Teacher: Catherine Eslinger
Proficiency Level of Learners: Intermediate
Age of Learners: High School Age and Above
- Students will be able to describe unfamiliar objects and situations without knowing exact vocabulary. Instead, they will use their existing vocabulary and circumlocution techniques.
- Students will practice circumlocution by avoiding words they already know, then move on to use it to describe things for which they do not know the words.
- Pictures of people showing various personal characteristics (recent
- Audio recording of the song "The Marvelous Toy"
- Handouts of lyrics to chorus and part of one verse
- "Password" cards
- Uncommon household items, such as a vareniye (small Russian pie) maker, pasta drainer, oil filter wrench
Review vocabulary introduced and studied the previous day. Use pictures to remind students of these words.
Tell students that we will be learning how to talk about things for which we don't already know the words. Point out how important this is by explaining how it will expand their oral proficiency and fluency without a lot of new vocabulary.
- Play "The Marvelous Toy," directing students' attention to the chorus,
pointing out that the song describes the toy without ever giving it a name.
Contingency Plan: If I cannot get the audio equipment to work, I will sing the chorus only of the song for the students.
- Ask students what phrases were used to introduce circumlocution. Then ask them if they can think of other phrases that they might use to describe objects or situations for which they did not have a name. Model the use of each of these phrases.
- Model the use of these phrases in context using a variation on the game "I Spy." Choose an object in the classroom and tell the students you will describe it until they correctly guess what it is. Make use of several of the phrases mentioned by they students in the presentation section of the lesson. When they have guessed correctly, ask two other students to choose an object and describe it to the class.
- Pass out a total of six Password cards with three words on each to each pair. Each student should have three cards, and his or her partner should not be able to see the words on each one. Model the game procedure to the whole class by showing them an extra card and using circumlocution techniques to express the idea to them. Have each student try communicate his or her list of words to a partner by circumlocution. The partner will guess what the word is based on clues and description. When one student gets through all the words on his or her first card, the next student tries the same techniques. Students alternate cards until they have gone through all six between them or until time for the activity runs out.
Have one pair at a time come to the front of the room. Ask one to describe and request one of several strange or unfamiliar household items from the other to see if they can successfully make this negotiation.
Require the students to talk to two native speakers of English, making sure to use circumlocution to describe what they wish to communicate, instead of avoiding certain subjects altogether. Ask them to bring in a record of those two conversations, describing what the subject was and what they communicated using circumlocution.
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1997 © Dr. Lynn E. Henrichsen
Department of Linguistics
Brigham Young University
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 22, 1997