Activity Introduction

Quick summary: 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 word 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.

Learning intentions:

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

21st century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingEthical UnderstandingSocial SkillsTeam Work





Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English

  • Analyse how the construction and interpretation of texts, including media texts, can be influenced by cultural perspectives and other texts (ACELY1739)
  • Interpret, analyse and evaluate how different perspectives of issue, event, situation, individuals or groups are constructed to serve specific purposes in texts (ACELY1742)
  • Apply an expanding vocabulary to read increasingly complex texts with fluency and comprehension (ACELY1743)

Year 10 English

  • Analyse and evaluate how people, cultures, places, events, objects and concepts are represented in texts, including media texts, through language, structural and/or visual choices (ACELY1749)
  • Identify and analyse implicit or explicit values, beliefs and assumptions in texts and how these are influenced by purposes and likely audiences (ACELY1752)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-8D, EN5-2A

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and Creative Thinking

Relevant parts of Year 9 achievement standards: Students analyse the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect. They evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They select evidence from texts to analyse and explain how language choices and conventions are used to influence an audience. Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts.

Relevant parts of Year 10 achievement standards: Students develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. Students develop and justify their own interpretations of texts. They evaluate other interpretations, analysing the evidence used to support them. Students show how the selection of language features can achieve precision and stylistic effect.

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. 

Resources required:

  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student
  • Article: ‘Health Washing – 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 Curriculum.


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 Australians 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 ad

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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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