Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Speak No Evil

Patricia Harris
Gadsden County Schools


What's up? Oh, yes, that's just the expression. If your students have no idea of what to say, this lesson will offer a fun way to explore all the possibilities in a world of communication!


The student varies language according to situation, audience, and purpose (for example, uses appropriate content, examples, vocabulary).


-Class set of newspapers
-Variety of magazines
-Sentence strips for displaying terminology and phrases
-Index cards (additional cards for students who may not have any)
-Tape recorder
-Activity sheets for each child for all activities in the lesson
-Chalkboard and chalk


1. Prepare a list of words/phrases for each informal language category. (see procedures) Put these on sentence strips/and or the board.
2. Familiarize yourself with the distinction among the terms.
3. Prepare a list of activities to help students distinguish between formal and informal language and be able to vary their language accordingly.
4. Design a list of situations for brainstorming. (see procedures)
5. Stock up on newspapers in order to have enough for the entire class/classes to use. (The newspapers may be distributed by sections instead of the entire paper per student.)
6. Prepare a list of supplies students will need for the -Who Said What When? activity. (entire class)
7. Arrange with the media specialist/librarian for use of several tape recorders.
8. Prepare sentence strips with your vocabulary terms/and or phrases you will incorporate in the lesson.
9. Have clippings from newspapers already pasted on index cards for students. (per student or per two students)


1. Introduce the terms formal and informal to students by using various activities to get students to understand the terminology. For example: What would you wear to a wedding, tennis shoes or dress shoes? (be careful of the various ethnic groups in your class; you may need to do a little research before attempting the dress issue because of the culture of your students) What would you wear to a basketball game, an evening gown or a pair of blue jeans? Who do you think would be present at a wedding? (audience) Give some examples of the words you would use in a letter to your best friend. (appropriateness of language)

2. Group students and allow them to brainstorm the language they use in the following situations.
On the playground at recess
At church
On the telephone with an adult
On the telephone with a friend
Talking to the President of the United States

3. Allow students to share in groups what was said and the reasons for the language used.

4. Circulate to ensure that everyone is on track, to offer suggestions when necessary and to praise.

5. Introduce the terms slang, jargon, and colloquialism, which are usually found in informal language.
Slang-consisting of new words, or old words used in new ways that seem clever and colorful and that shows that the user is up-to-date. (for example: cool, weirdo, cop out, bummer)
Jargon- consisting of words and phrases used in a particular sport or field of study or by members of a particular profession or occupation. ( for example: pan: to the general public is a cooking utensil; to the movie industry, pan means to move a camera across a wide angle, and so becomes jargon; additional examples are: lead (as a noun): card players- the act of playing first; electricians- a wire that carries current; journalists- the opening paragraph of a news story; printers- the space between lines of type)
Colloquialism- words and phrases usually found only in informal speech and writing; typically phrases or sentences. For example: fly off the handle, foot the bill, had been framed

6. Provide students with a list of terms and have them practice identifying them as jargon, slang, or colloquial.Examples: Bummer, cool, cop out, hassle, hang-up, vibes, weirdo, limb, buzz, loop, mole, snake, noise

7. Discuss their solutions and rationale. Clarify where needed.

8. Provide individual or group clippings pasted on index cards from the media for students to read and identify the audience, the purpose, and/or the appropriateness of the language used. Using the local newspaper from your city would be more productive; even the school's newspaper, if your school has one. (A little flexibility goes a long way.)

9. Let students share their responses with the class on a voluntary basis.

10. Have students bring from home clippings from magazines or newspapers pasted on index cards to read aloud to the class for identification or if a recorded piece of media, to play aloud as a show and tell activity called Who Said What When? (see in associated file)


Students will vary their language to simulate real life scenarios selected by the teacher from television, radio, textbooks, and home and school environment and distinguish the appropriateness to audience, purpose, and situation. Students will write for a specific audience, purpose, and situation, as assigned by the teacher, using appropriate vocabulary for each specific audience or given purpose.
Students will orally exhibit appropriate language in a given situation, audience, or purpose.
Students will vary their language using an array of formal and informal languages, learned in the lesson.
The teacher will formatively assess students' success through their role play demonstrations of skills learned. (see Role Play Scenarios and evaluative tool and rubic in the associated file). Teacher will use the following evaluation tool:
Vocabulary Appropriateness:
__to situation ___ to audience ___ to purpose
commendable: all three elements are aligned
satisfactory: two of the three elements are aligned
need improvement: zero - one of the three elements are aligned
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