One notable tool for language learning that is particularly helpful for new arrivals includes a ‘Remember Book’. It is especially useful for 7 years old up who are able to write in their mother tongue.
A Remember Book is a notebook small enough to fit in a pocket (A6 size), but with enough space to write between the lines (depending on age). Throughout the sessions, the pupils should write, update and revise new learning in the Remember Book in order to practise new vocabulary and language structures learnt in both survival language sessions and in other contexts of immediate interest to the learner. The Remember Book has two functions:
1. To provide a record of what pupils have learned at the end of every lesson in order to support revision of English outside the class.
2. To record independent learning in order to provide opportunities for understanding new learning in lessons and then revising the new language outside the class.
The teacher or child should write the new learning for the lesson in the book. In cases where children are very young, it would be helpful to have the new language copied and ready for the children to stick into their Remember Books during the lesson. Unless children are very able, it is better to cut and stick the new language instead of writing. This is because writing can be slow and inaccurate, especially with younger pupils or for those in the early stages of learning, or for those who aren’t familiar with using the Roman script.
Children must take their Remember Book and a pencil with them everywhere and be encouraged to write words or sentences in the back of the book as soon as they learn useful language. If children are literate in a home language, then they should be encouraged to write the translations.
If not, they can draw a visual to remind them or just write the word on its own. It doesn’t matter about spelling at this stage – it’s the speaking, listening and remembering that is important. The attention to detail in the spelling can come later. Children use the back of the book to avoid mixing up their useful, independently learnt words with the lesson work positioned at the front of the book. Each page can be folded into two parts with one column for their mother tongue and the next column for English. This allows children to cover words by folding the page and then self checking their learning.
Children can use the Remember Book independently by:
■ Adding new words at the back
■ Folding the page so they can’t see the English and use their translations to look, cover, say and check that they remember the new word
■ Ticking off words they know and highlighting words they find difficult
■ Copying out the new learning on to post-it notes which they can stick on the wall and learn. These post-it notes could be stuck randomly around the house on specific objects as a label of what it is or put in key places where the children spend time; for example, next to the bed, by the TV or at the back of the front door.
Children can use the Remember Book with a parent or friend by:
■ The parent or friend reading the word in the home language and then the child saying it in English
■ The parent or friend reading the word in English and the child saying it in the home language
■ The child reading the words aloud for the parent or friend who can then check their pronunciation
■ The parent or friend giving the child five words a day from the book in the morning to be reviewed throughout the day.
The Remember Book can form a section of the children’s homework and can become part of the daily homework routine. The work they focus on in their Remember Book can ensure that they are surrounded by language in school and at home. This will motivate them, help them to identify what they need to learn and support progression.