Fellow explorers,

Sunday, I teacher who had taken one of my live on line courses with The International Teacher Development Institute–iTDi–visit my class at Kanda University of International Studies for teachers working on an MA in TESOL She posted a photograph of herself, two of the teachers, and me on FACEBOOK. She also summarized what we had practiced in class, which was to show ways we can discover meanings without defining words.  Though the most efficient way to understand words in a new language we are learning is to look up unknown words in a bilingual dictionary, we do not always have a dictionary with us. Having said this with bilingual dictionaries a feature of many cell phones in fact many do have access to bilingual dictionaries all the time. But still trying to discover meanings by noting various features of words nurtures the natural curiosity that we all have to learn on our own as much as we can.  So often the focus of lessons is on memorization and repetition rather than on predicting and thoughtful practice.

Well, to get to the reason for this blog, one of the people who say the FACEBOOK photograph and the summary of what we did in class asked how we can learn without definitions. Since much time in classes around the world is spent on defining words, I thought I would send along a couple of items I have written suggesting some alternatives.  As always, I do not ask you to believe what I suggest. But I do want you to try what I suggest–at least 3 times–to see the effects.  One of the teachers in my class tried an activity a few weeks ago and following my suggestion asked her students what they thought of the activity. They thought it was a waste of time. I urged her to try it a few more times. She did and brought the comments from her students to class. They found it one of the most beneficial activities they had ever experienced!

Enjoy, enjoy.


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