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19 ways to use Textivate to teach vocab

What is Textivate? In their own words:

“Textivate generates a wide range of interactive activities based on your own text and / or matching items.” To really make the most of its features, you need to buy a subscription, which is very reasonably priced, starting at £25 p/a. The huge range of features on offer makes Textivate a great investment for your planning…

For introducing new vocab chunks

N.B. If you’re not sure why you should teach vocab in chunks, check out these posts from Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti:
https://frenchteachernet.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-curse-of-single-word-vocab-learning.html

https://gianfrancoconti.com/2017/05/21/why-you-should-ditch-word-lists-and-traditional-grammar-rules/

1. Flashcard oral repetition
As I explained in my Quizlet blog, using ‘flashcards’ can be a good way to do some choral repetition, modelling pronunciation. Clare Seccombe of changing-phase.blogsplot.com and Steve Smith of frenchteachernet.blogspot.com both offer different ways of making this activity quite fun…
varying the repetition
saying the word in different ways
alternating between different groups in the class, rows, boys, girls, individuals
whispering
shouting (!) etc.  

Managed well and done in small doses, it can be a great intro to new words. To avoid any guesswork or ambiguity, switch the top and bottom flashcard for students to see the English first (a little bit à la Michaela School).


2. 1 in 3 match as a class
Similar to the above, except you offer three L2 options to choose from, which gets them to analyse the TL phrase more closely. Give students a few seconds to discuss in pairs and then cold-call / hands up. Alternatively, do it in silence on mini whiteboards. To make it more challenging and give the students some more input to process, show the L1 answer first, and then read the three TL items slowly.

3. Dominoes or matching cards
A bit more prep required, so I tend to reserve this for teaching smaller groups like sixth form classes. Print and cut out a set of dominoes or matching cards and students match them on the table.
Again, chunks of vocab are beneficial here rather than individual words, as students can use language they recognise to help work out the matches, rather than random guessing!

4. A basic matching sheet
One of my go-to lesson starters. I love using a matching sheet with good chunks so that students can find clues in the sentences to make the matches. Go to ‘swuffle’ on the Textivate matching menu and print. Exploit this activity further by doing some reading aloud and choral repetition to drill pronunciation, or a ‘vocab hunt’ – write a list of English words on the board that appear in the sheet – students find the TL version!

5. Oral matching task
Oral equivalent to the above – save on printing and get them speaking. Select ‘swuffle’ on the matching menu, give students a moment to look at the board and go through the items aloud in pairs, then check answers afterwards with hands up / cold-calling.

6. A gapped vocab-list
One of my favourites as well, as it can encourage more thorough processing than a simple matching sheet – they have to actually read each word to work out which word is gapped. Paste your chunks list into the Text section rather than match, separating L1 from TL with a symbol like =. Textivate allows you to select the words to be gapped, so choose carefully in your TL column (or you could even do a mixture of gaps in both languages). See below:

For practising listening

7. Conti-style sentence puzzles
Use the ‘jumble’ feature in match to create a worksheet a bit like Gianfranco Conti’s sentence puzzles (covered in this blog post https://gianfrancoconti.com/2018/07/30/patterns-first-how-i-teach-lexicogrammar-part-1/). Students see the L1 translation, followed by a jumbled-up version of the TL. Read out the correct TL version whilst students carefully listen and note the correct order of the sentence, having to recognise each word in front of them and focus on spelling as they write it down. This is a great one for modelling complex grammatical structures where word order can be challenging eg. perfect tense in French, partitive articles with nouns or use of different object pronouns.

8. ‘This or that’ listening with L1 flashcards
A low-prep, short and snappy activities for consolidating vocab that students have just seen. (You could also do it with the Quizlet method)
a) Go to ‘flashcards’ and make sure the L1 flashcard appears on top.
b) Give two options orally in the TL eg. ‘il y a beaucoup de’ ou ‘il y a trop de’ ?
c) Students note the correct option / repeat it back to you, however you prefer.
I like this one because it requires pupils to listen to both options carefully and therefore gives them input as well as requiring output – you can make it harder by giving three options, or even four if it’s a really able group.

9. Missing vowels / consonants / 50:50 dictation
Found under the ‘missing letters’ option in the matching menu, it’s a great way to practise certain sounds. It’s best as a consolidation exercise when students have seen the words a few times, but can also work well to introduce new vocab if it’s a language where there aren’t too many different spellings for the same sound (good for Spanish, could be trickier for French!)

For retrieval practice

10. Missing letters worksheet
As above, except instead of listening, give a missing letters sheet as a plenary or starter the following lesson for students to practise recall and spelling.

11. Oral initials task
Similar to the above, an excellent plenary/starter to recall prior learning. Use the ‘initials’ option in the missing letters activity.

For word order and meaning in context

12. Jumble worksheet
It’s up to you whether to include the L1 translation on your jumble sheet by creating it from the match menu. That way, the activity can serve as a scaffolded translation. If you remove L1 by creating it through the Text menu instead, students have to identify the sentence meaning and then reorder it – both great for reinforcing word order and processing vocab in context.

