Topic: Composition

These resources relate to writing skills, including the composition of essays, persuasive pieces, and other types of texts.

Adverb placement: Activity

she
combed
quickly
her
hair

the
table
now
is
filthy

Ambiguity and headlines

Newspaper headlines often compress sequences of actions into very compact structures. Sometimes the meaning becomes ambiguous as a result.

Ambiguity and headlines: Activity

Police chase driver in hospital

Violinist linked to Japan Airlines crash blossoms

BT ducks break-up with price cuts

Reagan wins on budget, but more lies ahead

Juvenile court to try shooting defendant

Analysing language choices in reviews

In this lesson, students examine word choice in a pair of published reviews.

Goals

  • Identify words with particular effects in a particular genre of English writing, the review.
  • Discuss the effects of word choice in real language in use.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at two published reviews and analyse the language choices that the writers made.

Analysing language choices in reviews: Activity

It’s reasonably compact, compared to most smartphones these days, with a 3.7in screen that’s slightly bigger than the iPhone’s. It looks neat enough, but when you pick it up it feels like no other phone around. The screen is slightly curved, and so are the edges of the phone. It all feels like a smooth, tactile pebble, with glossy front and matte back. It’s made from polycarbonate, that is plastic, but it’s put together like it’s one piece. Even the tiny holes on the bottom edge for the speaker are individually precision-milled.

Baby Sentences

Goals

  • Use implicit grammatical knowledge to translate examples of infant speech into complete sentences.
  • (For older students) use explicit grammatical knowledge to identify the types of changes that have been made in translating from the original examples.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at some real examples of English spoken by infants, and translate it into adult speech.

Baby Sentences: Activity

Daddy go work

Mummy read

Daddy bike

What that

Where blanket

Sock off

Teddy fall

Sammy tired

Certainty and uncertainty

Sometimes we make confident statements, while at other times we want to express some uncertainty. In this resource we will explore the expression of certainty and uncertainty. This is one of the areas of meaning we call modality.

Certainty and uncertainty: Activity 1

Imagine that you are not sure about the following statements, and find ways to make them sound less certain.Write three different versions for each example.

  1. Amy has gone home.
  2. I will definitely have the essay written by tomorrow.
  3. This disease is caused by a virus.
  4. The British team will win this match easily.

Certainty and uncertainty: Activity 2

Rank the given examples in order from most certain to most uncertain, with most certain at the top and most uncertain at the bottom. Identify the words in the examples that help to convey certainty or uncertainty. Are they modal auxiliary verbs? Adverbs? Main verbs? What conclusions can you make about the way that individual word choices affect the certainty of expressions?

This may not be easy, and some examples may be debatable!

Compare your rankings with somebody else. Are there any areas of disagreement?

 

Clauses in composition

Goals

  • Identify sentence structures and clauses in example texts.
  • Describe and evaluate the effects of the clause and sentence structure choices in the examples.

Lesson Plan

Looking at clauses and sentences in linguistic detail can give you an extra level of analysis that can be used to open up a text’s depths. The slides in the Activity page in the right hand menu present some examples. The examples include interesting clause structures, all of which seem to be designed to create effects.

Clauses in composition: Activity

Extract from a charity advertisement:

Nana-Kwame will never see his brothers. He will never see his sisters. He will never see his mother or father. They are dead.

Extract from a charity advertisement:

You can make the difference. You have the power. If you give just £10 we can make huge changes to these children’s lives.

Taken from Louis Sachar, Holes

Derived nouns and composition

In this activity we will look at suffixes that can change adjectives and verbs into nouns.

Derived nouns and composition: Activity 1

Complete the examples with nouns which are derived from the highlighted adjectives. The first answer is provided for you.

Anna was late. It annoyed me. → Anna's lateness annoyed me.

Jeff is shy. I didn’t notice this until the party. → I didn’t notice Jeff’s ___ until the party. I didn’t notice Jeff’s shyness until the party.

Derived nouns and composition: Activity 2

Complete the examples with nouns which are derived from the highlighted adjectives. The first answer is provided.

The peacekeeping forces withdrew. It led to civil war. → The withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces led to civil war.

Discourse structure

Goals

  • Review a list of useful vocabulary and phrases for establishing continuity, cohesion, and structure in discourse.
  • Apply knowledge of discourse structure to arranging sentences into an appropriate, meaningful order as an article.
  • Analyse existing texts to identify elements that support the discourse structure of the texts.

Lesson Plan

Activity 1

Dizzee Rascal and the textbook

The way we use language can differ dramatically according to context. This creative lesson asks students to translate from one context into another. This is a great approach that allows students to apply their implicit knowledge of language, and to analyse linguistic features naturally and implicitly, based on their intuitive language skills.

Dizzee Rascal and the textbook: Activity

Stress on the brain, complain, too da fool. Stress on the brain, complain, too da max.

I'm gonna search for big money stacks, top tens and platinum whacks.

Ain't got no need for a chain of a chaks. I'm a rude boi, I ain't gotta relax.

I got this game in my head like dax. Got this game in my hand, be cool.

Unstoppable, make a boi relax. I'll take teeth for the money and jaks.

We make money off album tracks. Come on, I'll face it, let's all face facts.

Information structuring

In this activity, students will be asked to find different ways to express a similar meaning. You may be surprised at just how many different ways you can find! The activity is based on an idea from Max Morenberg’s book Doing Grammar (3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2002).

Information structuring: Activity

  • Sally was late. It annoyed the boss.

  • Sally was late and it annoyed the boss.
  • It annoyed the boss that Sally was late.
  • Sally’s lateness annoyed the boss.

Language and context

Sometimes great humour is born from taking language out of context. This lesson explores that fact with some examples, and asks students to think of some of their own.

Linguistics of lies

In this lesson, students explore the features of lies, from a linguistic perspective.

Goals

  • Discuss the features of lies from a linguistic perspective.
  • Identify pronouns, negative emotional terms, sense terms and causal phrases.
  • Discuss the role of context in interpretation.
  • Present evidence to support an argument.

Lesson Plan

Background

Linguistics of lies: Activity

Extract 1

Hi Paul

I’m not going to be able to make it in today as the boiler’s broken down and I need to wait for the repair man to come round.

I’ll do what work I can here and email you the report for Thursday’s meeting.

Mark

Extract 2

Dear Paul

Sorry about this but I can’t make it in today. I’ve got a stinking cold and I’m feeling really rough. It came on over the weekend and the kids have been feeling pretty bad too.

No 'AND's

In this lesson, students build a story without the word and.

Goals

  • Recognise the uses and meaning of the word and.
  • Become more conscious of our own use of the word and.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will tell a story. There's only one rule: no one is allowed to use the word and.

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