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How to ensure assimilation and retention in ESL language learning classes

The wrong PQE plan is one that would follow the Cambridge model without the necessary interlinking. The Cambridge model says that language consists of speaking, writing, reading, listening – therefore that’s what we have to teach them.

In actual fact, this approach could work fine if the material they were using was interlinked and allowed certain common phrases and vocab to be repeated … but it never is. The result is that students are soon put on a merryground of lots of different exercises wich haven’t been weaved together skillfully resulting in an information overload. Then, in a sincere effort to teach them the language teachers start throwing shit loads of grammar often spending no more than half a class on it and move onto the next theme.

This begins a cycle which you must be aware of to understand why so many students fail. It is a cycle of information overload that can be summarized in the following way…

Students are given loads of units to pass through. First they do unit 1 then they move onto unit 2 but they never truly assimilated what was in unit 1. This process then continues through all subsequent units. The result at the end is a whole suite of underdeveloped skills, words not memorized correctly and half assimilated grammar. The course has failed.

Every unit you do whether it’s grammar, vocab whatever, ask yourself the TAQ “did they assimilate that information.” And just for the record assimilate means.

That they can use the word, grammatical form etc.. without having to pause for a long time.
It is the common error of Information Overload that dictates and shapes what goes in the PQE. Basically, you must follow one simple guideline

– put in as little as possible.

It is better your students achieve total assimilation of a small number of language items that a mountain of wooly half baked words, forms and skills. You must therefore prioritiose and how to judge this priority is expounded in the next chapter.

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