“Y” got his grade back today for last week’s test. He passed – no thanks to me, after only two lessons – and was rightfully very pleased with himself. Today we finished off the work we started last week (revision of the present continuous and present simple) and then moved onto revision of the present perfect. Y worked very hard at the bazillion little exercises I had prepared and I had the feeling that these are two points of grammar with which he is now fairly competent.
Question 1: is it healthy for 15 year old boys to have an intensive extra hour of grammar every week outside of school?
Word search puzzles
We then also made a word search puzzle for each other. I’ve always been a firm believer in using word searches as a means of revising vocab. It’s a simple concept, no doubt known to everyone, but just in case: I draw two grids on a piece of A4 paper. In the top grid you write the points of vocab (yes, yes, just words out of context, but it really helps with spelling and as a simple additional means of revising words). You then re-write the words in the bottom grid and surround them by random letters. The paper is then folded in half and handed to the ‘victim’. I like to write all but the last letter of words just to throw the person who eventually has to do the ‘searching’ (am a total sadist!). Then you draw little arrows to show which ways the words are (back to front, horizontal, vertical, diagonal) and can choose to stop there, or to write the L1 or L2 word in a list so the ‘searcher’ knows what to look for. Sometimes I just write down how many words and sometimes I opt to write the L1 word. Today we each wrote the L1 words and then had to first translate them to L2 before we could search for them in the grid. What with writing the words twice (once in each grid), then checking the answers, it’s a fairly good way of revisiting vocab and I’ve been known to encourage kids to make words search grids if they finish work early in class before their peers.
Y seemed to quite like the puzzle so I’ve decided to do this type of exercise a bit more frequently with him. I know his secondary school (have some teacher trainees there and used to work there myself) and know how terribly traditional their vocab tests are so this type of exercise will definitely prove useful.
Question 2: how do you feel about using word search puzzles to reinforce vocabulary learning?
I’ve agreed to plough through Y’s school book with him next week to help him with the exercises he has to do for school. These are very traditional grammar and vocab-based exercises based around a reading text. Not exactly my thing but I suppose it makes life easy as I won’t have to prepare loads of extra work; although I am still planning on taking some texts to help keep Y’s interest – living on a milk farm he’s interested in all things agricultural and is also a Top Gear fan.
Question 3: is it right that a 121 should be doing the work the class teacher has apparently failed to do?
In the Netherlands the companies set up to offer extra schooling/tutoring for school kids are growing like mushrooms (I, too am guilty of taking advantage of this!). Some even offer their services for primary school children! I pay €300 a month for my daughter’s maths lessons (and charge considerably less myself – ethical reasons) and know there are 4 official institutions in my local town, never mind the individuals offering their services online. What is going wrong with education/our expectations that there is such a need for so many extra lessons outside of school?
Question 5: does your country also have so many companies providing tutoring to school children?