My 5 year old pupil can't memorize anything

01 Jan Shelley Vernon 3 Comments

I had a new private student 1-2-1 last weekend and I used your materials, but I couldn’t really get him to memorize or learn the material. I know the problem is on my end, because your materials are really great. I just need some help implementing them. I’m a new teacher, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. The student is 5 years old.


Solving this problem:


The chances are this teacher is trying to teach too much in one go, and is not doing enough repetition. When I say 'enough' repetition I mean however much this child needs, and it might be a lot! That is why it is so important to have a massive stock of varied games and activities so one can repeat words as much as is needed without the lesson being boring.


First start with three single vocabulary words, drilled through listening games. Work on those words until the student understands them and can respond correctly to them. Feed in a fourth new word and use more games to drill the four words, go up to six new words in a lesson if the pupil is doing well.


If the student is struggling do not introduce any more new words, but if he is doing well add in a fourth word and continue the games to drill all four. Feed in up to two more new words, teaching a maxium of six in any one session. Any more than six new words in a lesson can mean the student can't remember any of them! Only move onto speaking games when the student has memorized what the words mean when he hears them. To make the lesson fun and effective the student will need to hear these words many times and games are a way to do that.


In my ready-made curriculum of stories and lesson plans teachers only need to follow the steps to be successful. In story one, I'm Hungry you teach three animals first, ant, spider and bird. Play as many games with these three words as you have to until most pupils recognize them. For example you name one of the animals and students:


- jump on a picture,
- mime the animal,
- make the sound of the animal
- search for it hidden about the classroom
- run over to it, point to it


More ideas are:


- Three students each mime one of the animals. Name one of the animals, the other students point to or touch the pupil miming the animal you named.
- Students walk around the classroom to music, stop the music, name an animal and kids freeze in a mime.


Once pupils understand these three words start to use a sentence from the story, such as "Hello ant, how are you?" Don't expect pupils to say the sentence at this point, just understand it and respond to ANT (through mime, or touching an ant picture, drawing an ant).


Move on to speaking games where children start to name the animals themselves, always in the context of activities and games.


Email me for help if you need it! And be sure to try out my free story with lesson plan made of games to learn this fun method of teaching. You can get it via the free sign up box on my home page or ask me for it via email and I will send it to you.


Happy new year!

Shelley Ann Vernon


Really! We give kids too much to memorise and are surprised why they learn nothing.
Hello Irina, Yes, try it for yourself with your pupils. To remember new words pupils need to hear, say them and understand them, through pictures and gestures. For older pupils, they also need to see how they are written and write them. New words need drilling. Games are a fun way to do that. You'll get further teaching LESS thoroughly than skimming over a mass of new language. We need to skim over language too as part of our teaching approach. But one can't expect kids to learn much if we only skim and never drill. All the best Shelley
Appreciate it for all your efforts that you have put in this. Very interesting info.

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