Conversational Words or “Teacher Words?”

Tips to Teach Their Language

What Language Are You Speaking?

Have you ever traveled to a foreign country? I mean a foreign country where people don’t speak English? Have you tried to communicate and you have had no clue what a person was saying, or couldn’t get someone to understand what you want? What do you revert to? Sign Language!


It can be very frustrating. Here is a little sentence for you to read and see how long it takes you to figure out what it is saying.

“So vast the expanse of the divine magnanimity for we who tread this mortal coil, that He abnegated His sole scion to the end that proselytes therein would be spared the lot of all flesh, to endure in perpetuity.”

Did you get that? Did they use conversational words? You might have to read it a couple of times. Why is it so hard to read? Is it because what it is saying is so complicated? That can’t be it, because at first you don’t even know what it’s saying. You don’t know whether it’s complicated or not. I think this paragraph is hard for a couple of reasons. When we use conversational words, these are generally not the words we would choose. First of all, we may not know the definitions for many of the words. And secondly, the construction of the sentence is a bit complicated. It isn’t laid out simply. (Keep reading for the answer to what this sentence says.)

If you want to understand this, you might look up each of the words individually to see what they mean. When you know what each of the words mean individually, then you can put them together and maybe even rearrange them to make sense of the paragraph.

Use Conversational Words- Big Words or Not?

Do you use conversational words with students- or others in your life for that matter? There are many that teach by using only big words that are not in the students vocabulary. Are they trying to make an impression on students and parents? Or perhaps they just don’t realize what words are in the student’s vocabulary. One can be very familiar with certain words so it doesn’t occur to him that they might be foreign to the students. This happens often with Christian “lingo.” You can see from the example above how well that all goes.

Then there are some that use conversational words when they teach, but no big words, because they don’t believe kids can handle them. Those kids then lose the richness of learning language. Actually, I think that kids love to learn what big words mean so they can feel more intelligent and they feel challenged. There are many advantages of a large vocabulary. However, they will be lost if they aren’t led correctly through that learning process.

Kids Can Learn Concepts!

Because kids don’t have the vocabulary that adults have- or at least not the same vocabulary, does that mean they can’t understand the concepts? No, not at all. The concept can be much easier to learn than the vocabulary! If the concept is broken down into building blocks, it can be easy to learn and then the vocabulary can follow.

Teach Concept First (Free sample below)

I don’t think we should shy away from big words, but rather we should first teach the message simply, we use conversational words. When we are sure they have learned and understand the message, we teach them the harder word, making the connection between the concept and the word. Saying the word once will not cause him to remember it but then coming back and repeating it multiple times as you repeat the concept multiple times will cause the student to learn it. What can you do?

  • Have the student repeat it. Break down the syllables.
  • Draw pictures of what the word means.
  • Draw pictures of each syllable that can be tied into what the word means.
  • Give little prizes to whoever remembers the word at the end of class or next week. Be sure they can tell you what it means.
  • Be sure they know what it means. Ask them!
  • Here’s one for you! Look up the word “propitiation” or “propitiate.” (It’s always good for the teacher to try to stay ahead of the student! :)

Hmmmm. I am at the end of this blog. By the way, if you are not able to read the above paragraph or figure out what it was saying, look up John 3:16 in your Bible.

I am giving away a good example of how to use conversational words to teach deep concepts for FREE. You can click here for a free download of a workbook called Who’s In Charge? If you haven’t received it, but sure to download your copy here. You can make copies for your kids and students (be sure all pages are intact if you copy this- including all copyright info). This is the first session of my most popular book, God… Should I Be Baptized?

This blog about how to use conversational words is one of my favorites. If you liked this blog, pass it on! Share on Facebook, Twitter or by Email. (even if only for the free workbook!)

Thanks and meet you next week!

Communicating with your Kids-

2 wrong ways to communicate

Teaching Tips in Communicating with your kids

​I am back to blogging about teaching (kids or anybody for that matter). Actually it will be a good series that can be applied to general communication, so even if you don’t teach kids, stick with me on this. It may even improve your marriage!

Are we making a connection with our kids? Are we teaching so they understand? Or are we just teaching and HOPE they understand? I think there is a big difference! You need to be communicating with your kids.

Over the years, I have taught in the community college, as well as kids both in the classroom and one-on-one. I love to teach about things that matter. (Not that I don’t enjoy arts and crafts, but I am most fulfilled when I am imparting something to a child that has value, especially eternal value.) My teaching has been a variety of age levels. The communication style and level has to be adjusted according to who you are talking to.

2 Wrong Ways of Communicating with your Kids

There are many approaches to teaching. Some teachers figure that kids don’t have the comprehension of adults, so they don’t give them much to comprehend. They leave out the hard stuff. Some teachers think that all facts are equal, and teach them in the same way that one would teach college student.

I don’t think either of these teaching styles are right. I believe kids can understand many deep concepts if they are taught in a way that will help them understand. I also believe that you can lose them in the dust, galloping down the road of education. I’m going to spend some time in this blog series talking about techniques to help kids understand harder concepts. I will be talking about how not to lose kids when you teach them the full scope of a message. Are we willing to teach Truth or do we skip parts because we don’t think they will understand? I hope this will be valuable for communicating with people of all ages, because aren’t we all like kids in some ways?

So tune in next blog for the first in this series: What Language are You Speaking?

In the meantime, I want to share with you one of the pictures from my newest picture book, “To The Rescue.” This book does not shirk the hard concept of rescue through the Bible yet it makes it enjoyable and understandable. Communicating with your kids in a way that fills them with truth and yet taught in such a way that they understand it is my goal.

The Problem with Assumptions

in the classroom!

