Word of the Week – From my Adult Classes

(Image taken from http://www.britannica.com/blogs )

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!

(Image taken from http://www.illustrationsource.com )

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!

In addition, many thanks to Emma Herrod, who came up with a great idea – The Two-Week Vocabulary Blogging Challenge (and helped me do a pingback! Thanks a million, Emma!)


18 thoughts on “Word of the Week – From my Adult Classes

  1. Thanks Vicky – this is a great idea. So simple yet really effective.

    I so want to hear more from you lady!

    Emma x

    1. Hello lovely Emma!

      Thank you for your kind comment!

      You are absolutely right, I must blog more. Started off well, then…gotta get my act together!


  2. Looooved the idea Vicky!!! I do something (somewhat) similar, which is a Vocab Bank, where I give them a word a week and they have to use a determined number of them throughout the semester… But mine are regular words. I loved the new words twist to your idea. I’d love to know more of those words!

    Great post! Thanks for sharing Vicky!

    1. Hi Cecilia!

      Thank you for your comment – and great idea! I love the concept of a Vocabulary Bank throughout the semester. Thank you for adding this idea!

      Kindest regards, Vicky

  3. Hi Vicky,
    I really like your idea. It is simple yet effective because most of the students wouldn’t have an opportunity to come across some of these.
    Thanks for sharing 😀

    1. Hi Vladka, so nice to see you here!

      Thank you for your comment and I am happy you like the idea.

      Yes, they are a bunch of very strange words and they get students talking in no time and without realising how much!

      If you try it in your classes, do tell me how you see it in practice.

      Kindest regards,

  4. Hi Vicky,

    Great to see you back on your blog! You should write more of these. 😉

    This sounds like a great idea and one that would work with all different age and ability groups as well. It was a feature of the coursebook we used to use at my school when I first started teaching kids – each page had a ‘password’ introduced with a jingle and some sample sentences. When the kids moved up a grade, their complaint was always “our new book hasn’t got any passwords”!

    I guess the next stage would be to encourage the students to come up with their own words of the week (perhaps on some kind of rotation) – something unusual they’ve come across outside class or while studying. I’m sure they’d love it.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Hi Dave – so nice to see you on my blog as well!

      I appreciate your comment very much and thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement – I am so glad you liked it!

      I love the idea of rotation and thank you for mentioning it! Sometimes they do come up with a word, perhaps a financial term I do not know of or something like that. But now that you mentioned it again, I will do it more regularly with them. Thank you very much for that!

      Kindest regards,

  5. Γεια σου, Βίκυ!

    Καιρό είχα να διαβάσω νέα σου και είχα ανησυχήσει να σου πω την αλήθεια… Ελπίζω να ‘σαι καλά!

    Δεν είμαι σίγουρη αν κατάλαβα καλά το παιχνίδι… Δίνεις μια πρωτότυπης παραγωγής λέξη στους μαθητές σου και τους ρωτάς τι πιστεύουν ότι σημαίνει ή “κατασκευάζεις” λέξεις για να ακούσεις τις απόψεις τους; Και πώς θα μπορούσε να γίνει κάτι τέτοιο στη δική μου, ας πούμε, δευτέρα δημοτικού;

    Φιλιά πολλά από το χιονισμένο Νότο!

    1. Hi Marilia!

      Thank you so much again for stopping by and I will write you the answer in English this time, to encourage you to write in English next time as well : )

      What I do with them is I find unusual words or words that have been recently added to the dictionary, compound words or expressions that they can guess – I either describe them, or as I did with blamestorming, first I played with a word they already knew (brainstorming) and looked like it and had them find it afterwards. For lower levels, you can use easier words if you like. When you do try it with your class, can you let me know how it went?

      I hope this has helped – if you need anything, I will be very happy to help!


  6. Definitely a great way to stimulate discussion among students. I like the fact that the originality of the words is fun, but also easy enough for some guided discovery. I understand your main delight here is the conversation that stems from these words, but what I’m unsure of is is where these words come from and what their frequency is. I can’t say I’ve ever heard of either of them.

    1. Hi Tyson!

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      The truth is that my students are mostly on a B1 level, so it is great for them to understand and discover these words. I will agree with you on the fact that they are not that frequent, but the main thing is that they get talking so much, it totally unlocks them and the language they produce is fantastic! Of course, they may never use them again (and that is not the intention) but then we are led to other topics – the lessons are weaved from there on to great discussions. They enjoy these lessons very much especially after a hard working day.

      There are more words like these, including the ones I mentioned, on this list by Macmillan: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/AtoZ.html

      Thank you so much again, Tyson – much appreciated!

      Kindest regards,

      1. Anything that is a platform for language use (and getting students out of their shells) is a blessing. Plus, perhaps learners will be inspired to take risk with the language too and maybe create their own expressions.

  7. Hi again Tyson!

    Exactly – they are now trying to think of their own words. When they come up with any, I will post them here – with their permission of course : )

    Thank you so much again,

  8. Dear Vicky,
    It was good to finally meet you in person in Paris, though it was so brief, and I am now really looking forward to meeting you properly with a little less time pressure. I really like this idea, and agree with the commentators: Sometimes less is really more, and discussion is so key. Yes, do blog more often.
    Best wishes,

    1. Dear Anne,

      Many thanks for your lovely comment, kind words and support! It was super to meet you and yes, next time it must be mre : ) It will happen! I will add my new slides to the presentation, so watch this space : )

      Vicky xx

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