The following post was written by Lauren Davis, Eye On Education's Senior Editor. In this post, Lauren talks about some of the 400 new words that were just added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary! She also brings up great ideas for teaching students about vocabulary trends.
Breaking Word News: The Concise Oxford English Dictionary has recently added 400 slang words to its latest edition. The new entries include "jeggings," "mankini," "retweet," "woot," and "textspeak." (Pop quiz: How many of those did you know?)
To keep the dictionary "concise," words had to be dropped. "Cassette" is among the casualties (painful news for us children of the eighties!).
Whenever you see interesting vocabulary news like this, don’t keep it to yourselves—share it with students! Here are some ways to do so.
1. Tell students what new words were added most recently, and teach them how new words are added to the dictionary on a regular basis. It’s important to teach students all the various ways that words come into our language—not only from ancient word parts but from mythology, foreign languages, famous people and places, new advances or problems in science and technology, new pop culture trends, etc.
2. Ask students to think of other slang words they think should be in the dictionary, but aren’t. Have students justify why the words should be made "official."
3. Have students make up new words that don't exist but should. Ask students what problems they face, items they have, or things they do for which there isn't the right word to describe. (For example, when I was a teacher, a student created the word "curprint" to describe my handwriting, which is a mix of cursive and printing.) This activity might seem silly, but it teaches students to think critically about the function of words and why we choose the words we do. It also helps students see that general words like "good" or "bad" don't always cut it; you usually need more specific words for clarity and conciseness. In addition, this activity helps get students excited about learning words and language on a deeper level.
For more vocabulary teaching ideas, see Vocabulary at the Center by Amy Benjamin and John T. Crow. Benjamin and Crow show how to teach vocabulary in an authentic way, so that students truly learn, understand, and retain word meanings. Also check out Benjamin’s Vocabulary at the Beginning…Vocabulary at the Center Webinar on September 8, where she discusses effective vocabulary instruction and the Common Core State Standards.
Comment below with your own teaching ideas!
Lauren Davis, Senior Editor