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Play with Your Words (Orbit 9, October 2019)

article by Zoë Disher , image The BFG by Erik Roadfeldt

worksheet: Comprehension – Understanding the influence of words

Understanding

ACELA1501, EN3-1A, ACELA1504, EN3-3A, ACELA1512, EN3-6B, ACELA1797, EN3-5B

Introduce text type—Information text

Identify the structural features of information texts. Students to use various highlighter pens to identify the features. Use one colour each to highlight titles, subtitles, captions. (This could be on a photocopy to preserve the magazine). Another print feature is the matching words and meanings activity, ‘Who Said That?’ Another organisational feature in this text is the use of italics, which helps the reader to find specific information. Each subheading introduces a new person who creates words in their work. Roald Dahl, Pierre Coffin and JK Rowling. Images are aligned with the content of these blocks of information.

Visual literacy

Discuss how the organisation of the content is designed to take the reader’s eye around the page. A quick glance at the article, and various elements jump out at the reader, such as the title, the subheadings and the images. Two modes of text are used here to communicate different messages to the reader. Writing and images and both are texts to be read, either in isolation or in combination with each other.

Images with captions: In ‘Play with Your Words’, the images are still shots from movies and animations, and photographs of various people discussed in the article. While images are placed to ‘break up’ the overall text, to make it easier to read than a large grey block of writing, they also supply additional information, which is why we need to be ‘visually literate’ in order to decode the messages they produce.

Develop an appreciation of visual layout with the students. A hands-on approach would be to supply magazine pictures, blocks of text, headings and subheadings and ask them to arrange the elements in a pleasing fashion. Various ‘headlines’ will affect their layouts. For example, an alien invasion may need a more dynamic layout. An article about gardening may need a calming layout. This activity shows students that they already have an intuitive understanding of how elements communicate to the viewer.

Alternatively, use digital devices to organise the visual layout above, iPads can use Pages, computers can use Word docs.

Tip for Word: There are additional features in Word that are good for formatting images. When placing an image in the document, double tap on the image and the commands and tabs bar a new command named ‘picture format’ appears.

Identify language features.

Discuss that this article is written using an approachable voice to suit the audience—students in primary school. As an information text, it is more conversational, entertaining and engaging. Ask students,

  • How do you think this would be written if the audience were adults rather than children? Would the language be more formal and technical?
  • There are many parts in the article where the author is directly engaging with the reader, by asking rhetorical questions. Why has the author used this device? (This device is used in persuasive texts and is used very effectively here at both the beginning and ending of the text.)
  • Why did the author use alliteration in the third paragraph?

Complete this KWL Chart worksheet to list important points of the text. Ask: what do you know about the information presented in the article. What do you want to find out? Students can finish their study of the text by completing the final column: What did you learn?

Write some of the words from the poem. Look at the descriptions for different ‘isms’ in the article. Identify the type of word in the poem and explain what ‘rule’ it follows to make it belong to that group.

Identify and use words for a vocabulary lesson. A useful resource is this Vocabulary template. Focus on real words in the text that students may find unfamiliar, e.g. neologisms, malapropisms, spoonerisms, profiterole, multilingual (Tip: Teachers to supply the correct definition, this will save time and confusion).

English Textual Concepts S3 Code and Convention Genre

 

Connecting

ACELT1608, EN3-8D, ACELT1609, EN3-2A, ACELT1795, EN3-1A

Connecting text to self.

Brainstorm words that students and their families may have made up themselves. Using the words in the story to start with, ask are there any nonsense or funny sounding words that you or your family have made up? Any words that you have made up that do make sense in some way?

Guess the meaning of the word. Play a whole class game by having individual students say the word to the class, and students can try to guess the meaning, using some of the rules from the text—moving the sounds around, suffixes prefixes, root words. What do they mean?

Create a class chart of personal neologisms, spoonerisms and malapropisms. Label each word with student names.

Connecting text to text

Discuss genres. In this issue of Orbit, science fiction and fantasy are genres that use Gobblefunk words extensively. Imagined worlds need new words to describe things that may not exist in the real world. It is important to note that these words should not be too confusing so the flow of reading (cohesion) is not interrupted.

Create Gobblefunk words? Search the texts in this issue of Orbit for made up words. ‘Bongo Bellies’, a poem by CL Clickard, has a ‘roguish beat’ created by dragons playing bongo on their bellies for example Dum-ba-DA pla-daba-daba. While this is an example of onomatopoeia you could create a new verb—Bellybonging! ‘Camping in the Sleeping Pod’ by Marian Steinmetz talks of ‘Almost Real Popcorn.’ What Gobblefunk word could you create to describe this feast?

Brainstorm other movies, games, stories or poetry that use made up words such as those discussed in the article.

View Benedict Cumberbatch reciting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky for a multimodal approach to this famous text.

Connecting text to world.

How do the ideas in ‘Play with Your Words’ relate to the larger world—past, present and future? The following discussion starters can be used in conjunction with this Connecting organiser.

Past: The English language has changed since the time of Shakespeare. Students can use this Shakespearean Translator to write text in contemporary English which instantly converts to Shakespearean English.

