How do you revisit taught material and recycle effectively? #ELTchat summary 02/03/2011

A PLN for ELT Professionals

How do you revisit taught material and recycle effectively? #ELTchat summary 02/03/2011

This summary was contributed by by Tara Benwell tweeting for @ESLLibrary and was first posted here on the ESL Library Blog


Many thanks to Tara for her great summary and constant support.


How do you revisit taught material and recycle effectively?


It’s been a while since I wrote an #edchat review and I was happy to volunteer to summarize this week’s #ELTChat. I blogged about the topic of recycling vocabulary a few weeks ago in ESL-Library’s #FF tribute post, and I was eager to join the chat to discover other tricks from teachers like Leahn. The art of “recycling” seems a bit sneaky, doesn’t it? We don’t want to come out and tell students that an upcoming activity or game is designed to drill structures, vocabulary, or rules into their heads. Or do we?

You can find the transcript for this week’s ELT Chat here.


Questions we pondered…

How does “recycling” differ from “reviewing”?


@vladkaslniecko …recycling can imitate a real life learning (outside the classroom)…practice the same things in various contexts
@rliberni …recycling always deals with putting the old material into new contexts 4 the sake of 1. memoriz., 2 activation
@DinaDobrou …revision like “reminding” them; recycling “getting them to use it”? Revision is sth they do on their own too


When is the best time to recycle material?


#ELTChatters said…

  • beginning of class
  • end is best
  • throughout
  • in quick bursts
  • whenever, wherever
  • whenever it’s logical

@cgoodey “According recent Pearson seminar from Norbert & Diane Schmitt – recycle very soon after introducing new vocab.”


Some more research is clearly needed. Anyone care to blog about this or share links to further research about retention? As I mentioned in the chat, I recently watched a video about memory that talked about the importance of “endings” in the human memory. As I was working on this summary, I saw my tweet and suddenly remembered the video. It was a TEDTalk by Daniel Kahneman about “the remembering self” vs. “the experiencing self” and it discusses the importance of time. I hope you’ll find 20 minutes to watch it (perhaps at the end of your day).


What are some ways we can recycle grammar, structure, pronunciation, and items other than vocabulary?

  • reading/ listening: re-visit same listening or reading passage in a subsequent lesson with a different purpose, such as a class discussion
  • grammar:  use flashcards created by stds …and keep them for later
  • sentence structure: dominoes…good for things like conjunctions, conditionals.
  • for review of “stems” shout out beginning stem of a structure, ss have to write 2nd part down
  • pronunciation – jazz chants. Ss write new one or add on more verses, then chant


Suggested Techniques

  • do a little bit every day
  • put students in charge (creating activities, puzzles, warmers, projects)
  • keep it fun (This is not a test! A competition maybe)
  • change the context from the original lesson


Suggested Activities

  • miming
  • pictionary
  • shouting game/a.k.a hot seat
  • Friday language auction (ask @sueannan for more details)
  • have students create their own picture dictionaries (address books/ Google Docs)
  • project work
  • write stories based on vocab
  • diaries (or blogs) to review in a personal way (what did we learn)
  • words in a hat (pull out and make a sentence or tell short story together)
  • tic-tac-toe
  • sticky note on head or back/ they mingle and guess their word (“who am I” style)
  • action charades for revising verbs and objects
  • word search and crossword competitions
  • create cartoons
  • design their own memory game
  • question box based on previously taught content


Wise Tweets

  • “teaching/learning without recycling is useless” @vladkaslniecko
  • “little and often is the key” @KarenInGreece
  • “Use the walls to scaffold previously taught lang and vocab” @Fuertesun
  • “Learning new vocab should be with production in mind, so the opportunity to recycle should come naturally. Easy to forget though!”@theteacherjames
  • “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.I think we have to engage our students” @du_siemens


Although #ELTChat always raises important questions, provides useful suggestions, and allows English teachers to connect with teachers from various backgrounds and specialties, it often leaves us with a bunch of outstanding questions to ponder.


Such as…

  • How can we organize our time to fit recycling in?
  • How can we convince learners (with the finish-the-book mentality) that recycling/review is a crucial component to learning?
  • How do we choose which vocab. to recycle each day? Is there an ideal #?
  • What do we know about long and short term memory?
  • How can class blogs help with recycling?


by By Tara Benwell


2 Responses

  1. Faisal says:

    i like this article which of great help and benefits to teachers.
    what are the best activities for recycling and thanks a lot.

  2. […] How do you revisit taught material and recycle effectively? #ELTchat summary 02/03/2011 | #ELTchat […]

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