Word Choice Lesson Plan 1

Created by Jin Kim (Spring, 2012)

Students will be able to...
  •       Recognize common sources of word choice problems, such as using wrong forms (wrong spelling or part of speech), style (informal word choice), idiomatic errors (using wrong articles or prepositions for phrasal verbs), collocation errors
  •       Consider various aspects of vocabulary (part of speech, register, spelling, collocation, meaning in context, frequency, synonymy, etc.) when choosing the “right word” to use in academic writing
  •       Share some common search strategies and reference tools people use when choosing the “right word”
Teacher Instructions and Tasks:

[10 minutes] Diagnostic Test
Give students the Word ChoiceDiagnostic Test in hard copy and have them follow directions to answer all items in step 1 and 2.

[20 minutes] Small group Discussion
Give students the discussion prompt below and have them find the answers to the diagnostic test together in small groups. You may first give them an example to demonstrate how to discuss the questions together by discussing the answer for item 1 in step 1. You may have every group examine all items at the same time or assign smaller sets of items for each group to examine (e.g. assign #1~3 in step 1 to group 1, #4~6 to group 2, etc.) and then have each group report their findings to the whole class.

Group Discussion Prompt
1.       What is the right (or more appropriate) word choice?
2.      The wrong word choice:
            1)      What type of error is made in this word choice? (e.g. spelling, grammar, style, etc.)
            2)     How common is this error in our writing?
            3)     How can we avoid an error like this? (What kinds of strategies can we use?)
Share the strategies or reference tools you often use to solve this word choice problem.

[10 minutes] Answer Check & Class Discussion
Debrief findings from small group discussions as a class. Use Word Choice Diagnostic Test (Key) as a guide. Remember that the purpose of the discussion is not to “teach” students what to do to solve the problems (this will be addressed in Word Choice Lesson 2) but to raise students’ awareness of the sources of common errors in vocabulary and investigate strategies that students use to avoid such errors than about telling them what to do to solve problems.

[10 minutes~] Optional – Understanding Collocations
Among all different types of word choice errors, students may not be well aware of “collocation” errors yet. To raise students’ awareness, you may hand out CollocationWorksheet to students. Go over definitions and examples with students. Then, have them do the simple practice as homework. Emphasize the importance of learning collocations when learning a new word or phrases. Here is the key.

For the next class (Word Choice Strategy Training), have students register for http://www.wordandphrase.info/.This would also allow them access to http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/ since they can use the same email and password to log into both websites.

Supplementary materials:

Zimmerman, C. (2009).  Word Knowledge.  New York: Oxford University Press