Present: Australians love to create new words called ‘slang’. These words often may not make sense to people from other countries. We often abbreviate and combine words, shortening a word is part of our ‘laid back’ style. For example, the word selfie—the term for taking a picture of yourself with a smart phone—was a word that was made up in Australia! Some other words that we use in conversational English are: Accadacca, (the band ACDC), S’arvo, (this afternoon) and Chocky Biccy. Can you think of more? If you come from a multicultural background, can you give additional examples and their meanings?

Future: This text shows that language constantly evolves as we embrace new words over time. There can be many reasons for this. Words reflect changes due to trade across cultures, technology and new inventions. Special words give us a sense of belonging in our social groups and reflect our changing lives. Words such as email, blog, clickbait, podcasts, carbon footprint have only been used in the last couple of decades due to the development of the internet and climate change. What could our language look like in the future? Think of an imagined setting such as the fantasy and sci-fi (which is a Gobblefunk word) setting, and how technology or society will require new words to explain those worlds. It is inherent in our human nature to ‘play with our words’!

English Textual Concepts S3 Context Intertextuality Point of View

 

Engaging critically

ACELA1500, EN3-4A, ACELA1501, EN3-1A, ACELA1504, EN3-3A, ACELA1512, EN3-6B, ACELT1610, EN3-8D

Identify the author’s voice in the article. The conversational tone and the language used in ‘Play with Your Words’ is different to that which is used in articles for The Sydney Morning Herald, yet they are both informational texts. Although most media outlets strive to be impartial, there is still an element of persuasion in both. Why is this? The answer is the ‘author’s purpose.’ Texts like these are written to inform and persuade, but the audience is very important as well. Knowing the target audience means the author must change their ‘voice’ to suit.

For example, an article written for children will use words that suits the age and interests of the audience. The article must be written in an engaging way, or children will quickly become bored. For adults, the language is more formal, factual and uses expert and technical language. This convinces that particular audience that the author is knowledgeable and therefore more believable.

An example of a media outlet that use a similar author’s voice to that of ‘Play with Your Words’ (i.e. conversational and friendly), is Behind the News (BTN) by the ABC.

Watch an episode of BTN to find out how a word like ‘combertuna’, which means ‘a string of bad luck’ gets into a dictionary. In fact, by doing this activity, you are helping to expose the word and increase its chances of being included!

Write a review of the program. In the review, discuss the language used. Is it entertaining and, if so, in what way? Does the presenter tell jokes or humorous anecdotes? Do they include interesting facts and use technical jargon or expert language? Or do they ask rhetorical questions of the viewer to engage them?

Use the pdf Texts types (different types of writing) to assist with planning.

Research the official Roald Dahl website. Create a PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation about the author. Remember to reference all images and ideas taken from the site.

Book Review: Write a review of one of Roald Dahl’s books, recommending it to other students. Here is a pdf on Book Review Writing: A guide for young reviewers. Remember that a book review is a persuasive text, as its purpose is to persuade readers to buy the book!

English Textual ConceptsS3 Argument Authority Context Representation

 

Experimenting

ACELA1513, EN3-4A, ACELA1829, ACELT1611, EN3-3A, ACELT1612, EN3-7C, ACELT1798, EN3-2A, ACELY1700, EN3-1A, ACELY1704, ACELY1707

Use the chart below to categorise the devices and their meanings from the article. Other words in the article that students can put in the table: buzzwangle, whizzpopper, Poopaye, Crucio, Expecto Patronum, muggle, quidditch.

Add new Gobblefunk words. These can be words students have made up themselves. Students can Create and edit this in a Word document.

Make a rhyme using the words created.

  • Select a word, make another word to rhyme, such as whizzpopper—fizzwhopper.
  • Make sentences for each to make a rhyming couplet.
  • Make several sentences/rhyming couplets and write them on separate strips of paper.
  • Arrange the sentences so they make some sort of sense, students must make the whole poem have a cohesive structure.

Publish the poem. Use a Green screen app to take photos of students in various outfits and backdrops, appropriate to each rhyming couplet. (You can refer to the article ‘Top 5 Best Green Screen Apps for 2019’.)

Literary Device Meaning Words In a sentence
Neologism A new word that people like and use, that becomes absorbed into the English language Gobblefunk

 

Roald Dahl created the word ‘Gobblefunk’ to describe the new words he made up.
malapropism Made up words that sound like real words Cattlepiddler / Caterpillar

Cannybull / Cannibal

Gloriumptious / glorious and scrumptious

spoonerisms Words that have the sounds swapped around Porteedo / torpedo

Catasterous disastrophe / disastrous catastrophe

Additional activities

Write the main events of the article. Hint: look at the first line of every paragraph for its main idea.

Write a letter to the author, Zoë Disher, about something that either impressed you or concerned you about the piece.

Research other poets who wrote these kinds of words, like Lewis Carroll. Write an additional paragraph to the article, this time about Carroll and his famous poem, ‘Jabberwocky’.

Write a story for Orbit that is based on this issue’s theme: fantasy and science fiction.

Create your own BTN episode using iMovie.

Author’s Chair: Read your work to the class.

English Textual Concepts S3 Code and Convention Genre Intertextuality Representation