The English Classroom

A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS

Weird and Wonderful Words

The Situation

You want your students to generate a love for language and become curious about words.

The Solution

Before we kick into this, checkout this video.

It is always important to make learning relatable to for students. Learning about language doesn’t always need to be a foreign concept. If you are learning about poetry, connect it to the present, explore how Shakespeare connects to Eminem. There are always connections if you are willing to find them.

There are many words that your students have likely never heard of. Words have a history. And that history is where you can get your students onboard with asking question. For instance, did you know that gardyloo was a word “…used by people in medieval Scotland to warn passers-by of waste about to be thrown from a window into the street below”. This is a great discussion point for students.

The goal, as above, is to make it relatable. Make it interesting. Find a word that gets students thinking in a different way, or about a different time in history.

I have shown my students a number of weird and wacky words and they always ask me “what language is that?” or “is that even a word?”

Here are a few that I think are wonderful:

Catawampus

Snollygoster

Taradiddle

Bumfuzzle

Widdershins

Biddle

Collywobbles

Kakorrhaphiophobia

Ratoon

Lollygag

Zenith

Loquacious

Rambunctious

Cacophony


Look at the powerpoint below and feel free to print. I have done so and posted the words all around my whiteboard. Sometimes, we will stop in a lesson and I will ask students, “what does zenzizenzizenzic mean?”

Students will instantly prick up their ears!

“What?”

“How do you say it?”

“That isn’t a word!”

“What does it mean?”

This is the type of response you want!

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