At a workshop just before the school year began, I was reminded of 9 strategies for teaching vocabulary used by John Kuhner, SALVI President (among many other things). Here they are:
- per monstrātiōnem (= showing)
- per gestum (= gesture)
- per pictūram (= picture)
- per synōnyma (= synonyms)
- per contrāria (= opposites)
- per indicem (= list/sequence)
- per dēfinātiōnem (= definition)
- per scaenulum (= skit)
- per aliam linguam (= English/native language)
Clearly, #9 is the least creative option. It still is, however, the most efficient way to establish meaning of new words/phrases/structures, but that might be for a different goal, for example, when not necessarily explicitly TEACHING vocabulary, but instead using it for some other purpose. Nevertheless, at the workshop I was a participant in a group that used strategies #3, 4, 7, and 8 to show others what ambāgēs (= a roundabout way) meant. Each group was to present their word using as many strategies as they chose and/or made sense to use.
The process was super interactive. My only reservation is that while my group had a strong sense of ambāgēs during the activity, other groups had their own completely different words. When it came time to share with each other, we heard from 4 out of 10 groups. If you include our brainstorming time (which was mostly in English), the activity was a solid 10-15min. Admins would see this as high engagement and observable evidence of student learning, but what were we learning? After 10-15min. the whole class heard 4 new words, roughly ~3x each during the presentation (and not all in the context of a complete message). Even though it’s tough to put a minimum number on how many times we need to hear something in context before we acquire it (has anyone else heard the number 75+?), it’s safe to say that ~3x is quite low for most of us. Were we learning these words? I’m not so sure. My preference would’ve been to establish meaning using #9 (and maybe an additional visual like #1, or #3), and use only one or two (three?) words many times via Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA), or in Storyasking, etc., and get to the other words later. This preference reflects my slow pace when teaching with CI to Novices, and what I would expect in a short time. Goals will vary.
So, I don’t think this activity leads to acquisition, at least with Novices, especially given the few understandable messages heard amongst shorter, individual words (i.e. all of them but #s 7 & 8). Remember, Latin teachers NEED these kinds of activities at immersion events in order to activate their passive knowledge of Latin, but our students lack that prior knowledge.
I do, however, find value in these 9 strategies, and I will use these them in a small group activity, especially when being observed, to have students show the meaning of words we’ve already established meaning of. The process would be to explain the 9 strategies to the class, and instruct groups to use as many as they can and/or make sense to use in order to show what words X, Y, and Z (e.g. from the Word Wall, or reading).