Two websites. One easy way to review language.

Criss cross puzzleAs I wrote a little while ago, I like to use little pieces of paper to focus on and record the relevant language in ESOL sessions. Once focused on and recorded, that language needs to be reviewed – in class, but also, ideally, by learners between sessions.

I can do things in class at the end of a session and in future ones and language often gets recycled quite naturally too. Getting the learners to review, notice and use the language between sessions is more of a challenge and I’m currently thinking about new ways to encourage learners with busy and tiring lives to do this. The reading group has been useful but I’d like to add aspects to focus more on language they read and hear in their own time. One of the first things I’ll try is asking them to find a word, a phrase and a sentence as Anna Pires suggests in a recent post.

But more about that another time. This post is really just to share something I’ve found to be a very simple, quick and quite effective way to produce material to highlight, review and push learners to recall new lexical items as well as to add a bit of variety, with the help of two very useful websites:

Discovery Education Puzzlemaker

Macmillan Dictionary

From the Discover Education Puzzlemaker page, choose to make a Criss-cross puzzle. Then with a selection of the most useful words from previous sessions, and the clear definitions from the Macmillan Dictionary, make your puzzle and print it out.

It takes minutes to prepare but the learners usually really enjoy the challenge and the fact that it is based around words from their stories and experiences. I did it most recently with a group where I want to encourage better recording and reviewing of language. This is a first step. I also made sure that learners all had a vocabulary notebook and next week, I’ll start to discuss how learners use these and will be referring to Kathy Fagan’s recent post on vocabulary notebooks and the book she’s just finished reading.

As well as learners completing the puzzle, checking answers also provides opportunities to recall the context in which it was originally used to ensure the meaning is clear and to consider other contexts of use and other words they can be used with. (See Leo Selivan’s post on In context or with co-text?)

When published materials, as good as many of them are, just don’t quite fit the learners and language we’re working with, it’s useful to know of easy and quick ways to add variety and to review and extend language knowledge. This, I think, is one of them.

10 Responses to Two websites. One easy way to review language.

  1. eflnotes says:

    nice tools and links Carol, thanks

    have you read any Simon Mumford on using puzzles in language teaching? e.g.

    he has a great approach.


  2. swisssirja says:

    Wow, now that is what I call rich reading! Thank you, Carol, for all the good ideas and links. So much to mull over and to read 🙂
    Have a good and relaxing weekend!

  3. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Carol, for the mention! My learners love custom-made crossword puzzles because they can include words that came up in class (not just the ones in the book). I sometimes also include learner names or local street names, etc. At first, my beginners didn’t understand what to do with a typical clue because it was just a statement. I found that posing the clue as a question or a fill-in-the-blank helped. After they got comfortable with how the puzzle works, I shifted to the traditional format. I like the idea of having the learners go back to the original context to check their work. Will incorporate that next time!

    • Carol Goodey says:

      Many thanks for sharing your experience with puzzles, Kathy, and for the great tip about getting people unfamiliar with the format comfortable with them. Very useful!


  4. Lexical Leo says:

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for the mention. Much appreciated.

  5. TEFL Abroads says:

    heyy Carol, Nice representation, It really helped me

  6. annazernova says:

    Hi Carol! I would like to thank you for these ideas!
    I’ll soon try them in the classroom.

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