One day at school I was having a break and leafing through a large dictionary we have there. There are so many new words in there and many are pretty impressive, the way they have been made up! I was thinking of how I could teach my students one word per week from a number that have made an impression on me and give them material for further discussion.
Then I got the idea – what about writing one of these words on the board right before they come in every time? With most of them we have one meeting per week, so it could easily be called The Word of the Week project!
What I do is I usually write it on the board before they come in and make a big circle around it. You should see the anticipation they have on their faces every time they come in – they shake my hand and say their hellos and good mornings and ask me: “So…what’s the Word of the Week this week?” and they immediately sit down and look at the board.
The very first one I wrote for them (and which has become one of their favourites) was daycation. This one made them laugh plus they described vacations, daily outings and they really liked the combination of words. I was very happy to learn that even when they went back to their offices after the lesson they were making examples amongst themselves with the word and they came to our next meeting, eagerly telling me what they had come up with!
Another time I had them guess. The word was going to be blamestorming that week so I had them play around a bit. I aksed them questions such as How do you call it when you are all sitting together coming up with ideas for a project? When they got brainstorming, then I asked them and what would you call it if someone were looking to pass the responsibility to somebody for something they had done? So they were searching for a word and then reached blame …and when they found the Word of the Week, they loved it! Additionally, we came up with alternatives to pass the responsibility – for instance shirk the responsibility and idioms such as pass the buck.
The conversations we have had based on The Word of the Week are amazing and sometimes take up the whole meeting – it gets them talking, they learn a great deal in the process and they take it to their work and share it with other colleagues as well. Their learning and practice continues even outside the classroom, which is great for them.
This is an idea I am planning on implementing with my younger learners as well. It can be customised for any level or any age group and really gets everyone talking!
♦ Some of the words or phrases I have used so far with my classes, apart from the ones mentioned above are:
me-time (and we-time), al desko, earworm, couch tomato, googleable, locavore, staycation.
What I am interested in most of the times is not so much for them to retain the specific words, but the great discussions that stem from these words. If you have more like these, or that you find can incite a discussion in class, please feel free to add them!
Many thanks to Cecilia Coelho, who recommended I write some of the words we use in class. Thank you Cecilia!