The “Taste the Word” Option

This passage is from the new Square™ book:

After having told the class what the four new words mean, you then have an option to drive the words deeper into the neurological system of the brain. You do that by asking them to “taste” the word. What does this mean?

It means to generate greater interest in the words by saying them in exaggerated ways: loudly, softly, whispering, in a kind of gruff and barking way, or in other histrionic ways. Just play around with the words via chanting or in other ways, paying attention to the smallest parts of the words (the phonemes) and saying them in exaggerated ways. This jams the students’ conscious minds and puts the sounds more in their bodies, where all words truly live, well out of the students’ conscious awareness.

When you choose to explore the sound of the language in this way with your students, if you haven’t done it before, it may seem to be a rather odd activity. For those teachers who feel that way, this activity may not be for them. But I have always advocated, when given the choice, that we “fly our freak flags” in class. We can’t expect our students to have fun playing with the sounds of the language unless we show them how to do it ourselves.

Another reason that this instructional option works for me – again, I am just offering an option here – is that there is something that happens when you “taste” the word in these ways that activates some kind of neurological response in people in much the same way that yawning does.

At first, the students are a bit out of their comfort zones, having probably never done anything like this in any of their other school classes except perhaps in drama classes, but soon most of them begin to mirror your silliness.

Of course, it’s not silly at all. It gives the kids extra repetitions on the word and, more importantly for them, represents the beginning of speech. Tasting the word in this way is similar to when we see babies gurgling and making bubbling sounds when they begin their own journeys into speech.

If you sense that a word has a kind of musical potential in this “tasting” activity, go for it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

When I was first starting to do this tasting thing after taking my job far too seriously for far too many years, worrying about test scores and what people thought of my teaching and all that, I was startled to see that most of my students actually “went with me” into the zany pronunciations of the new words.



Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben