Bad Memory

Discussion on teaching ESL to those with special needs such as blind or deaf learners

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Bad Memory

Unread postby vikingobi » 16 Oct 2009, 16:46

I am turoring an elderly couple in basic conversational English and the lady has a great deal of trouble remembering anything. I contextualise the lessons as much as possible, many visual aids, but as soon as the language is not in front of her she cannot seem to recall it. I know she had a stroke a few years ago and this could affect her memory. Are there any approaches or methods that might be helpful in this situation?
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby Loulou » 16 Nov 2009, 10:46

When you say she can't remember the language are you talking about structures or vocabulary? I have no experience in special needs but if it is vocabulary that she is having trouble remembering how about using flashcards. I know this sounds horribly condescending but children often remember words in association with pictures. Why not give it a try (in an adult-adapted way)? I also had a teen student once who just couldn't remember words so we stuck them up all over his house eg: a post-it with the word "fridge" on the fridge and that really worked well too.
Obviously, I realise that the teen didn't have any special needs, just a bad memory or case of laziness so this idea may not work with your student but it's the only thing I could think of. Sorry!

I hope you find help. Please post what you do if it works, it's always good to know for future use!
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby vikingobi » 24 Nov 2009, 17:14

Thanks very much. I am trying lots of different approaches, I'll let you know how things go.
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby Pepsi » 29 Dec 2009, 21:44

Hi
I am new to the site.
I teach learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. I too have learners who have had strokes along with other mental illnesses in my computer class, so I kind of know where you are coming from. I have found that the best way for my learners to remember where the keys are and how to use the computer is simply to repeat a task for several weeks at a time and then move on to the next topic but still incorporating the previously learned lesson within it so as to embed the skills. Returning to the original one at a later date as a means of assessment.
I hope this is useful, that is if you haven't already cured the problem.

Pepsi
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby Peter Easton » 07 Jan 2010, 09:59

There has been some good research on how stroke suffers can reacquire language. If you google 'neuroplasticity' you can learn a bit about it. Ultimately though I’m afraid it comes down to frequency and volume of repetition and active use of the material. There are no shortcuts really but there are plenty of interesting ways you can couch repetitive learning.
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby buniac » 03 Mar 2011, 15:35

I think that the best way to help these learners is to focus on the task to achieve and repeat it as a "do now" task. I have been teaching students with small difficulties concerning memory and I thought that repeating the activity as a warm-up gave good results. The "do now" task consists in a short activity (5-10 minutes) to begin the lesson. They are asked to reproduce what has been done in the previous class individually, then in group. They are able to recognize what is mastered and what has been forgotten. The help that the whole group activity brings to each of my students does a partial job in remembering things. I play a role of helper also, but in a different way. I tend to use at some times drills to help them for their memory skills. Doing activities over and over again will enhance their memory skills and in my opinion, it leads to results.
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby cyndie » 03 Mar 2011, 15:44

I agree with the repeating part.
I think that most people with memory problems can learn something even if they think it is impossible. One of the best way is to introduce vocabulary as a routine: for example sing a song every day when you start your lesson. Sing the same song for awhile and they will have no choice but to learn it by heart one day. Now when it will happen, take notes on the numbers of time that it took for them to learn the song. That way, you’ll have a great idea of how many times you are suppose to repeat something for them to learn it. It will be a start!
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby NatGagnon » 03 Mar 2011, 16:14

Perhaps you could check out how people with learning disorders such as dyslexia function. When dealing with people of the sort, there is a certain process related to memorizing words and images, to ensure the correct orthography. Picture-word relationships are quite important in order to learn a new language, and our usually done with the help of flashcards, as mentioned above. However, adults might find the use of flashcards to ridicule them, and hence lower their self-accomplishment feeling since they will feel like a child. A good way to work with adults is often with movies or simple video clips. With these tools, it is easier to associate an image, a word, and a concept altogether, by recalling on a visual aid in their mind.
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby stremblay » 03 Mar 2011, 16:26

I also think that repetition is the best way to proceed in that situation. You can also try using physical response. I know that this is a bit ''childish'', but I think that having her act out the instructions you give to her will help. However, it would be useful for us to know the level at which your students are. Are they at the same level as beginners or else? The teaching technique you want to use with them utterly depends on their language level in my opinion. By then, I'm sure you will find a way to help her memorize what is taught because there are plenty of teaching techniques avaible and that have been proven effective by many practitioners!

Sam
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Re: Bad Memory

Unread postby aniaLL » 03 Mar 2011, 16:34

I think, in the case when you teach the elders a foreign language, you should try to teach them like little children. This means, establish routines in your lessons. The student will know what to expect from you and, more importantly, you will know what to expect from your student. It is also important to focus on repetitions and drills. Word and expressions should be repeated for so many times that then, the students feel almost automatically to respond to them. Even singing songs and learning poems could be good for the elder students (as long as they feel comfortable in doing so).
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