Topic: Grammar in context

These pages explore methods and principles for teaching grammar in context.

A framework for language analysis

This page includes a handout on which you will find a framework for language analysis, developed over time through our Teaching English Grammar in Context course.

Starting to analyse a text can be a rather intimidating task. Where to start? What to include/not include? And how to do this systematically, rather than simply pulling out grammatical features at random and trying to write some kind of cohesive analysis?

Adverbials and positioning in clauses

Exploring the effect of adverbial placement in different texts

In this lesson, we look at ways of teaching adverbials and the different ways they can be positioned inside clauses.

Goals

  • Explore the effect of placing adverbials in different positions.
  • Understand how adverbials are flexible and can be moved around to 'do different things'.
  • Help students apply this in their writing.

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, we take the concept of the adverbial and explore it through the analysis and creation of literary texts. This has 3 steps:

An Introduction to Genre

Lesson Plan

Goals:

An Introduction to Genre

Activities

Activity 1

Writing is an activity by which we achieve different goals. There are so many different types of text, we give the different types their own names. The names we give to different texts are called genres.

What kind of written or spoken text would you find the following sentences and phrases in? Give an answer for each one.

Analysing structure in literary texts

Exploring structure through patterns and attention

Goals

  • Understand a method for analysing structure in literary texts.
  • Analyse the use of structure in a real text.

Lesson plan

  • This lesson is focused on the GCSE English Language 'structure' Assessment Objective.
  • It begins by considering what is meant by 'structure', and then introduces an analytical method for exploring the structure of literary texts.
  • This approach is then applied to a short extract. 
  • Some further texts are provided at the end, for us

Building characters

Analysing the language of characters in a literary text

Goals

  • Understand some of the ways that writers use language to create characters
  • Analyse the use of language in a literary text

Lesson Plan

  • You could start by asking students to think about some of the ways that writers use language to create fictional characters. What makes a convincing character? What are some of their favourite characters from fiction, and why?
  • Next, talk students through the first passage from Jekyll & Hyde.

Building characters: Activity

This extract is from later in the novel, where Mr. Hyde attacks a stranger in the street. Read it through, and think:

Clause patterns in online recipes

Exploring how and why different clause patterns are used

This activity looks at different clause patterns (statement; question; command; exclamation) in an online recipe. Students are asked to think about why different clause patterns are used, and what kind of role they play in creating the meaning of the text.

Deixis in drama

Exploring how deixis works in dramatic texts

Deixis is a word of Greek origin meaning 'pointing'. Thus, words which are deictic 'point' to different times, spaces and people. The meaning of these words is dependent upon the context in which they are used. 

For example: if a teacher stands at the front of a room, at 9.13am on Wednesday 28 June and says to a student 'I want you to come here now', then the following deictic words mean:

Foregrounding

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.

Goal

Noticing and exploring linguistic patterns in literary texts.

Here is a picture of San Francisco:

Foregrounding - activity

In pairs or small groups, explore instances of grammatical foregrounding in Funeral Blues. This could be done by producing an analysis grid, where students examine how a grammatical feature of the text is foregrounded, and most importantly, discuss the potential meaning of the foregrounded feature. How do the instances of foregrounding add to our understanding and enjoyment of the poem?

To get you started, here are a couple of ideas:

Grammatical feature

Formal and Informal Language

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Distinguish between formal and informal writing contexts
  • Identify which grammatical features create register
  • Apply these features in writing

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that we don't speak and write the same way in all situations. Depending on who we're talking to and what the situation is, we change. This is called register.

Formal and Informal Language

Activities

Formal describes a more serious register. We use this for talking to people we don't know or who are in positions of authority. It is also used for talking to people older than us. It shows that we want to respect or impress the audience.

Informal describes a more relaxed register. We use this for talking to people we know well like friends and family. It is also used to talk to people the same age as us or younger. It shows that we feel comfortable with the audience.

Genre of Advertisements

Lesson Plan

Goals: 

  • Identify common discourse and register features of advertisements
  • Analyse how these features are used to achieve the desired effects 
  • Plan, write and evaluate an advert using the same features 

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you may want to complete the lesson An Introduction to Genre, so that learners are familiar with the key terms discourse structure and register

Genre of Advertisements

Activities

Warmer 

Discuss with a partner: 

  • What adverts did you see on the way to school today? What made them memorable?
  • What advert have you seen recently that stuck in your mind? Why? 
  • What kind of writing and information do we normally see in adverts? 

Activity 1 

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

Genre of Argument and Discussion 1

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Discuss the tone and purpose of argument and disucssion in essays
  • Identify the discouse structures and organisation features
  • Analyse how grammar contributes to organisation

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you may want to complete the lesson An Introduction to Genre, so that learners are familiar with the key terms discourse structure and register

Genre of Argument and Discussion 1

Activities

Warm-up

What kind of text is an argument or discussion?

What is its purpose?

What makes it different from other texts?

Activity 1

Read the essay on the hand out.

1. What is the topic of the essay? What facts do you learn?

2. What is the author's perspective? How can you tell?

3. How is this text written? What is the tone? Why is it written in this way?

Genre of Argument and Discussion 2

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Identify and analsye how nominalisations are used in essays
  • Identify and analsye how the passiv voice is used in essays
  • Apply these features in a writing task

Lesson Plan

This is Part 2 of the lesson on Argument and Discussion. 

Make sure you have the handout from Part 1

Genre of Argument and Discussion 2

Activities

This is Part 2 of the lesson on Argument and Discussion. 

Make sure you have the handout from Part 1

In the first lesson, you looked at how information is organised through discourse structure. In this lesson, you will examine choices of language and register.  

Activity 1

Re-read paragraph 3. Can you find an example of the same word being used in different grammatical roles?

Genre of Encyclopaedia Entries

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Identify the purpose and tone of encyclopaedia entries
  • Analyse the discourse structure and register features
  • Produce an encyclopaedia entry using the same techniques

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you may want to complete the lesson An Introduction to Genre, so that learners are familiar with the key terms discourse structure and register

Genre of Encyclopaedia Entries

Activities

Warm up

What kind of text is an encyclopaedia?

What is its purpose?

What makes it different from other texts?

Activity 1

Read the Tiger encyclopaedia entry.

  1. What are three facts you learn about tigers?
  2. How is this text written? What is the tone? Why is it written in this way?

What three words best describe the tone and style of this text?

Genre of Narratives and Recounts

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Distinguish recounts from narratives
  • Identify the discourse structure and features of register used in narratives
  • Re-order a narrative by following the appropriate features

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you may want to complete the lesson An Introduction to Genre, so that learners are familiar with the key terms discourse structure and register

Genre of Narratives and Recounts

Activities

Activity 1

Today, we're looking at the genre of storytelling. Narratives and recounts are two ways of describing events.

What do you think is the difference between narratives and recounts?

Narratives and recounts both relate events that took place in the past and which occur in a logical order.

Genre of Newspaper Articles

Lesson Plan

Goals:

  • Identify and analsye the discourse features of newspaper articles
  • Identify and analsye the register features of newspaper articles
  • Apply these features in writing 

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you may want to complete the lesson An Introduction to Genre, so that learners are familiar with the key terms discourse structure and register

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