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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Despite having plenty of 11+ VR experience with two DDs, this is a problem I haven't come across before.

I've been working with DS on 11+ prep for a couple of months and it is becoming increasingly clear that his vocabulary knowledge just isn't up to scratch, and I don't know whether anything can be done about this in time for the exam in November. His work on codes is really good, and he can also handle the maths-type questions very well. However, when it comes to finding opposites and similars he panics when he sees a word he doesn't know. I can understand if it's a word such as "acrimonious" or "aesthetic" (both from "The Tutors"), but he even has problems with relatively common words such as "withhold" and "temporary". We've discussed approaches such as eliminating concrete nouns for Type H and how to guess sensibly, but is there really any point in simply learning lists of words, as you never know what is going to come up on the day? Both DDs seemed to be good at retaining vocabulary they had read or heard, in that they often were able to guess at a meaning even though they would not actively use the word themselves. However, DS does not seem to have this skill. He reads a lot but I do wonder how much goes over his head, given his apparent inability to understand basic words.

I think we'll start to get a better idea once he begins to do timed practice tests - but I really am concerned about this lack of vocabulary since at least six of the question types rely heavily on this knowledge. DS is already starting to regard 11+ prep as a bit of a bind, and hates looking up words in the dictionary. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:46 pm 
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Location: East Kent
maybe games like scrabble or boggle and allowing the use of a dictionary. Try www.freerice.com too.

a notebook where he writes down words he doesn;t understand so that he can look up the meaning.

instead of just learning the list maybe choose four a five a day and set him a task to look them up and use them at least once in a sentence.

all these things will help. try googling word games as there are quite a few online, crosswords and puzzle books might also be useful


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:56 pm 
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To add to yoyo123

I use flash cards for unknown words, but I make the parent sit with child using thesaurus to find words that are opposite and similar. Children find it labourious to look up the word themselves, its also a good opportunity to chat about the words.

Cards can be put up around the house, periodically changed.

I use word of the day, where once a few cards have been made up, the child together with the rest of the family have to use that word in a sentance as many times as they can during the day. Make it fun. Also to use at school if possible.

Great believer in adult scrabble but always allow child to use dictionary. Again make it fun, we as a family always cheated...

Patricia


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Thanks, Yoyo - some good ideas there. I just need to start thinking straight. DS does have a notebook which I had envisaged him using "for the odd word he didn't know" ... but it is filling up rapidly! :? I like the "five a day" idea - not too arduous. At the moment we are doing 10 words before our weekly tutoring session, but perhaps it might be better to separate the two activities as I think focusing on what he doesn't know puts him in the wrong frame of mind for learning the techniques, which he is otherwise quick to grasp. We'll also give FreeRice a go - forgot about that one, DD used to love it (see, I'm starting to panic as well! :roll: )

DS has just received a new DSi for Christmas and enjoys his Brain Training game, which I think is good practice for getting him to think quickly against the clock. Does anyone know if there is a game specifically for the DS that helps develop vocabulary? I know there is one called My Word Coach which seems to have mediocre reviews. A DS-based 11+ practice game would be perfect, in an ideal world! :lol:

Thanks for your post Patricia, which I've just spotted - I particularly like the idea of putting words up around the place. Good for DD3 as well - it's not her turn for another two years, but it's never too early to learn new words!

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:34 pm 
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We had a similar problem with DS1. His reading is excellent and he could work out the meaning of new words from their context but not "naked" in a test. It got to the stage where he would just go completely blank at the sight of all vocab type questions. As he was getting more and more frustrated and his performance overall was deteriorating we decided on a less orthodox method - he was to promise that he would get 100% correct on all codes and maths types (which he was comfortable with) and give the vocab questions his best guess. This took the pressure off and as he was less scared of getting the vocab types wrong he got the majority of them right. This is no substitute for improving vocab but we found it a useful exam technique.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:45 pm 
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andyb wrote:
We had a similar problem with DS1. His reading is excellent and he could work out the meaning of new words from their context but not "naked" in a test.

Thanks, Andyb - you've hit the nail on the head. I think that seeing the words out of context throws him quite a bit. He's actually not too bad at the Type F questions, the ones in which you have to make a word by inserting a three letter word, but of course you always get a big clue from the sentence.

I think he could pull up marks on the maths and code questions, so hopefully this will boost his confidence for the rest.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:48 pm 
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To add to andybs post

I tell all my students that after they have learnt all 21 types , I EXPECT:

100% marks in all codes C L N U all maths G I K P all where does the letter come from O and R all Zs

99/100% in hidden 4 letter word E, compound words Q .

A good educated guess ia allowed after applying all techniques on A F J

Leaving B D H M S . They must take good educated guesses, taking care not to fall into known traps eg closest in meaning, do not give me a relationship. Every year children give me bucket and spade and cat and mouse as closest in meaning...

By keeping to these rules it gives the child some leeway to get the odd vocabularly incorrect.

Patricia


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 3:44 pm 
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patricia wrote:
Leaving B D H M S . They must take good educated guesses, taking care not to fall into known traps eg closest in meaning, do not give me a relationship. Every year children give me bucket and spade and cat and mouse as closest in meaning...


This morning, we had rain + sky, and enter + gate! DS saw where he was going wrong - I think he approaches this by looking for words he understands that have a vague connection! If he knows all the words he usually spots the synonyms or opposites fairly quickly, but I think we need to do a bit more work on "educated guessing."

Good point about the other types. I hope he'll be able to score highly enough on these to see him through.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:01 pm 
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this is a really good synonym game
http://www.scholastic.com/wordgirl/synonym_toast.htm


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:13 am 
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Thanks, Yoyo - I've bookmarked it!

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