Diction Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Word choice is a major part of communication. This lesson focuses on classroom diction activities and games teachers can use with students of varying ages and abilities.

Simple Diction

Diction is perhaps one of the easier English concepts you'll ever have to explain to your students. To introduce this lesson, write this question on the blackboard:

  • What is diction?

Give students some time to think and respond. Hopefully one of them will have an answer, but if not, help them out by adding this answer under the question on the board.

  • Diction is word choice.

You can expand on this definition by explaining that diction involves choosing which words to write or speak. For example, a children's book author will use simple diction by choosing words that young readers will understand. On the other hand, a science researcher giving a speech to other scientists will use more advanced diction because the intended audience is likely to understand technical terminology.

While diction can include other elements besides just word choice, this lesson is focused on how word choice affects communication and meaning.

Watch Your Diction

Each student will need access to a paper dictionary for this activity.

  1. Using a dictionary, ask students to find five words they have never used before.
  2. Students should write down the words and their definitions.
  3. Have students prepare a short speech on any topic. The only requirements are that they must use all five of the new words in their speeches and the speech cannot be about defining the new words. For instance, saying, ''Deteriorate means to fall apart,'' would be unacceptable whereas, ''My bike is deteriorating so I asked my mom for a new one,'' would be acceptable.
  4. Give each student about one minute to deliver his or her speech to the class.

After every student has delivered a speech, have them turn in both their list of new words and the text of the speeches for assessment and review. You may also want to highlight any improper diction and suggest more appropriate alternatives.

Diction Exchange

Write the following topics on the blackboard to prepare for this activity:

  • My favorite movie
  • Why I like pets
  • How to make friends
  • Hobbies I enjoy
  • My favorite food
  1. Organize students into pairs and have each pair choose one of the topics you wrote on the board.
  2. Each student in the pair should write one paragraph about their chosen topic.
  3. The paired students should exchange papers. Now, each student must alter the diction of his or her partner's paragraph by changing at least ten words.
  4. Have the students return the altered paragraphs to their partners.
  5. The partners should then discuss the diction changes that were made, how the changes affected the meaning of the paragraph, and whether or not the diction changes made the paragraph better or worse.

To conclude the activity, ask students who liked his or her partner's diction changes to share those changes with the class and explain how, in his or her opinion, the paragraph was improved.

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