Have you ever had a conversation, and you thought you knew what they were talking about, but it turns out they were talking about something completely different. Things that they said seemed very strange. These false assumptions happen every once in a while in our household.

Rollercoaser Ride (against blue sky)

Rollercoaser Ride (against blue sky)

Sometimes these conversations can be quite funny. Here is an example. (I made this up.)

False Assumptions

Joe is recapping his previous day to his friend, Pete. He tells him that he went to the dentist to get a filling, first thing in the morning. Then he told him that went to Magic Mountain, the roller coaster theme park, later in the day. As he thought about the day’s events, he was most excited about the roller coaster. So that is what he began to talk about. Well, his friend thought he was describing his day chronologically. As he described the theme park, Joe’s friend was picturing that he was describing getting a filling at the dentist office. False assumptions! The conversation went like this:

Joe: Wow! I couldn’t believe how crowded it was. I think everybody in the county was there. The lines were so long it took about an hour to get in. It was sure a popular place to be! I can’t remember waiting so long to pay for anything. Well, we finally got in and we were on our way. We headed straight to my favorite part. I got strapped in my seat and click the seatbelt. I was ready for a wild ride. It started to go really fast. I couldn’t believe it when my seat went upside down and I was hanging from the seatbelt. I screamed out loud, “this is so fun, this is so fun.”

Pete: Wow! That’s never happened to me before. Are you sure you didn’t fall asleep and were dreaming?

Joe: Fall asleep! Of course not. It was way too exciting for that. I sure can’t wait until I go again. I think it was one of my favorite moments so far this year.

Pete: Well, I’d better get your dentist’ s number. I’m ready for an adventure. My trips to the dentist are much more boring.

Joe: Dentist? I wasn’t talking about the dentist. I was talking about the roller coaster at Magic Mountain!

This seems pretty extreme. But I have had conversations that seems crazy because I thought the person I was talking about something completely different. This can also happen easily when you’re teaching.

False Assumptions in Teaching

Have you ever been talking to a child and their mind is somewhere else? (of course, I know the answer to that) You might be telling them the story of Joshua and how he blew the trumpet and the walls came tumbling down. The child hears the word trumpet and immediately thinks of his older brother who plays in the high school band. He now is thinking of him practicing, and wonders if the walls of his house are going to fall any time soon. You will lose the important point of the story, that God fought the battle for him when he trusted Him, if you don’t get him back from thinking about his brother. (I know this is extreme, but if you have spent any time in the classroom of young children, you have probably seen similar situations.

What can you do to avoid this? A simple way is to ask them to repeat back what they understand. You can ask a student questions about things in the story or their thoughts, or you can ask them to put what you just said into their own words.

As you are teaching, it’s important to keep monitoring that they are tracking with what you are saying. When you are teaching in a group, asking questions is time well spent because it also serves as review for everyone. It propels discussion in the classroom which keeps the class more interesting.

Do you have a funny story that you could share with us? We’d love to hear about a time when you were misunderstood or did not understand someone else because you thought they were talking about something different. We’d love to hear about a time when an assumption caused a crazy result. :)

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Building Blocks in Teaching

Building Blocks Are Critical!

Building blocks necessaaryl! When I was in my early 20’s, I enrolled for a college calculus class. The class had a reputation for being a very difficult class with a horrible professor, but it was the best time for my schedule, so I enrolled. I knew others that had taken calculus and had done fine. I really thought I would do okay. It was a matter of only a few weeks into it, that I realized I wasn’t passing the class. I did something I’d never done before, I dropped the class.

math problem- building blocks

I learned a good lesson at an early age. I believe I could have taken the class and done okay, but there was one important ingredient missing. When I had taken pre-calculus, I’d missed the classes on sine and cosine, (mathematics principles) due to illness. I tried to catch up and thought I understood it, but I didn’t understand it solidly. I think the professor knew that I needed a solid foundation or I wouldn’t succeed in calculus. He did me a favor by weeding me out early rather than late in the class.

I think that was the first time that I really realized the importance of foundational learning. Since then, I’ve come to believe there’s very little that you can’t understand if you clearly understand the building blocks that lead up to it. Here is an example:

Look at this sentence. Sally  +  the race.

Can you decipher what this means? Probably not, unless I tell you what the symbol   +   means. We get an idea that there’s a girl named Sally and that she does something in the race, but unless you know what + means, you have no idea what she’s doing. You might guess that she wins the race or maybe loses the race, but you don’t know for sure.

So when I look more closely at Sally, and see tear falling down her cheek, I don’t understand if it is a tear of sadness because she lost the race or joy because she won the race. If I knew what  +  means, I could maybe understand why she was crying.

So now let me tell you what   +  means. It means “quit.” Now that you know that, you can understand why Sally might be crying. Actually, Sally twisted her ankle and had to quit the race. Her tears were from frustration from having to quit the race she wanted so badly to run.

This is just a rough example of how important it is to understand all of the building blocks before we can clearly understand the concept.

I believe that most finite things can be understood if they are broken down in such a way that the foundational concepts are understood. It is our job as educators to break down hard concepts and be sure that the foundational concepts have been learned. Let me give an example.  In chapter 2 of God, Should I Be Baptized?, we discuss why we should put our trust in Christ for salvation. If we don’t have the foundation from chapter 1, which describes the character of God as good, faithful and loving, (among other qualities) we won’t have the basis for trusting God. (why would you trust the God that is not good?) So it is important to review the foundational facts to be sure they are understood before we teach a subject.

Looking back in my life, I really didn’t need that calculus class. As it turns out, the lesson I learned about foundational teaching was far more important. Can you think of a time when you found it necessary to review building blocks or had trouble learning something new because you didn’t have the foundation? Will you share your comment below with us?