Teaching Emotive Language

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

Emotive language is making word choices for the purpose of eliciting emotion from the audience or reader. The lesson plan will help teachers explain emotive language to students.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Define emotive language.
  • Differentiate between denotation and connotation.
  • Identify and use emotive language.


This lesson will take 60-120 minutes.


  • computer/internet/printer
  • construction paper
  • magazines
  • tape/glue

Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).


Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.


Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


  • connotation
  • denotation
  • emotive language
  • referential language

Lesson Instructions

To activate prior knowledge, display the following sentences:

'Jaimie is afraid of spiders.'

'Jaimie froze in place as she summoned up the courage to face the fearsome eight-legged creature.'

Ask students to read the sentences and explain the difference between their meaning. Explain that the following lesson is related to word choice when speaking and writing.

Watch the video lesson Emotive Language: Definition, Effects & Examples with students. Pause at 1:21 to ask:

  • What is emotive language?
  • Provide some examples of emotive language and referential language.
  • What is the difference between denotation and connotation?
  • When would you use emotive language?

Continue watching the video with students. Pause at 2:42 to ask:

  • What are some emotive words that could be used in place of the words 'thinking about' in the sentence 'Zachary is thinking about declaring a major.'?
  • How does using emotive language change the audience reaction?
  • What are some specific reasons a speaker or writer would employ emotive language?

Watch the remainder of the video with students. Ask:

  • What are some examples of emotive language you have heard politicians use?
  • How might emotive language be used in advertising?

Turn and talk:

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