CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: It's All in a Word!

Social Studies, English Language Arts
2 to 3 lessons
To explore the link between the cod industry and the culture and language of Newfoundland and Labrador
Students will record and present their understandings of the connections between language, the cod fishery, and culture.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Lead a class discussion about what culture means and what it can include. Record key points on the board.

Ask students to discuss and suggest how language and words are part of culture. They might offer examples from their own experiences that are sometimes identified as being typical of their country, community, or school. Some might suggest examples of language or words that can be identified within their own family.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students work in small groups to visit the topic Fished Out: the Rise and Fall of the Cod Fishery on the CBC Digital Archives website. They will explore the clips "A fish tale," "Code and Confederation," "Cataclysm in the fisheries" and "In cod we trust."

As they view, students should find and record definitions to the following words and phrases:

  • tickler chains
  • rock hoppers
  • on the tick
  • fishocracy
  • outports
  • skiffs
  • gadus morhua
  • scrod
  • ovak
  • uugak
  • fish sticks
  • underwater strip mining
  • clear cutting with nets
  • as cold as a cod's nose
  • no cod no cash

As they work in groups, students will review their definitions and make notes about the connections between language and culture. Each group will present its findings in one of the following ways: written paragraph, cartoon, illustration, photo essay, poem, song lyrics.

Revisit and Reflect

Invite groups to share their finished product with the class.

As a class, discuss and summarize the connections between language and culture. Students should be able to identify how language can express the uniqueness of a culture associated with the cod industry.


Students can listen to lyrics written by Newfoundland and Labrador groups such as Great Big Sea, The Punters, The Irish Descendants, Jim Payne, the Ennis Sisters, and Kevin Collins, to identify how the culture of the province is expressed through music. Students can note how the challenges of the fishery are often woven into the words.

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