Topic: Composition

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

Genre of Recipes

Activities

Warmer 

Discuss with a partner: 

  • What's your favourite meal? 
  • What recipes can you cook? 
  • What kind of information do recipes normally include?

Activity 1 

In pairs or small groups, read recipes A and B. Take turns describing each recipe, and then discuss with your partner: 

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.

Passives in use

Investigating the effect of using passives

The slides in the Activity page in the right hand menu contain examples of passives from real writing. Have students do the following:

Passives in use: Activity

Extract A (from a student exam paper on emotion)

Furthermore there is evidence that supports these bodily changes as being essential to an emotional state. This evidence involved testing patients with spine severances. The patients were interviewed and tested in a laboratory and results consistently showed that the higher the spine severance the less patients reported being able to ‘feel’ an emotion.

Passives with 'get'

Goals

  • Identify the difference between a get-passive and a standard passive.
  • Describe some of the differences between get-passives and standard passives in terms of grammar, semantics, and pragmatics.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at passives.

First, let's briefly review our understanding of actives, and of passives and get-passives. 

Passives with 'get': Activity

Uncle Ahmed was bitten by the snake.
Uncle Ahmed got bitten by the snake.

A large house was demolished on Westmoreland Hill.
A large house got demolished on Westmoreland Hill.

These temples were abandoned in medieval times.
These temples got abandoned in medieval times.

Past participles in composition

This activity involves working with nonfinite clauses to do some sentence-splitting and sentence-joining. The purpose is to develop your awareness of the different kinds of structures that are available to you as a writer.

Past participles in composition: Activity 1

His report, published yesterday, demands fundamental changes in the way safety is regulated in the North Sea. →

His report was published yesterday. It demands fundamental changes in the way safety is regulated in the North Sea.

Invented in the late sixties, the melotron used a complicated system of loop tape recordings to achieve an effect similar to sampling. →

Past participles in composition: Activity 2

Beckett’s early work was written in English over the period from 1929 to 1938. It seems restless, nomadic. →

Written in English over the period from 1929 to 1938, Beckett’s early work seems restless, nomadic.

The electromagnetic bell was patented in 1878 by Thomas Watson. It is rugged, reliable and loud enough to be heard from some appreciable distance. →

Playing with person

In this exercise, students make changes to pronouns in texts, and evaluate the effects of those changes.

Goals

  • Identify first, second, and third person pronouns, and practise switching from one to another.
  • Evaluate the effects of writing using different personal pronouns.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will make changes to existing texts by changing the personal pronouns in those texts.

Playing with person: Activity

I’m sitting here looking out of the window. Nothing’s happening; it never does. I sit here every day for hours on end, just looking. Looking for what? I don’t know. They never told me what I should be looking for. And I’ve never found out.

I once thought I’d found something, but I couldn’t be sure. It might just have been a trick of the light. How was I to tell?

Politeness and directness

This task is about using verbs and modal verbs in different ways. We all know that people can be direct or indirect in the ways they phrase things. We often use commands to give instructions, but sometimes these might be seen as too direct and blunt. We sometimes soften them with modal verbs, among other tools.

Politeness and directness: Activity

Try to make the following expressions less direct. Compose alternative sentences for each one.

  1. Shut the window.
  2. Tell me your name.
  3. Stop talking.

What changes did you make to render the expressions less direct? 

Now, make the following expressions more direct. Compose an alternative sentence for each example.

Prepared speech

Using corpora to investigate prepared speeches

One very simple approach to using corpora in English lessons is to pull apart a speech using the programme Wordle, which can be found here. Wordle creates simple but beautiful images made up of words in a text that you can input.

Preposing

In this exercise you can see what happens when you move elements, particularly Direct Objects, earlier in the clause.

Preposing: Activity

Some things I can remember without writing them down. → I can remember some things without writing them down.

Hardbacks I wouldn’t lend to anyone. → I wouldn't lend hardbacks to anyone.

Prepositions in instructional writing

Prepositions are particularly important when trying to communicate instructions about time and place.

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The Activity page contains one slide: an example of instructional writing from our corpus. You can see that quite precise instructions are given as part of a recipe. It is reprinted below with the prepositions highlighted.

Method

Prepositions in instructional writing: Activity

Method

Cut the meat into even-sized cubes, leaving any fat, but removing all gristle.

Process for 10 seconds, scrape the sides. Make sure the meat is thoroughly evenly cut, then turn the meat into a separate bowl.

Add the onion and egg yolk to the bowl and process until the food is pureed, add salt and pepper to the meat.

Present participles in composition

This activity involves working with nonfinite clauses to do some sentence-splitting and sentence-joining. The purpose is to develop your awareness of the different kinds of structures that are available to you as a writer.

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