How new words are created

This lesson plan for teachers of teenage and adult students at intermediate level and above is based on the theme of new words. Students will learn how new words are created and practice forming them.


This lesson looks at how new words are created in English. It encourages learners to analyse words they already know and to understand more about meaning from form. It also encourages them to experiment with new words and possible meanings - an important skill in manipulating language.


New words


Intermediate and above


60-90 mins


  • To learn how new words are created
  • To practise formation of words
  • To practise pronunciation


Lesson plan:  guide for teacher on procedure including answers to tasks.

Download lesson plan 96k pdf

Worksheets:  exercises which can be printed out for use in class. The worksheet contains:

  • Seven exercises exploring the way new words are formed.

Download worksheets 73k pdf

For more information about this topic you can visit these BBC sites:


Paul Kaye, British Council, Syria

The plans and worksheets are downloadable and in pdf format. If you have difficulty downloading the materials see the download section of the Help page.


Copyright - please read
All the materials on these pages are free for you to download and copy for educational use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place these materials on any other web site without written permission from the BBC and British Council. If you have any questions about the use of these materials please email us at:

Language Level


Submitted by David Cruse on Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:05


In this article you suggest that the English word "mirror" originates from Arabic. My copy of the OED says that it came to English from Latin, via French as the word "mirage". Perhaps it made it to both languages?

You're absolutely right David - the sources I checked pointed to old French rather than Arabic.

Submitted by andelie1987 on Thu, 09/16/2010 - 10:41


Thank you very much for such a great idea! My students enjoyed the lesson very much. However, my lesson didn't involve the last task - creating new words. I'm still wondering if it's a good idea to let them create something that doesn't actually exist (or let's say, something that is not used). Does anyone have the same feelings about the last task?

Research and insight

We have hundreds of case studies, research papers, publications and resource books written by researchers and experts in ELT from around the world. 

See our publications, research and insight

Sign up to our newsletters for teachers and teacher educators

We will process your data to send you our newsletter and updates based on your consent. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of every email. Read our privacy policy for more information.