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Guest post: a Memrise-powered Spanish bootcamp!

By Memrise Blog

We hear a lot from teachers who are using Memrise in new and exciting ways to supplement classroom learning, and we want to share more of these experiences through guest blogs. So if you are a teacher and would like to share how you have been using Memrise in your classrooms, please get in touch with me, ben@memrise.com!

Today, Dominic Traynor explains how he uses Memrise to assist his program of learning Spanish through Physical Education classes. Innovative indeed! Not only that, but he has a special offer for 10 London schools, so… over to you Dominic!

At Spanish Boot Camp, our language exercise programmes have been developed using Memrise to give the brain and the body the perfect workout in a foreign language. We are in a position to offer an academic year’s programme of thirty sessions in either Spanish or French in both primary and secondary schools. Ten schools in London will benefit from part-funding for the forthcoming academic year 2013-2014.

Language classes tend to bring back painful memories for a lot of people who gave up languages after many a disheartening slog through endless vocabulary lists and tricky grammar. Nowadays, although good MFL teaching often uses the power of technology to allow students to learn through social networking sites, video conferencing and blogs, these methods still restrict learning to a desk-bound approach. Most people are a combination of visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners. However, in most schools, academic subjects are tackled exclusively by teaching us from the neck up. Language learning doesn’t have to be like that.

Spanish Boot Camp – ‘Literas’ from Dominic Traynor on Vimeo.

At Spanish Boot Camp, we discovered that languages were perfectly suited to learning through movement. To counteract the traditional desk-based approach and increase the motivation of students, we developed and tested a series of exercise boot camps, conducted entirely in the target language, using Memrise to help teach and consolidate the language used during the sessions. 

By combining physical activity with Memrise, we are able to create the ideal physical (kinaesthetic) learning environment that rarely, if ever, happens in the language classroom. We create mems for physical movements, specific commands and exercise advice in the target language which give students access to learning without having to resort to traditional classroom methods to deliver learning.

By using Memrise and the exercises themselves, we give the brain and the body the right perfect workout entirely in the target language. As sessions progress and confidence grows, students can lead specific exercises using the knowledge they have gained and retained in previous sessions.

Our objective is to increase the uptake of language study in schools to higher levels. With a large number of national educational institutions and organisations currently raising the profile of languages in UK schools, our programmes were designed to combat the major problem with languages: convincing students to study languages to higher levels.

From our work so far, we have noticed a huge improvement in students’ motivation to learn. It is fascinating to see how students have no issue with PE being delivered in another language. In primary school, the novelty element of having to work out a game or gymnastic exercise in a foreign language has never worn off for the students that we teach. With secondary students, we have found that increased body awareness leads them to really value the sessions as something that helps them achieve two goals: self-confidence and improved language ability. What is more, boys in particular often struggle to maintain focus when faced with desk-based study and traditionally are less likely to study languages compared to girls. We have found that our boot camps give them the motivation they need by showing them the link between their classroom studies and our sessions. The combination of Memrise and exercise works extremely effectively without the student even being aware of the huge progress being made.

We offer sessions for KS2 right up to KS5 to fit in with your current timetable. We have the opportunity for 10 schools to have their sessions part-funded so please get in touch to talk about how Spanish Boot Camp along with Memrise can give your language students that extra motivation and create a culture of language excellence in your school.