Easy ESL Games Adult Resource #008 – Erin McKean- Go ahead, make up new words!-TED

Ted Talks are a great lesson idea for adult learners. ESL lessons aren’t always about games but they should always be interesting.

In this fun, short talk from TED Youth, lexicographer Erin McKean encourages — nay, cheerleads — her audience to create new words when the existing ones won’t quite do. She lists out 6 ways to make new words in English, from compounding to “verbing,” in order to make language better at expressing what we mean, and to create more ways for us to understand one another.



  1. I teach TED.com lessons by asking topic related advanced level  introductory questions to get the conversation started. E.x. "How does language evolve?"  "Can you name any new words that weren't around in the year 2000?" etc.
  2. After that, I play the the talk once and ask the  students to listen and tell me what they heard.  
  3. Then, I let them watch the TED talk and ask them to tell me any addition information they gathered.
  4. Next, I hand out the fill-in-the-blanks .pdf file and ask the class to follow along with the talk.
  5. Then, the entire class takes turns reading the TED talk PDF (provided below) and we discuss any English vocabulary or comprehension issues.
  6. Finally, the class breaks into pairs and works on the questions provided in the PDF (provided below).  It’s important to switch partners frequently.