Teaching Thanksgiving, Academic Vocabulary Style - Velàzquez Press | Biliteracy

Teaching Thanksgiving, Academic Vocabulary Style

This Thanksgiving, are you "happy" to be in the company of your family and friends - or "chuffed?" Did the kisses of your Aunt Gertrude leave you not merely "wet," but "bedraggled?" Here are ideas for teaching your English Learners about Thanksgiving, while encouraging them to use academic vocabulary in a fun and memorable way.


One of teachers’ greatest difficulties is helping their English Learners advance from social language to the academic vocabulary that they need for school. Social language, otherwise known as “playground English,” is more readily picked up by English Learners, while academic language is much harder to acquire, but absolutely essential for understanding classroom content. We often see how students born and raised in the U.S. can speak English fluently, but still fail in school because they never picked up academic language.


Since we all know that one of the best ways to learn new words is by actively using them in our speech, we’ve compiled a list of ways to talk about your favorite Thanksgiving activities, academic vocabulary style. Encourage your students to practice using these words with their friends and family at the Thanksgiving dinner table. They’ll no doubt get a laugh out of it, but using the academic vocabulary in their conversations will help them remember the meaning of the words.


We have grouped the vocabulary words by Thanksgiving activity. Feel free to include your own ideas in the comments! And don’t forget to keep voting for our Academic Word of the Year campaign, which ends December 12, 2011.



Happy Thanksgiving!




Social language: I’ve had three slices of pie already, so no thanks.

Academic language: I’ve had three slices of pie already, so I have to regretfully decline.


Social language: I’m so full. I need help moving from this chair.

Academic language: I’m so full. I need assistance moving from this chair.




Social language: Let’s watch football!

Academic language: Let’s observe men running around a field, throwing and catching a pigskin!


Social language: I guess that (insert favorite football team) will win today.

Academic language: I deduce that (insert favorite football team) will win today.


(After your favorite football team has won)

Social language: I was right in my guess; my team won!

Academic language: I was accurate in my prediction; my team won!





Social language: I love shopping on Black Friday because of the sales.

Academic language: I love participating in commerce because of the reduced prices.

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