LEARNING STRATEGY: Manage Your Own Learning
STANDARDS: Communication 1.1, 1.2


Language: Any language

Proficiency Level: Beginner

Brief description of the activity: Students will read a passage in the target language about animals. If they encounter an unfamiliar word for an animal, they will write a card for that word, including the word and the context. After they finish reading, they will find the meanings of the words by discussing them with classmates, looking in a dictionary, or using another appropriate source.


  1. Students will be able to identify animal names in the target language.
  2. Students will develop reading skills.
  3. Students will be able to manage their learning by solving problems they encounter while learning on their own.
  4. Students will be able to develop a system that works for them to learn new words they encounter.

Language focus: Reading, Vocabulary

Materials: a short reading about animals, blank cards


  1. Introduce the content
    Explain that in this activity, students will practice a system that may help them understand more and remember more terms when they read. Everyone will read the same passage individually. Any word related to animals that the students do not understand, they are to write on a blank card, including the sentence or phrase surrounding the word.
  2. Introduce and model the learning strategy
    Give an example of how you approach a reading passage in a foreign language. For example, you might prefer to choose a quiet place where there are no distractions and perhaps you take notes while reading, underline unfamiliar words or write them on cards, or try to make mental pictures of descriptions. Explain that you are managing your learning by figuring out how you learn best.
  3. Practice
    Have learners read the text and define new terms by working with classmates to discuss the words, checking a dictionary (print or online), or making a guess from the context. Students should then reread the passage and make sure their definitions make sense. After they read, ask students which method they prefer for figuring out the meanings of the unfamiliar words.


  1. Students use cognates to help them complete another reading passage containing a similar set of vocabulary in the target language, such as food names, or names of common flowers. Similar techniques, such as using cognates, the context, and a dictionary may be used to find the new word meanings.
  2. Ask students to use cognates to help them understand a listening passage.

Teacher Resources (to help teacher enhance activity): You can find colorful pictures of animals in magazines and on the Web to show the class. A fun site is this one, which lists the sounds of animals as they are expressed in different languages: http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/ballc/animals/