13. Gap-fill
You can either create a ‘user-defined’ gap-fill, allowing you to choose the vocab or grammar point you want students to practise, or do a ‘random’ one to practise a mixture of everything in the text. I find this activity is best done as a worksheet, but can work when projected on the board in the Textivate page and done orally / on mini whiteboards, provided the text is fairly short.

Independent tasks for students to do on devices or homework

14. Challenges or sequences
For this, you’ll need to upgrade to the Premium membership, at around £50 p/a. You can set challenges or sequences of activities such as matching, jumble, gap-fill, hangman etc. which students can complete on a computer using their logins – a great way to get them recycling the language for their homework, or a low-prep idea for part of a lesson if you have the luxury of a language lab / computer room / iPads / BYOD policy.


15. Trapdoor, Invaders, Snake, 3 in a row etc.
There are several great games that can be played as an individual rather than a whole class, so you can add these to a sequence for homework or during a lesson – they find the games extremely motivational, and doing several games with the same text or matching pairs is an effective way to ensure thorough recycling.

My favourite end-of-lesson ‘games’ using Textivate:

16. The countdown game
My students get so excited for this little plenary game. I use the Windows split-screen mode, a Youtube window with Countdown clock on one side (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JVwo3D72cc) and a Textivate window on the other. I go to an activity like ‘multi match’ / ‘jumble’ / ‘missing letters’. When I start the clock, one team has 30 seconds to answer as many of the questions correctly as possible. As soon as they shout the correct answer, I click it and it goes onto the next one. I note on the board how many they got in 30 seconds, and we repeat with another team. You can vary this by making teams rotate answers around the team if not everyone is participating actively. You could also give each team ‘lives’ and they lose a life if they shout an incorrect answer.

17. Football
Another one students go crazy for… it can be done with a text or a set of matching items. Split the class in half, one half are the blues and the other are the reds. When they have the ball, they answer the questions aloud. You click the answer they said and they get to pass the ball / shoot.

18. Hangman
A great retrieval exercise. Simply tell the students the phrase will be one of the ones from today’s lesson and get them to call out TL letters until someone gets the answer. Could also work in teams!

19. Snap
‘Snap’ is one of the built-in activities in the matching section. Either play it without awarding scores just for the fun of it, or get teams to go head to head and see which team can shout snap first when there’s a snap. Of course, you deduct points from teams who say snap when there isn’t one!

If that’s not enough, I should also mention that there are MANY other awesome features of Textivate that I have not covered in this article, such as use of Trap door activities, listening comprehension and parallel texts, which you may be interested in if you like the Knowledge Organiser parallel text method. These would all require an entire blog post each, so I recommend consulting Textivate’s user guides for more info on these. http://textivate.posthaven.com/user-guides-1

Please comment below if you’d like to share your thoughts on Textivate, my suggestions or other ways in which you exploit this great tool.

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy learning about 9 uses of Quizlet for MFL

References:

McColl, Hilary (2000) Modern Languages for All. Abingdon: Routledge.

Smith, Steve (2017) Becoming an Outstanding Languages Teacher. Abingdon: Routledge.

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9 ways to use Quizlet in MFL teaching

9 ways to use Quizlet in MFL teaching

Before we jump in, here is a brief intro to Quizlet which you can skip over if you’re already well acquainted with it…

What is Quizlet?

Quizlet is a popular website and app for any device to access and practise ‘study sets’ on ‘every conceivable subject and topic’ (https://quizlet.com/en-gb/mission) It already has 50 million monthly learners. It is often used for independent study as a revision resource, or can be used in class with the game ‘Quizlet Live’. Its activities allow MFL students to practise spelling, listening and reading in a range of different ways. Most words and phrases that you will be teaching in your language are already uploaded to Quizlet with audio! You can find many ready-made vocab lists on their, or upload your own (which can be done VERY speedily – see below!).

Should I use the free version or pay for ‘Quizlet Teacher’?

Personally, I think you can do so much without buying a subscription – you can do 8 out of the 9 of the activities mentioned on this post using the free version. One big advantage of the paid version is that it allows your students to ‘join’ their ‘class’, where you can track their progress.

How can I put my vocab lists on Quizlet?

The quickest way is to use the ‘import’ tool on Quizlet when you create a study set. Open the document on your computer that contains your vocab list, select all, copy and paste into Quizlet. You can adjust which symbol represents the space between the two languages on your list, depending on how your document is formatted, to ensure it copies it in correctly. If you don’t have a list to hand, you can very quickly make one by inserting two-column table in a word doc, typing in the items, then copying and pasting into Quizlet. You can find YouTube tutorials if you need further help.

9 ways to use Quizlet in MFL

1. Matching worksheets / multiple-choice worksheets
A classic matching worksheet can be a great lesson starter to settle students and introduce a new set of vocab in chunks.
Read about the benefits teaching vocab in chunks here:
https://frenchteachernet.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-curse-of-single-word-vocab-learning.html
https://gianfrancoconti.com/2017/05/21/why-you-should-ditch-word-lists-and-traditional-grammar-rules/
To make one, go to your chosen study set –> test –> print test –> change the options to tick matching items only or multiple-choice if you prefer.
Exploit this activity further by doing some reading aloud with choral repetition to drill pronunciation, or do a ‘vocab hunt’ – a list of English words on the board that students need to find in the TL on the sheet.



