Monday, March 30, 2015

The Book Thief: Learning and Teaching Strategies

I like the book and the movie. The story is gripping and full of contrasts. I do recommend it. This scene was used in my Methodology class. We talked about learning strategies and this scene - a compilation of scenes - provided everyone with food for thought.

I. Work in pairs:

1. Do you consider yourself a good learner? Explain it.

2. Do you remember any strategies you used (or was taught) to learn a new language or vocabulary?

3. Do you have different strategies according to the subject you are studying?

4. Why do you think it is important to learn about learning strategies?

II. Read the suggestion below on how to become a good learner.

  • find a learning style that suits you
  • find a learning style that suits you
  • involve yourself in the language learning process
  • develop an awareness of language both as system and as communication
  • pay constant attention to expanding your language
  • develop the L2 as a separate system 
  • take into account the demands that L2 learning imposes  
1. Do you follow the suggestions above when you are learning a new topic/ If so, do you do it consciously or is it an automatic process for you?

III. Read the Vocabulary acquisition strategies listed on the site   Then check the strategies you make use of while learning new words. Discuss your choices with a partner and explain how you do it.

Vocabulary strategies

1 ( )  linking L2 sounds to sounds of the L1 word

2 ( )  looking at the meaning of part of the word

3 ( ) noting the structure of part

4 ( ) putting the word in a topic group

5 ( ) visualising the word in isolation

6 ( ) linking the word to a situation

7 ( ) creating a mental image of the word

8 ( ) associating a physical sensation with the word

9 ( ) associating the word with a keyword

IV. Repeat the process with the cognitive strategies below. Work in pairs. Check the strategies you make use of while learning new words.

1. ( ) repetition: imitating other people's speech overtly or silently. 

2. ( )  resourcing: making use of language materials such as dictionaries. 

3. ( ) directed physical response; responding physically 'as with directives'. 

4. ( ) translation: 'using the first language as a basis for understanding and/or producing the L2' 

5. ( ) grouping: organising learning on the basis of 'common attributes'. 

6. ( ) note-taking: writing down the gist etc of texts.  

7. ( ) deduction: conscious application of rules to processing the L2. 

8. ( ) recombination: putting together smaller meaningful elements into new wholes.  

9. ( )  imagery: visualising information for memory storage - "Pretend you are doing something indicated in the sentences to make up about the new word". 

10. (auditory representation: keeping a sound or sound sequence in the mind - "When you are trying to learn how to say something, speak it in your mind first". 

 11. ( ) key word: using key word memory techniques, such as identifying an L2 word with an L1 word that it sounds like. 

12. ( ) contextualisation: 'placing a word or phrase in a meaningful language sequence'.  

 13. ( ) elaboration: 'relating new information to other concepts in memory'. 

14. ( ) transfer: using previous knowledge to help language learning - "If they're talking about something I have already learnt (in Spanish), all I have to do is remember the information and try to put it into English"  

15. ( ) inferencing: guessing meanings by using available information - "I think of the whole meaning of the sentence, and then I can get the meaning of the new word".  

16. ( ) question for clarification: asking a teacher or native for explanation, help, etc.  

V. Watch the movie segment and check the vocabulary learning strategies (Ex: IV) Liesel made use of to learn how to read and acquire vocabulary.



  1. the link to the site is broken, the activity is fantastic, but I'd like to be able to use the site as well.

  2. Katia,
    What do you mean? You cannot access the blog? How did you manage to write the comment, then? Can you explain it better? I tried 4 different computers and the site and links are working just fine.

  3. She meant the link to the vocabulary list in the "good language learners strategies" website. I tried and I failed as well.

  4. Thanks for warning me. I changed the site because the other one was removed from the web.