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.

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