Now that it’s nearing the end of the year, I can confidently proclaim that my brain has a foison of new words to draw upon when I’m making conversation with society’s elite.
I require my students to learn two new words a day, and we take cumulative quizzes throughout the year, so it seems only fair that I learn two a week. Not to sound like a blimp, but I already have a pretty broad vocabulary. I read a lot, and when I see a word I’m not familiar with, I don’t just skim through – I absolutely must look it up. Thus finding unknown words would also be part of the challenge.
My strategy this year was to simply use the app “Wordsmith” which shows several new words a day. I would add specific words to my favorites list, and then quiz myself on those words. Anytime that I had some bored downtime, I would quiz myself on the app (like waiting for a friend at a restaurant, or sitting in the airport terminal). My personal deal was that I could only check my Facebook if I had quizzed myself on vocab first.
Unfortunately, when I attempted to slip these words into conversation, no one understood what I meant, or I sounded like a total tool. Imagine having a water cooler conversation with colleague about television and they remark about the nimiety of reality tv; they would sound like a douche, right? Especially since my normal colloquialisms are uber west coast; the words dude, chick, like, totes, for real, and gnarly are mainstays of my speech. How does one meld the modern-day pop speech of today with the fancy verbage of yesteryear?
“OMG, that clochard is totes jocose!”
Luckily, I was able to showcase a lot of the words to my students and then slip them into our class discussions, and for them it was almost a game – like who can say it first? The other day we were making bird feeders, and a girl goes, “We really made an omnium-gatherum of feeders,” wherein she locked eyes with me to make sure she said it right, at which I gave an approving nod.
And now that I’ve developed the habit of practicing new words on a regular basis, you best be prepared for more of my ridiculous valley-girl meets Jane Eyre vernacular.