An Ode to Carbs

Okay, so I’m not actually going to compose an Ode to Carbs, although if I had the time in some futuristic parallel universe, I might enjoy the challenge. Instead, I want to reflect on a moment today when one of the second grade teachers told her students to study their lunches, and see if they had brought a balanced mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and whatnot (to apply what they had been studying).

Simple carbohydrates break down quickly and spike energy levels, while complex carbs take longer to digest and provide more long-lasting energy. Hmm. As a runner, I was always told to turbo-carb-charge with spaghetti the night before a race, and still remember this when I have an extra long workday ahead of me. Maybe we should narrow our focus: An Ode to Pasta? Just kidding.

But it’s funny, you know? In my classroom, I’m loading my students with language every day. In a way, I’m trying to turbo-carb-charge them with language. What does that mean? Are there “carbohydrate words”? What would they be? Which words–not general categories–actual words, can help you to go the distance in another language? Which words do you find yourself repeating more than twice a day? Five times a day? Ten times a day? I’m referring here to words you use in conversation, with both yourself and other people.

Which words are most important? I mean, they’re all great–and you might argue that some are more precise than others–but which ones are the most useful? Which ones get you from Point A to B fastest? Which ones can you reuse? How does the answer differ if they are written or spoken?

I don’t know about you, but I want the language I teach to stick. So let’s do our students a favor, and focus on long-lasting energy:

High-frequency words. Versatile words. Expressions that can be applied in multiple contexts. Linguistic carbs.

Can you think of
A time when someone
Ran to you and said,
Bring me more energy, please, I am
So absurdly tired”?

It is the fourth quarter: we’ve got to give our students that extra burst of long-lasting energy to finish strong. And carbs, my friends, are the way to go!

A silly post, but perhaps some food for thought…