New Words

Last week Cultura Inglesa Rio de Janeiro’s Facebook page posted the picture below. It reminded me of a lesson I taught last year, when new words were included in the Oxford Online Dictionary.

If you have been paying close attention to the posts on this blog you should be familiar with clickbait. If you don’t know what the other words mean, however, you definitely don’t want to miss this lesson.


You could start the lesson by asking students if they can think of any words that have recently become part of dictionaries. If they can’t come up with any answers, suggest selfie or selfie-stick, which students are very likely to know.

Then tell students they are going to read an article from a British newspaper called The Telegraph, about words that have recently been included in a dictionary. Here are some possible while-reading questions:

  • What sources do the new words come from?
  • How do dictionary makers discover these new words?
  • Have they also been included in the paper dictionary?

At this point you might want to tell your students that the meanings of new words are going to be dealt with later (as they are not relevant to the while-reading questions).

You can find the original article here and my adapted version (including a glossary) below:

New Words – The Telegraph

After checking answers with the whole group, use the question below to bridge the gap between the reading activity and the next part of the lesson.

  • Had you already come across any of these new words?  If so, what was the context?

After accepting contributions from students, you could ask them to read the dictionary definitions in the back of the text. It might be worth it to clarify some of the expressions or ask students some questions to check meaning. Possible follow-up questions are:

  • Which of these words do you think are fads?
  • Which of these words do you think will stand the test of time? Why?

Before getting students to use the expressions themselves, I suggest using the following videos in which the new words are used. First there’s a news video from CNN where the new dictionary entries are announced.

  • How do the presenters feel about the new words?
  • What makes you say that?
  • Do they mention any words that don’t appear in the article?

There is also an interview with professional tennis players who have their knowledge of new words tested. This is particularly interesting because some of them aren’t native speakers of English.

  • Which words mentioned in the article appear in the video?
  • Which of the tennis players does the best job of answering the questions?
  • Which words cause the most confusion?

These videos should give you additional opportunities to clarify the meaning and pronunciation of some of the expressions. To finish things off I suggest using personalized questions using the new language

  • Have you got any young relatives that are adorbs?
  • Have you seen any films or read any books recently that were amazeballs?
  • Do you binge-watch any TV series?
  • Do you have any friends who are a hot mess?
  • Do you like reading listicles on Facebook or Buzzfeed?
  • Do you think people look good with neckbeard?
  • Who is the most tech-savvy person in your family?
  • Do you agree with the YOLO saying?
  • Has anybody thrown shade at you recently?

Thanks for reading

2 thoughts on “New Words

  1. Pingback: In defence of idioms | ricardo barros elt

  2. Pingback: Word of the Year: a conversation lesson | ricardo barros elt

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