Connotations and Denotations cont…

Teacher, trainer, tutor, coach, connotations and denotations and why the thesaurus can be both helpful and confusing.  Dictionary definitions help one understand the basic meaning of a read, but reading and gaining insight into how others have chosen to use a word whether in poetry or prose is the key to truly building a vocabulary-What then for the non reader?

I looked up the word “educate” on line, and discovered that in addition to the basic dictionary definition over twenty additional usages popped up.

A few examples:

  • (educate) teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment; “Cultivate your musical taste”; “Train your taste buds”; “She is well schooled in poetry”
  • Education in the largest sense is any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character or physical ability of an individual. ..
  • To instruct or train
    • Facts, skills and ideas that have been learned, either formally or informally

knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.

then I turned to a Thesaurus and found: teacher, trainer, tutor, coach, professor, instructor, leader, and educator…

I know that each of these terms suggests a particular role in society; I know too, that often the roles overlap and blur.  However when a student encounters a term (not necessarily the sample words above) in a surprising context, it becomes necessary to ask WHY the author may have chosen to use the word.  What is the purpose within the connotation? Strong Readers become aware of the various meanings words may have and can transfer information from one situation to another, picking up on the nuance and subtle meanings.  For the non- reader though, each new position that a word can be found in, may become problematic.  When teaching fluency and reading comprehension the first key is to move beyond the word and attempt to find a “big picture” meaning in a paragraph or passage. The second key is to note how writers generally explain their ideas in more than one fashion within a section.  I also encourage reader response journals.  For in the writing and quoting from a passage, students are also committing to memory a new idea. 


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