Activity Introduction

In this lesson, students will consider how language is used in advertising to frame products in a positive light.


The lesson begins with a brief introduction to the concepts of synonyms and connotations, illustrating how deliberate language choice helps advertisers refine and craft their meaning. Through a class discussion, students will develop an understanding of ‘weasel words’, which are words that companies can use to create a specific impression of their products. Working in pairs, students will find a print advertisement that uses weasel words, and, with the help of a set of prompts, perform an analysis of how those weasel words influence our interpretations. The lesson concludes with the opportunity for students to reflect on their changed understanding of weasel words.

We’ve taken elements of this lesson and adapted them for remote learning. You can find this activity here.


Learning Intentions

  • Students understand how word choices can create meaning in an advertisement.

Lesson & Curriculum Details

  • Topic: Consumption.
  • This lesson is part of the wider unit of work SugarByHalf – English – Years 9-10.
  • Time required: 60 mins.
  • Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – guide class discussions. 
  • Keywords: SugarByHalf, weasel words, advertising, persuasion, persuasive writing, synonyms, sugar, marketing.

To view our Australian Curriculum alignment click here.

To view our NZ Curriculum alignment click here.

Resources Required

  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student
  • Article: ‘Healthwashing – 6 weasel words food companies use to fool you’ – printed, one copy per student
  • Device capable of presenting a webpage to the class
  • Class set of magazines – ideally magazines targeted to a female audience issued on a weekly basis, or even those that feature advertising of food products (optional).

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian and New Zealand Curriculums.


Teacher Worksheet


Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will... 

  • ... understand how word choices can create meaning in an advertisement.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... describe how meaning is created through word choices
  • ... identify weasel words and explain the meaning they create.

Teacher content information: SugarByHalf ( promotes action to reduce sugar-related diseases so that we can live better, stronger and healthier lives.

Their message is simple: to reduce added sugar consumption by half. Eating too much added sugar is a key driver of serious health problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, dementia and mental health conditions. A poor diet also puts children behind their peers, affecting brain development, sleep and ability to learn. Poor diet choices ultimately mean that this generation of children could be the first in modern history to live shorter lives than their parents.

Much of the added

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: Why should food and drink companies be honest about what’s in their products?

1. Complete a Think-Pair-Share visible thinking routine to respond to the question:

  • Do all synonyms actually mean the same thing?


THINK individually about your response PAIR up and discuss your responses. SHARE to expand the discussion.

2. After reading 'Health Washing - 5 weasel words food companies use to fool you', summarise your understanding of the blog post by completing the Connect-Extend-Challenge visible thinking routine:

CONNECT: How are the ideas and information presented CONNECTED to what you already knew? EXTEND: What new ideas did you get that EXTENDED or pushed your thinking in new directions? CHALLENGE: What is still CHALLENGING for you to get your mind around? 

3. After finding an advertisement that uses weasel words, analyse it using the prompts below to guide your thinking:

What are the weasel words used i

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