This week I had to make a trip to Nepal. The visa I have in India requires that we leave for a short period before returning to finish the year. I could have gone anywhere, but I was fortunate enough to be invited to work with Nepali teachers. NELTA, their wonderful teacher’s organization, arranged three programs.
The first day, I spoke to nearly 200 students. The second and third, I conducted workshops attended by about 30 teachers each.
The last of these was a workshop on Literature for Language Proficiency and I chose to focus, for the short time we had available, on choosing comprehensible input. I’m a great proponent of the tremendous utility of comprehensible input to help students acquire language efficiently and with the least effort. My workshops focus on determining and modifying the vocabulary levels of input.
The first step in finding comprehensible input for students based on vocabulary levels is determining the current vocabulary levels of students. Testing vocabulary levels by determining what percentage of the most frequent vocabulary a student likely comprehends is one of the easiest ways to gauge what they are likely to comprehend. Examples of the first two levels of tests are included here.
This post provides handouts on frequency-based vocabulary that I shared with my workshop participants.
These handouts provide a list of the first 1000 most common words of English and two simple tests that teachers can use to determine the vocabulary levels of students who do not yet have control of the first 2000. This information can help teachers choose materials that will allow students to comprehend 80-90% of a text so that they can begin to learn the additional 10%.
A great deal of research has gone into developing these tools and there are a number of other tools that teachers will find useful as well. For more information on this topic, see other posts in this blog or, if you’re in India, contact me to schedule a workshop for your teachers.