Forgetting easily

<b>Forum for teachers teaching adult education </b>

Moderators: Dimitris, maneki neko2, Lorikeet, Enrico Palazzo, superpeach, cecil2, Mr. Kalgukshi2

Post Reply
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 3:59 pm
Location: Canada

Forgetting easily

Post by Mindful » Tue Aug 31, 2010 3:59 am

Hello all,

I teach lower level adult ESL. Most of my students have no time to study at home and aren't exposed to English during their typical days. Only in the evenings they come to study for 2.5 hours. Many of them have trouble remembering what I thought them last class and the words we've been learning. What are some ways I can help them retain knowledge better? I know that it's difficult for them to find time to review and study. But are there ways I can still improve their knowledge retention even just a bit?


Posts: 3031
Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2004 6:57 pm
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

Post by fluffyhamster » Tue Aug 31, 2010 7:01 am

Hi M. If the students can't or won't make the time outside of lessons for review and consolidation, then you may have little option but to make time within 'em. And quite a few teachers as a matter of course it seems do small reviews or recaps ('Last week we did...yup, that's right, past tense stuff') at the beginning of lessons, even if it's nothing very thorough. But if you want to make it so, then perhaps try something like setting and quickly checking the answers to selected exercises from Murphy's Grammar in Use series in the latter part of a lesson, and then in the next lesson finding some way to remind and elicit those same answers from the students (e.g. you could photocopy an enlargement of some of the pictures that Murphy often uses, or on the blackboard write one or two of the gapfill, or select form A/B, or "correct the mistake"-type exercises from it).

As for vocabulary, it is easy to make a deck of cards and get students to define or paraphrase the word or item in question (whilst not actually saying it) in an attempt to elicit it from the other students listening (and such paraphrase is "ironically" just the sort of circumlocution that students who make little attempt to memorize words will have to engage in! Except that being forced to do the circumlocution so soon after having met if not learnt the word will hopefully get it to stick that bit better! As the guy who was dating two anorexics at the same time sickly said [this is a joke from the Edinburgh Fringe BTW], "Two birds, one stone"). Easier still would be to have the student provide associations (i.e. more connotations than denotations) for each word. Make sure either way that the students know that the words or items being elicited are ones they have only recently studied.

The following thread has further ideas on teaching and/or reviewing vocabulary:

Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:23 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Student trouble

Post by alawton » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:46 pm


Practice and repetition are the only ways that the English they are learning is going to sink in. I would make sure to always have a warm up that covers the main topics covered in the previous lesson. Find out their interests and try to have them reading passages that cover these areas. If the students are motivated to get the meaning of what they are reading they are more likely to really focus on the words and retain more. I know...easier said than done. Good luck!

Andrew Lawton

Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Aug 12, 2010 4:15 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain


Post by danielwelsch » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:34 pm

I'm in the same situation, and I agree you have to be reviewing constantly. Just because you taught it last month doesn't mean they remember it this month.

I like to start classes doing a review of things they SHOULD already know. Usually in the form of a mini-quiz. Testing is good to make people remember things because it puts some pressure on them...

Have fun,

Patty Schuler
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:52 pm
Location: Vineland NJ

forgetting what they learned last week

Post by Patty Schuler » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:42 pm


My adult ELL's have the same problem with practcing and reviewing at home. They are busy with work and families, just like we are. I always urge my ELL's to watch TV in English, listen to the radio in English, read the newspaper in English, etc., and then if they have questions bring them to class. Unfortunately in our area everything is available in their L1, which of course is easier for them.

Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:44 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY

Post by JRanieri » Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:17 am

Perhaps they don't have time to sit down and complete a written assignment, but maybe you can assign them to practice a certain dialogue pattern when they are picking up their prescriptions, talking to their boss, helping their children with homework, etc. After all, this would probably help the language to leave a lasting impression longer than a written assignment. This would only work though if you were teaching ESL in an English speaking environment. Are you?

Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:23 pm
Location: Austin, TX

forgetting what they learned last week

Post by alawton » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:37 am

I have the same issues with my adult ed night classes. The students don't have time to study a lot. Try to come up with assignments where the students are required to use the new material you are teaching out in their every day life. I have some guys that work construction all day. They speak Spanish all day with their co workers. I encouraged them to engage their Engliish speaking boss at least three times in the work day. I even had them write down some prompts to approach the boss with a question that included our target grammar and vocabulary. i don't think all of the students did this, but a few did. They were a little overwhelmed with the English response they heard, but it was practice. maybe something like this could work for your classes. Good luck!

Andrew Lawton

Post Reply