Recently, I listened to a Freakanomics podcasts entitled How to become great at just about anything in which the research of Pyschologist Anders Ericsson is discussed; particularly his work on deliberate practice. Ericsson talks about the idea of deliberate practice. This is the idea that practice is more important than IQ when it comes to student outcomes, I mean, how often do we see this at GCSE? The lazy MAT student vs the industrious and driven. Furthermore, practice should be increasingly challenging and allow students to come out of their comfort zone, much like when a bodybuilder increases his weight so that his muscle fibers break under the pressure and grow back stronger; lifting a light weight that he is used to will not allow him to grow. I would like to return to this idea and dedicate a whole blog post to it as I feel it is an interesting subject and goes hand in hand with the idea of desirable difficulty. However, today’s post is about a very useful tool for allowing MFL students to practice conjugation until they can do it with eyes closed, asleep and/or whilst watching the Kardashians.
The Language Gym is a website that allows students to practice conjugating a range of verbs online and against the clock. The programme gives the user an infinitive, a tense and a pronoun and the verb must be conjugate. Furthermore, it keeps your score and so you can compete against others but more importantly; yourself.
The website allows students to make the task more challenging by including a range of tenses, forms and types of verbs (e.g. AR regular, reflexive, stem changing etc…) or they can filter out to hone in on one particular group of verbs. I have also set them challenges, such as a particular combination which I know will take them out of their comfort zone. I often set this as a homework task but this does raise the question of how do we know that they are completing it? I ask my students to share a Google Doc with that has the test type (e.g. group of verbs, tense) the date, the score and the words that they found difficult/got wrong. They can then target those specific words in future homework/independent study to close the gap.
I hope you find this useful, there are other aspects of the website that exist so if you do find something else that you think is interesting or you think of a new way of using the verb gym, then do please comment on this blog post.