Teaching Circumlocution to Students

It is often challenging for students to say or write something when they do not know the correct word (or can’t remember the word) that they want to use.  During a conversation or speaking activity, students sometimes struggle to find the right word.  When this happens, it’s usually not practical or possible to use a dictionary.  For this reason it is important to explicitly teach the skill of using circumlocution.

Teaching Foreign (World) Language Circumlocution. (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comCircumlocution is a strategy for describing or defining a concept instead of saying or writing the specific words.  Students should be taught how to do this and the teacher can give them tools to help in the process.

Here are some suggestions to teach students the art of circumlocution explicitly:

  • Use vocabulary that you already know.
  • Try to think of another way to convey the message.
  • Use a synonym.
  • Use a more general category word (fruit, clothing, etc.)
  • Explain what and object is not.
  • Point and use gestures, actions, and sounds.

Here are two documents that give examples of how to use circumlocution as well as some activities to practice the strategies.

This is what my Circumlocution wall looks like with the English translation below.

11 responses to “Teaching Circumlocution to Students

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  10. wagacarmen@gmail.com

    Hola! Me encanta la idea de utilizarlo. Gracias por tu explicación sobre Circumlocution. Me pregunto cual es la palabra en español?
    Hasta luego, Carmen Waga

    • jos76

      He visto “circunloquio” — Figura retórica que consiste en expresar mediante un rodeo lo que puede decirse de forma más breve.

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