Sketch: On Word Play in Support of Academic Development

  • Daphne LoadsEmail author


In this sketch, I show how as an academic developer I encourage university lecturers to play with language. Together we read poems, policy statements, academic papers and song lyrics, paying attention to puns, ambiguities, allusions and contradictions. We read both literary and non-literary texts slowly and carefully, exploring words, sharing understandings, discovering new meanings and making connections with teaching practice and teacher identity. Wordplay enables us to go beyond “semantic waves” of contextualised and abstract, condensed and simple communications (Maton in Linguist Educ 24: 8–22, 2013) and to develop what I call “semantic levity”: the capacity to move playfully between different contexts and meanings.


Academic development Literature Playful reading 


  1. Keats, J. (1988). Complete Poems (3rd ed.). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. Maton, K. (2013). Making Semantic Waves: A Key to Cumulative Knowledge-Building. Linguistics and Education, 24(1), 8–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Academic DevelopmentUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland, UK

Personalised recommendations