2. Flashcard oral repetition
Once you’ve created a study set, use the ‘flashcards’ tool to do some choral repetition, modelling pronunciation. Clare Seccombe of changing-phase.blogsplot.com and Steve Smith of frenchteachernet.blogspot.com both offer different ways of making this activity fun:
varying the repetition
saying the word in different ways
different groups in the class repeating – rows, boys, girls, individuals
whispering
shouting (!)
etc.
Managed well and done in small doses, it can be a great intro to new words. To avoid guesswork or ambiguity, switch the top and bottom flashcard for students to see the English first (a little bit à la Michaela School). Turn off audio and use your own voice to model pronunciation, otherwise it can sound a bit robotic, and you also have to listen to the English voice!



3. ‘THIS OR THAT?’ listening with L1 flashcards
One of my favourite short and snappy activities for consolidating vocab that students have just seen.
a) Go to ‘flashcards’ and make sure the L1 flashcard is appearing on top (you can use the options button to adjust this)
b) Give two options orally in the TL with a slight pause between them
eg. if the phrase on the card is ‘there is a shopping centre’, you’d say ‘il y a un centre commercial…? ou il y a un stade?
c) Students note down the correct option / repeat it back to you, however you prefer
I like this one because it requires pupils to listen to both options carefully and therefore gives them some input as well as requiring output – you can make it harder by giving three options, or even four if it’s a really able group. Again, turn the audio off when you do this one and use your own voice!



4. Vocab tests
Not only does Quizlet help students study for vocab tests, but you can also create and print the test on Quizlet. Go to:
study set –> test –> print test.
Adjust the options depending on whether you want L1 to TL or TL to L1.



5. Setting homework
If you pay for Quizlet Teacher, you can set your students homework tasks, for example, ‘complete learn, speller and match for the set regular verbs’. You can check student progress, which will tell you which students completed the task, how long it took, and their scores, as well as general data on which vocab items they struggled with the most and which they did best in.

6. Pre-teaching vocab for listening/reading
As Conti and Smith have emphasised in their blogs and their latest bestseller ‘Breaking the sound barrier: teaching language learners how to listen’, listening extracts and texts should contain a very high percentage (around 90% or 95%) of comprehensible input if they are going to be a productive activity for your students. You can therefore look at the text or extract to be used in class, pick out vocab they will need to learn beforehand, and upload it to Quizlet. Then you could do one of the following options:

a) Send students the link to the study set and they study it for their homework (flipped learning model) – if you have Quizlet Teacher, you can check they have done this, or if you don’t, give them a mini-test at the start of the next lesson.

b) If you have the luxury of a languages lab/computer room/iPads/BYOD policy, you can send students the the link at the start of the lesson and they can spend 10-15 minutes practising the vocab before you begin. It’s handy if they can also have headphones for this so they can listen, too. They love playing ‘gravity’ and ‘match’.

7. Quizlet Live
Students absolutely LOVE this game and it works well as a plenary activity. It’s a race against other teams to answer all the vocab questions correctly, as the leaderboard on the screen shows them who is winning. It also teaches them to be careful as if they get one wrong, they go back to zero. At the end, you also get to see which vocab items pupils struggled with – helpful data for future planning!

8. Gravity / Match plenary games
Who doesn’t love a good game to test students’ progress from the lesson? You can easily turn Gravity or Match into a whole-class game or a team game – use your mouse scroller and the ctrl key to zoom in sufficiently so the class can see the vocab clearly enough on the projector. You can either bring up individual students to be in charge of the mouse and select students to give them the answer, and encourage the class to try and beat their high score. Or, make it into a competition and have two teams take turns to call out answers and see who can get the best score.



9. Independent study / revision materials
This is undoubtedly one of the best things about Quizlet. You can create several different folders and classes, which means you can basically have all the language you want them to know on Quizlet. You can then ensure that students can access your resources during weekends/evenings/holidays by sharing the class link with them, so they can use Quizlet for revision or independent study. Students no longer have an excuse to not do it – they have everything they need at their fingertips, provided they have a phone or device with internet that they can access at home.

If that isn’t enough, Quizlet also provide various posts of their own about how to make use of the site…

Games:

https://quizlet.com/blog/classroom-game-idea-match-relays

https://quizlet.com/blog/5-fun-easy-ways-to-adapt-quizlet-live

https://quizlet.com/blog/classroom-game-idea-quizlet-quest

MFL ideas:

https://quizlet.com/blog/teacher-to-teacher-five-ways-to-use-quizlet-in-the-language-classroom

https://quizlet.com/blog/quizlet-live-four-activities-for-speaking-and-listening-practice

Thanks for reading and I hope you found this post helpful. Please comment below if you’d like to share your thoughts or offer any other ways in which you use Quizlet!

If you love time-saving tech tools that engage your students like Quizlet, you may also be interested in learning about ways to use Textivate to teach vocab.