These enrichment activities focus on design, psychology and communication, looking at sportswear innovation and the use of slang

This week’s primary enrichment activity looks at slang and asks pupils to develop and use their own private language.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity explores the potential psychological effects and competitive advantages of new developments in swimwear.

***Primary Enrichment***

KS 2: Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)
Understanding and using the foreign language

  • how to use and respond to the foreign language
  • how to listen carefully in order to discriminate sounds, identify meaning and develop auditory awareness
  • correct pronunciation and intonation
  • how to ask and answer questions
  • techniques for memorising words, phrases and short extracts
  • how to use context and clues to interpret meaning

Looks like slang

Read Across Jamaica Day on 6 May 2008 highlighted the communication barrier that can sometimes exist between parents/carers and children. One challenge highlighted by the literacy event in Jamaica was the interpretation of colloquialisms and slang. One 10-year-old boy, when asked what was he going to do next, replied “Mi a go burn some work now.” Meaning it was time to do some homework. Other examples of slang reported were: •    ‘little bit’ meaning ‘see you later’ •     ‘yuh see mi’ meaning ‘do you understand me? •     ‘teck weh yuhself’ meaning ‘please go away’ (this can be used as a polite phrase or as a less than polite phrase depending on the enunciation and context) •     ‘mi soon forward’ meaning ‘I will be there soon’ This has led to calls for parents to become more street-smart, to better communicate with their children.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

The point about slang is that it is an exclusive language. All groups have a professional or social language that marks the user as an insider or otherwise. Lawyers, doctors, actors and even presumably astronauts all have a slang language they use. Ask children to produce a language that only the group understands. Restrict the time available to produce the language. It does not need to be written down unless of course the new ‘slanglang’ develops so quickly that dictionaries are needed. Ask children to use the new slang language as much as possible during the following week. They can review how the language developed, what words fell away and what words appeared. Did rules of grammar evolve? Was it a positive experience using a ‘private language’? What was the effect on other people when the private language was used? How would the children explain the reaction of ‘outsiders’?

Talking slang

Going further

Slang is interesting for many reasons. The idea of a visual slang is perhaps even more interesting. How would children communicate without speech, just using visual clues? This could extend to look at sign language, art, or shorthand. Offer children the choice of direction. What would they understand by ‘visual slang’ and how would they realise their ideas?

Read a report of Read Across Jamaica Day

Read more about slang

This animated video by Blu needs to be viewed before showing to students

This Street Art exhibition is at Tate Modern until 25 August 2008

Online guide to British sign language

The basics of Pitman Shorthand

Learning and Teaching Scotland

MFLE teaching strategies: ‘taking ownership of own progress and success, e.g. the use of dictionaries, noting and learning vocabulary, regular self-evaluation, peer evaluation and support, organisational skills (filing, keeping reference notes).’

International Baccalaureate
Primary Years Programme curriculum framework: ‘How we express ourselves.’

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS 3: Art and design

Cultural understanding

  • Engaging with a range of images and artefacts from different contexts, recognising the varied characteristics of different cultures and using them to inform their creating and making.
  • Understanding the role of the artist, craftsperson and designer in a range of cultures, times and contexts.

If the suit fits

The UK-based firm Speedo has developed a new swimming bodysuit called the LZR RACER which has had a dramatic effect. Thirty new world records have been achieved by swimmers wearing the suit, which was designed with help from NASA and is fully compliant with the rules of swimming’s international governing body, FINA. But the LZR RACER is a very controversial piece of sporting equipment. The suit ‘shapes’ muscles, reduces drag and repels water. In some countries the suit has caused problems for swimmers hoping to compete in the Beijing Olympic Games. The objection is that the new suit gives an unbeatable advantage to those who wear it. Some countries have contracts with manufacturers other than Speedo. Others simply cannot afford the price. In Japan, with just a few weeks to go before the start of the games, contracted manufacturers are working hard to produce similar winning suits for the Japanese swimming squad. “This is a once in a lifetime chance for me,” Hanae Ito, a member of the squad, reportedly told the BBC. “I don’t want to be disadvantaged. I want to do my best so I want to wear the best swimsuits there are.” Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • The new swimsuit is controversial. Ask pupils to discuss the nature of improvements in technology being used to enhance sporting achievement.
  • Is it all right for some contestants to have access to superior – and sometimes more expensive – technological support, or should all contestants be made to use the same equipment?
  • Should technological innovation be encouraged if the rules of the sport can accommodate it?

The true ethical questions for discussion are about the management of psychological pressure for those taking part in international competitions.

  • Does the controversy about the new swimming bodysuit itself offer a psychological advantage for its wearers, even before the Olympics have started?
  • Should we accept that psychologically influencing your opponents is simply a part of the game?


Considering the psychological advantages or disadvantages of performance-enhancing swimsuits.

Going further

Ask pupils to choose a sport. They should research the clothing that traditionally is worn to participate in their chosen sport’s events. The task is to design an improved outfit that would give the wearer a psychological advantage over other competitors. The alternative is to design a programme of press releases and news items promoting the idea that the new outfit would be advantageous for its wearers.

Read the full story of the new bodysuit

The bodysuit as reported in the L.A. Times

Learning and Teaching Scotland

 ‘The 5-14 Art and Design curriculum is a series of developmental experiences which involve pupils in investigating materials and media; expressing feelings, ideas and solutions; and understanding, appreciating and sharing in the products of others. The main context for learning is pupils’ involvement in their own world.’

International Baccalaureate
Diploma Programme curriculum. Group 3: individuals and societies.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.

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