Tired Words Wall

Tired Words

Here is another teaching tip that has worked really well in my classes. If you are lucky enough to have a permanent classroom this is a great thing to have on the wall of your classroom. I use this as a way to build vocabulary and get the students to use more difficult words.

Problem: Students use the same word too many times.

For example:

Me: “Yuki, what do you like to do on the weekend and why?”
Yuki: Play soccer because it is interesting.

Me: “Yuki,  What is your favorite class subject and why?”
Yuki: “Science because it is interesting.”

Me: “What did you think of the movie?”
Yuki: “I thought it was interesting.”

You can see the dilemma here, right? The kids are not improving. They aren’t challenging themselves.

Another problem here is that the word interesting in English has a much more specific meaning than it does in Japanese. The many connotations of the word in Japanese doesn’t translate into English. Interesting in Japanese is omoshiroi (おもしろい). If you want to say your favorite comedian in Japanese is funny you say he is omoshiroi. When you want to say you enjoyed your class field trip you say it was omoshirokatta. In natural English, we would most likely use 3 different words in those situations.

Solution: the TIRED WORDS wall.

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“Tired words” are the words that your students rely on too much when writing or speaking. I have this on the wall of my classroom. Each word is written on a pocket. Inside the pockets are synonyms in English that have different connotations. I also have the word translated into Japanese on the same slip of paper.

photo 3 (13)

Whenever a student uses one of the “tired words” in a less than genuine way or an improper way I have them go to the front of the room and look at the synonyms to find a word that they might want to use more.

So the dialog I had with Yuki earlier becomes:

Me: “Yuki, what do you like to do on the weekend and why?”
Yuki: Played soccer because it was fun.

Me: “Yuki,  What is your favorite class subject and why?”
Yuki: “Science because it is fascinating.”

Me: “What did you think of the movie?”
Yuki: “I thought it was entertaining.”

I saw a similar board on Pinterest, which was used in an elementary school classroom to build literacy. The main difference was that the words that the teacher used and I increased the synonyms in each pocket to have more varieties of meanings.

I can’t find the pin anymore but if you have it or know where it is, send it to me and I’ll link it here.

Do you have this problem in your classroom? Do you do something similar? If you do something differently, how do you deal with it?

1 Response

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