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Anagrams & TEFL

An anagram of Anagram.

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What are Anagrams?

Anagrams are simply rearrangements of letters from one word‏‎ or phrase to make another word or phrase.

The word itself comes from the Greek, anagrammatismos, ana- (up, again, back, new) + -gram (letter).

For example, the following are a few interesting anagrams.

dormitory dirty room
Clint Eastwood old west action
Madam Curie radium came
a telephone girl repeating “Hello”
the eyes they see
waitress a stew, Sir?
desperation a rope ends it
conversation voices rant on
mother-in-law woman Hitler
sycophant acts phony
a gentleman elegant man
debit card bad credit

Anagrams and TEFL Teachers

Anagrams are fun to use in class just to let your students play with letters and words.

However, for learners of English, anagrams are generally quite difficult to create themselves. To begin with, you can make things easier by giving one-word anagrams – of an appropriate level – and asking your class to find them. Possibly with clues.

In some cases you can just write them on the board and let the class (in groups) work on them with pen and paper, otherwise, if you can, have them use Scrabble tiles.

For example, with a beginner class you could give these words and ask students to rearrange the letters to find new words.

  • dog
  • read
  • care
  • form

And so on. With slightly more advanced classes you can make the anagrams longer.

  • stripe (there are actually 5 other words possible from this)
  • unite
  • three
  • settler

Quick Anagram Activity

Here’s a quick anagram activity you might want to try in class.

Simply get a short text and for each word, jumble the letters up. (We’re not creating anagrams as such, but it’s close enough!) You will end up with something like this:

Ni airyfalest, twiches saylaw rawe llysi labck tash nda ackbl stoac, nad yeth ried no roombrickss. Tub sith si tno a lairyfaest. Isht si utabo lare chestiw.

Simply put the class into groups and have them work out the text, word by word!

PS, if you are wondering, this is the opening paragraph of a famous book. If you can work out which one, leave a comment below and you will win our admiration!

Imperfect Anagrams

An imperfect anagram is an anagram which doesn’t use all the letters of the original and is perhaps slightly more useful for the TEFL teacher. For example, give your class the word English and ask them to find as many words in that as possible:

ENGLISH

hen
hens
lens
line
sing
sling

There are many more words you can make from ENGLISH so it’s easy to get a mini competition going in class to see which group can find the most words.

This is easy to make into as a five minute filler activity at the end of a lesson, particularly if you use a juicy word you’ve encountered during the lesson! Let’s suppose you’ve been doing a text with your class and come across the word elucidate which you’ve explained and worked on with your class but which they perhaps find a little difficult to remember. Now, five minutes before the lesson ends you write the word up on the board and ask your students to see who can find the most words “hidden” inside it. This will surely help them remember the word!

English Teacher Anagrams

Finally, a list of anagrams for the phrase, English teacher:

highest cleaner
sheltering ache
healing retches
a gentle cherish
cereal then sigh
encase her light
the lies changer
charge then lies
his gentler ache

Useful Links

The best anagram maker online is the Internet Anagram Server. The anagrams on this page were taken primarily from this site.

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