I would once have thought I had a larger working vocabulary than the average person. I’d even have gone so far as to suggest I was articulate. However, living through MA studies involves a certain degree of humility regarding one’s knowledge of English vocabulary. This, one might argue, is relative to how a non-native speaking student who felt English was simple and fun in their home country might feel once entering undergraduate study at an English speaking university.

To celebrate this acceptance of humility, I present two vocabulary lists to you: (1) recent vocabulary from my MA studies and (2) favourite vocabulary I use, but has rarely if ever been included in any language class I’ve taught. Most definitions are my own, unless followed by a reference.

Tyson’s MA academic vocabulary list

affordance n. The qualities of an object that provide opportunities for some behaviour. (van Lier, 1996) //rel. afford v.
e.g. The affordances provided by the selected web tool should be considered when determining its appropriacy for a particular lesson.

cogitation n. thoughts we have that we spend a long time considering
e.g. My cogitations regarding the most concise yet effective ways to word something help me do so concisely and effectively, in cases other than this.

dialectic n/adj. Use of logical arguments through exchange to investigate and arrive at truth
e.g. A thorough dialectic between major news networks is needed before any reports are presented as fact.

espoused theory n. The actions, methods, etc. teachers claim they are doing in class // opp. theory-in-practice n.
e.g. The espoused theory and theory-in-practice are often not the same, to the surprise of the teachers involved.

exigency n. An urgent need or demand.
e.g. The exigency of our current situation is for truth and justice regarding Boston.

Tyson’s frequently used but rarely taught vocabulary

asinine adj. absolutely foolish or idiotic
e.g. It’s asinine how stupid the dribble by CNN commentators is and doubly for those that would hear them and agree.

cognisant adj. show knowledge of and keep in mind
e.g. We need to be cognisant of the effects of what the news reports has on un-dialectic listeners.

harbinger n. sign or symbol foreshadowing events or trends
e.g. Our bottle of wine bursting inside our suitcase before we boarded was a harbinger of things to come during our vacation.

incidentally adv. used to preface a remark unconnected or loosely connected to the current topic
e.g. During the ARC in-class discussions, groups work together through their roles to improve their comprehension. Incidentally, there’s a talk on group work at the university next week.

takeaways n. among many items or ideas from a forum that spoke specifically to you
e.g. The takeaways for me this year were a lack of motivation and recognition of skill transferability among students.

Where am I going with this post? Well, I’m not sure. It may be to instigate a little reflection on what we consider is useful vocabulary to discuss with students in class. It may be to reconsider how influential word frequency is for learners above the intermediate level. It may be a discussion on how our vernacular affects students. It may also be a (indirect) commentary on the correlation we tend to value between vocabulary size, intelligence and success. Or it may just be my last post in 5 in 5 days and my brain is fried.

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4 Responses to 5 words I have never taught (and another 5 I didn’t realise I’d learn)

  1. davidmearns says:

    I love it, Tyson, but for ‘Asinine’ and CNN, ‘stupid’ simply is not enough! What about, vapid, banal, insipid, self-serving, false, crass, moronic, irrelevant and down right rubbish? :-D

  2. My ESL students will be entertained!

  3. One always learn so much more than one bargains for, not all things we had desired to learn. That might make an interesting post – unintended lessons from my MA…
    Naomi (@naomishema)

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