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Meaningful learning

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Joined: 01 Dec 2011
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:49 pm    Post subject: Meaningful learning Reply with quote

I just wanted to know what current teachers thought about meaningful learning vs. rote memorization. Are there any words/phrases that you always encourage your students to memorize? We know that students end up learning more when they are learning the language to gain both skills and knowledge. Since the topics regarding meaningful learning are usually more interesting, the students are even more motivated to learn! So I just wanted to know how much time is spent on rote memorization in the classroom.
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Joined: 02 Sep 2013
Posts: 27
Location: Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:34 am    Post subject: meaningful learning Reply with quote


Rote learning in my opinion is a waste of everybody's time. Practice on a certain point in context is however a good way to learn language. Rote learning is used predominantly in exam cultures where typically students can get an A in a given test but not be able to speak a sentence in a real life context or use any language 'out of the box'.


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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
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Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to use chants. There is a series of book - Jazz Chants and so on that are great. The students learned the chants by heart and really enjoyed them and they came up in conversations naturally.

I encouraged them to bring in their favourite English songs and we learned the words. At holidays, especially Crhistmas, we learned non-religious song and the little one learned children's songs by heart.

I encouraged them to learn a poem by heart as well and we had poetry day for them to recite their poetry. Good for the brain as well as for their English pronunciation. I would record the poem for them so they could get the rhythm and pronunciation if they wanted or get my male colleague to do it for the boys.

There are a lot of fun ways to memorize. I still remember the poems I memorized in school and they bring back a lot of good memories and sometimes some comfort.

One student I know memorized a whole book that she loved. Reminds me of a movie I saw about firemen who burned books and the main character was the only one who could recite the book verbatim. It preserved the book for the future. I hope we never come to that and it seems with the Internet we won't. I hope no one ever gets that power.
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Joined: 22 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just found this thread, so I am late in joining, but for what it is worth:

Personally, I always liked the lexical approach. The student knows what they want to say and we provide them the means of saying it. Shades of the old community language learning?

Basically, it means that the clas is based around the student's needs and wants. Their desire to reproduce some meaningful bit of language (to them) is fostered. If the phrase contains advanced grammar, that is not important to the process. The student now knows how to say something they want to say. The rest comes after the fact.

As for Jazz Chants, they are really magic. I especially like "Small Talk. The material is everyday English situations you are likely to encounter. The chants are set to music, easy to remember and the rhythms and stresses are built right in. In those situations, the student is given just about all the options and responses possible and so it fulfills the prediction end of the process as well.

In my opinion, the prediction end of the game is as important as the production. I want my students to be able to predict all f the responses that might come their way. I like them to create ways of parsing what is said so they can work most answers into one of their predicted responses. I always find that to be a real boost to confidence and motivation.

Rote learning really is a waste of time, but I have so often been told there is no other way of learning this or that bit of vocabulary or whatever that it seems to be perceived wisdom. If there is no alternative, then either the material is completely unimportant (at least at this stage) or the teacher/book is not doing the job. This goes into the realm of training and support (the lack of), I know, but that is a rant for later
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