PRACTICE (October 18, 2003)

[GAME] "Explaining Words" (Yoshida)

It is beneficial for learners of English to be good at explaining words in English.
For example, when you can not remember (nor know) a certain word, you have to describe the idea of it in other words at hand.
And I am convinced that it also makes you aware of the importance of using essential English words effectively.

Therefore, in today's practice, we shall play a game*1 aimed at this skill.
The name of the game is, let's say, English-English Dictionary Game or Pretending a Lexicographer*2 Game.
It is easy to play, but it can be quite interesting as well.



1.Break into small groups (up to four or five people each).
2.Take up one English word and announce it. To make the game more stimulating, those words should be familiar to everyone but hard to explain. If you have no idea, please consider following words:
live, die, kill, refrigerator, television, hat, shirts, hair, lip, panda, meat, time, weather, king
3.For a few minutes or so, try hard to explain the very idea of the word in your own words.
You are encouraged to write down your creation on paper. If you have difficulty, please consult examples below.
4.Present your work to your group. (one person at a time)
5.Look up the word in your learner's Eglish-English dictionary and compare its definition and your work.
6.Talk about your work. Whose is the nearest or the best or interesting? What makes them good or not? etc.
7.Go to 2. (repeat until time is up)


live : To breath, to eat, to sleep, etc; What we do between birth and death to exist on the earth.
happy : Someone who is happy has feelings of pleasure, usually because something nice has happened or because they feel satisfied with their life.[COBUILD]

Some Possible Twists for Experts

Try more abstract words which imply certain valuations:

freedom, justice, fairness, human rights, etc.

Try fundamental but theoretically-hard-to-define words:
left/right, number, infinity, time, intelligence, etc.

Try those words related to philosophy:
the world, existence, subjectivity/objectivity, certainties, etc.

This game was originally introduced by ピーター・フランクル in his book, 「日本人のための英語術」 (岩波新書761),2003.
A lexicographer's job is to describe the language. [COBUILD]