How to make vocab resources with a production / output focus

Vocab resources with an output focus ask the question "how do you say ...?" rather than "what does ... mean?"

The focus is on students' productive skills (speaking, writing) rather than on receptive skills (listening, reading), so they are more challenging for students.

The screen image above shows a textivate Match resource which has the following characteristics:

  • The matching items are in the order L1 >>> L2
    This means that the L1 item will be presented first, with students being required to say how that L1 word or phrase is said in the target language.

  • No text-to-speech
    Since adding L2 text to speech would make many of the activities much easier, turning them into dictation-type activities rather than "how do you say" activities.

  • Several mainly input-focused activities have been removed
    Snap because this is more about recognition;
    Shuffle, Switch, Click Match, Memory because these are not really output-focused;
    Hangman because this does not ask the question "how do you say ...?"
    See this blog post about excluding particular activities from the textivate menu.
    The image below shows the activities which have been excluded (via the "Extras" tab):

Here is a link to the resource shown above: French, daily routine, perfect tense

N.B. The most output focused activities are:

  • the Letters activities (Vowels, Consonants, 50:50, Initials, No letters, Anagrams) - which require students to spell the words, with varying levels of support;
  • Invaders, Snake and Maze - which require selective letter filling in game formats;
  • Flashcards - which does not require any writing / spelling, but tests students recall. ( Note that different levels of support can be provided via the "clue" selector at the bottom left.)


Why not set a Challenge each week based on this sort of resource? You could award prizes (according to your school's reward system) for the highest scorers, and you could require all students to score a specified minimum number of points each week (1000? 5000? -- bear in mind that the Letters activities score many more points than the simple matching activities, and Flashcards scores next to nothing because students assess themselves). 

Doing this sort of thing regularly should make a big impact on your students' ability to produce core vocab and expressions.

(See this blog post about Challenges on textivate)


Related posts:

How to make match resources with a receptive focus