Topic: Lessons

Classroom lesson plans and interactive smart board activities.

Foregrounding

Noticing and exploring linguistic patterns in literary texts

Foregrounding is a widely-used term in text analysis, literary linguistics and stylistics, referring to patterns of language that stand out in a text. The term itself is derived from art and film criticism, and is best understood by a visual analogy. Here is a picture of San Francisco:

San Francisco houses

Forensic linguistics: a starter

an activity using language clues to solve crime

Forensic linguistics is a growing area of language study that combines the analysis of language with solving crimes. All of us use language in subtly (and sometimes not very subtly) different ways – so when we write or speak, we leave clues that sharp-eyed language detectives can pick up.

In this resource, we take a quick look at the kinds of clues forensic linguists look for when they try to work out the identity of a writer.

Forensic linguistics: how is it done?

an explanation of text analysis methods

Forensic linguistics often uses a form of language analysis known as stylistics. In the past, stylistics was largely used to study the language styles of literature texts, but when used as part of forensic stylistics it is applied to all sorts of language, from letters, text messages and audio recordings of police interviews, through to suicide notes and ransom demands.

Forensic linguistics: some answers

suggested answers for the starter activity

So, what clues did you find? The police were convinced that the two sets of messages were actually from different people, and that Melinda hadn’t sent the messages on February 16th, but they needed evidence.

Some of the clues in the data are easier to spot than others, but here are some differences:

Form and function

A useful distinction in grammar is that of form and function. Grammatical form is concerned with the description of linguistic units in terms of what they are, and grammatical function is concerned with the description of what these linguistic units do. Note that we use capital letters at the beginning of function labels.

Form and function: Activity 1

Analysing the way that form and function are related

In the exercise you'll be asked to identify the function and the form of the highlighted words.

Identify the Function

Identify the function of the highlighted words in the following sentences.

Formal and informal

This lesson resource is designed to draw attention to how we use different registers in a variety of written contexts. When we use language, we make a number of different lexical and grammatical choices, depending on the context, or 'situation of usage'.

Formal and informal: Activity

working with register variation

The concept of register is about the idea of appropriate language, which is shaped by context. Thinking about context is a fundamental part of language analysis, and is a useful 'way in' to exploring language choices and meanings. 

Being able to vary your register is an important skill.

In this activity we will start by looking at two real letters. One of them is a personal letter and the other a business letter. You can download them, or read through them here:

Identify the semantic role

Exercise

You will be given some sentences where two or three noun phrases are marked off with square brackets. For each sentence:

  • Identify the semantic roles of the noun phrases (agent, patient or recipient).
  • Write a different sentence to describe the same situation, where the same roles are expressed in different ways.

Example:

  • [The people we were staying with] cooked [us] [a traditional Normandy dinner]. [S1A-009 #125, adapted]

Roles:

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.

KS1 noun phrase generator

Use the interactive whiteboard to generate weird and wonderful noun phrases. 

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.

Metaphor

Understanding and analysing metaphor

Goals

  • Understand the concept of metaphor and how they are formed
  • Analyse the use of metaphor in a real text

Lesson Plan

  • Using the information and examples below, explain that metaphor is an everyday part of human communication
  • Use the examples of metaphor to explain how they are formed: by something abstract being understood in terms of something concrete
  • At this point, students could discuss any other examples of metaphor they can think of
  • Next, mo

Metaphor: Activity

Analysing metaphor in political discourse

Attached to this page are some extracts of a 2016 speech delivered by David Cameron after the UK voted to leave the European Union. For each extract, you will be asked to do two things:

1) Work out what metaphor is being used. What is being understood in terms of what?

2) Comment on why you think that metaphor is used. What purpose does it serve? What kind of meaning does it carry, in the wider context of the political situation in which the speech took place?

You will see on the handout that one example has been done for you.

Metaphor: Introduction

What is a metaphor? Introduction for the classroom activity

Metaphor is often thought of as something that is confined to literary texts, but as we shall see, this really isn't the case.

Everyday language is full of metaphor, and it is actually quite difficult to use language without it!

Let's look at an example - the metaphor of LIFE IS A JOURNEY. (In linguistics, the standard way to show metaphor is by using capital letters). In this metaphor, the abstract concept of 'life' is understood as a concrete, physical 'journey'.

This generates sentences such as:

Morphology - an introduction

In this lesson, students explore word morphology. Morphology is an area of language study concerned with how words are formed. While syntax is about the larger structures formed when words are put together, morphology is about the structure within words.

Morphology - an introduction: Activity 1

Activity 1: Finding word parts

From the list below, pick out the words that are complex. Can you break them down into meaningful parts?

  1. bread
  2. sunshine
  3. fossil
  4. sleepwalker
  5. unhappy
  6. umbrella
  7. rebuild
  8. laughing

There are some further questions on the next slide.

Now look at the parts of the words that you have found. Which ones can be used on their own?

Morphology - an introduction: Activity 2

Activity 2: Same word or different words?

Would you say the following are different words or the same word?

  • hesitate, hesitates, hesitated, hesitating

It depends what we mean by ‘word’! In one everyday sense, they are all different words.

Morphology - an introduction: Activity 3

Activity 3: How many words?

Look at the sentence below and answer the following questions:

  1. How many different words, in the sense of dictionary words, are there?
  2. Which items can be grouped together as forms of the same word?
  • I think teasing tigers is unwise, because I teased a tiger once and barely escaped alive.

 

Negation and conceptual effects

Goals

  • To understand different types of negation and the kinds of conceptual effects it has on readers.
  • To analyse the use of negation in a text.

Negation

Begin by explaining the concept of negation to your students. You might like to use the following definition (taken from the Englicious glossary):

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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Englicious contains many resources for English language in schools, but the vast majority of them require you to register and log in first. For more information, see What is Englicious?

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