Last week a teacher called Simon Birch from Broxbourne school sent me a presentation that he had done for other teachers in his school about how he is using Memrise to help his students get better results. It was a delight to read! Aside from the fact that Simon had found a dramtic improvement in the test scores of his students when they used Memrise (average 64% vs 42%), I was particularly interested by the anecdotal feedback about what bits of Memrise helped them most.
One student comment in particular caught my eye: Simon asked the student if they felt that they were able to take part in the lessons more due to an increased subject vocabulary (the subject was food science). They answered, “Yes – Its hard to understand the lesson without understanding the terms used in the, its like playing a game without knowing the rules or sometimes like listening to another language.”
That is an excellent point. Often the learning of facts is overlooked as being outdated and no longer necessary in the age of the internet. But knowing facts can help us to perceive the world more richly, to process it, to engage with it. If you don’t know any Chinese characters, a Chinese menu is utterly meaningless. But if you learn the vocabulary, then it can fire your imagination and have you salivating in anticipation of all the tasty dishes!
Likewise knowing vocabulary is crucial, not just when learning foreign languages, but when learning the English terms or jargon used in a particular subject area. Understanding the words is a pre-requisite to engaging with the concepts – and learning them can be quick, enjoyable and done outside the classroom before the lesson so that in the lesson everyone knows what is going on.
Taking fact learning out of the classroom is one big way that we want to help teachers to make their job easier. We want to do more. So if you are a teacher who is using, or is thinking about using Memrise with your class please do send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us how else we can help!