Exploiting linguistics in the language class

Strange title you may say, don’t we always exploit linguistics in class? Certainly, what I look at here is presenting explicit linguistic information in the form of “factoids” or “trivia”. I have done this over a number of weeks with one class as a warmer activity. I word the warmer as Language Trivia.

Examples of such items have included:
American Dialect Society’s Word of the Year (2015) and associated lists
French phrases hidden in English Words
Selena Gomez’s “Good For You” And The Rise Of “Indie Pop Voice”
Top phrasal verbs in English, using the PHaVE dictionary
Mysteries of vernacular: Robot

After some weeks I asked the students to bring in their own examples of language trivia. There were some great examples which I may use later. For example one student told me that all the letters of English are contained in the phrase – The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs, an example of a pangram.

Sometimes the reactions of students to the linguistic information is great to watch. Language trivia are a great way to activate the natural curiosity people have with language.

If you keep an eye on social media there are many examples of language trivia that can be used.

Have you tried something similar in your classes? Do share any language trivia you have come across.

Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Exploiting linguistics in the language class

  1. I’ve sometimes dropped in a little historical linguistics to explain irregularities in the modern language – for example, how otherwise extinct endings explain why we use -en for oxen and children. I don’t ask them to remember the details, but sometimes they appreciate knowing there’s a reason for the quirks beyond “this is irregular, we just need to memorize it.”

    1. hi Curt

      that’s a good idea, i would need to read up on such things more though : )

      thanks for commenting

      fyi i think i will try to add some additional resources to this post as i find them

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