In addition to my Fine Arts classes, I'm teaching three Latin courses. They are whole-year courses and the Mid-Terms in each tend to be somewhat memorization-intensive.
I remember my own days of stultifying high school Spanish being led repetitively through endless vocab drills and suffering the wrath of a teacher who couldn't understand that every sentient being wasn't born with the ability to roll r's.
And so, I've tried to break things up a bit.
As all foreign language teachers know, rote memorization is just part of the game. You just can't learn a language without being immersed entirely in verb forms and noun declensions.
It's just the nature of the beast.
So, what I've been doing -- and what seems to be working pretty well -- is having students use Twitter for verb parsing review and translation practice. I first forayed into this pedagogical area maybe nine months ago and have since worked out a few 'tried and tested' techniques that I offer all language teachers. Here are the top three:
1. Twitter for verb parsing review: Have the students identify and parse verbs directly from a text into the hashtag of a Twitter feed. After ten or so minutes, stop and review the results in the feed. Incorrect parses are corrected and all correct and corrected items are saved to a second hashtag or to a wiki. In the future, I plan to make the second hashtag saved to FriendFeed for the archiving capabilities. Either way, this gives the students a collaboratively built verb study guide and is far more entertaining and engaging than sitting at a desk sounding out dozens of verb forms for what seems like hours on end.
2. Using Twitter as a 'lifeline' for translation exercises: Each student opens up the text, the Twitter feed, and a digital English/Latin dictionary in his or her browser. As each sentence is Tweeted, a virtual compendium of common mistakes inevitably is created. We then follow the system described in #1.
3. Twitter as formative assessment for foreign language translation: One of the nice things Twitter provides the foreign language teacher is a continuous, time-stamped record of posts searchable in real-time. I use this to gauge how individual students are progressing -- if I see students struggling in time or accuracy, it is a simple matter to gauge the problem and intervene as necessary.
These are just a few techniques that have worked well. I'd love to hear about things you all have worked out.