This blog is, like, about kids, ya’ know, who, like, punctuate their stories with hesitators, like like, um, and ya’ know, ya’ know. Though they are easier to listen to than they are to read, they drive me nuts either way. I discovered this pet peeve while driving my daughter and her friends around during their middle school years. It seemed they could only communicate if “like” was laced throughout their narrative so I decided to play with their minds a bit and made up The Like Game. They were allowed to tell their stories, but had to stop immediately when they said their first “like”. The story then passed to the next girl. They loved the challenge, the competition, and the camaraderie. It also significantly diminished their reliance on hesitators.
In class we will periodically do this with the um word. When students begin their narrative, whatever it may be, they must start over if they begin with or use the word “um”. This serves several purposes: students are encouraged to formulate a concise answer; students become aware of hesitator words; other students are engaged in listening to their peers, ostensibly for the “um’s” and ideally for the content. They love the challenge, the competition, and the camaraderie.
I am careful to do this only when we are discussing previous or known topics. I do not further clutter their thinking with this game when they are acquiring new information, as I believe, um, it is, like, very important they are free to think, ya’ know.