Friday, July 21, 2006

Vocabulary Notebooks Revisited

This year I introduced vocabulary notebooks into two of my classes (A university freshman English class and a Nursing School English class). As I wrote before, the primary reason for doing so was to encourage students to learn the words they encountered in class and also learn how to use them. Last year, I had observed that many students' notebooks for the classes consisted of a pile of handouts I had given them throughout the semester and some scriblings. These students received 10 and 20 percents on tests and one of the primary reasons was that they had no idea how to review for a test. I realized that I should be trying to help these kids develop study habits so I introduced vocabulary notebooks.

For one entry students can write the following information about a work:
1. the L1 meaning
2. A keyword or key picture.
3. the L2 word
4. Phonetic transcription
5. Part of speech
6. Derivations
7. Collocations
8. Sample sentences

To see an actual word entry from a student, please click here. In two weeks I will be presenting about this project at the zenkokueigokyouikugakkai or the Japan Society of English Education Conderence in Kouchi. There has actually been very little research done to investigate how students record words in their notebooks. At the conference I will be talking about the following:
1. Did the students use new word learning strategies develop through using the vocabulary notebooks?
2. Did students actually use the vocabulary notebooks, if so, how?
3. Through this experience, what tips can be given to teachers about the use of vocabulary notebooks?
4. What further issues of investigation have arisen from this study?

To prepare for this presentation, I will be periodically posting to this blog in the next two weeks. I hope I can finish by the time the conference roles around!

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