Topic: 'A' level

Relevant for England and Wales National Curriculum at 'A' level (Key Stage 5).

Language investigation ideas: Accent and dialect

After Labov’s New York department stores study

Does shop assistants’ speech converge with the speech style of their customers?

A version of Labov’s study can easily be done anywhere there are a variety of similar shops (or publicly accessible institutions like sports centres or libraries).

Language investigation ideas: Ethnicity and social networks

Do second and third generations of immigrant families converge less with local Anglo English dialects?

Research by Sharma and Sankaran measured the use of non-standard British Asian and Cockney features in the speech of two generations of British Asian people. They found that the older generation were converging much more dramatically with people they spoke with.

Language investigation ideas: Language and gender

Do female MMA fighters use ‘masculine’ speech features?  

Given combat sports are a violent and competitive environment, they might be thought of as a stereotypically masculine environment. An investigation could look at whether female participants use features that researchers have claimed are more commonly used by men.

Language investigation ideas: Social networks, ethnicity and brokers

Do different social networks adopt new features at different rates? (or: Are specific individuals spreading novel features through their social networks?)

To work well, this idea would need a sharp ear for new features and access to specific sorts of social networks. 

Language investigation ideas: World Englishes and gender

If genderlects exist, do people who learn English as a second language display features that have been identified as gendered? 

If men and women speak in distinct ways (as has been claimed by Lakoff, Tannen and others), it would be interesting to see whether people who have learned English as a second language display these traits – presumably if the (claimed) difference is primarily due to biological factors (e.g.

Language of spam

Introduction

If you’ve got an email account, inevitably you’ll have received spam. Whether it’s adverts for vicodine or Viagra, single Russian women looking for fun (and your sort code), appeals for money from the daughters of deposed Nigerian generals, or requests to update your details from a bank that you don’t have an account with, spam is all around us.

Martian grammar

This is a unit about the grammar of an invented language, ‘Martian’. It uses students’ (often subconscious) understanding of morphology to help them uncover the ‘rules’ of a made-up language. To ‘crack’ the language, they will need to break down the words into meaningful parts.

Martian grammar: Activity 1

Aliens have landed on Earth, but don’t worry: they come in peace. Or at least, we think they do, but we can’t quite understand what they’re talking about.

Their language is not familiar and even highly trained experts are struggling to work out what they are saying. Your job is to work with the Martian examples that they have translated and work out some of the rules of their language. In doing so, you might even learn something about your own language.

Martian grammar: teacher feedback

Once you have worked through the Martian grammar activities, you can look at some of the things you have discovered.

Let’s look at some elements of grammar that we have identified in the Martian grammar exercise:

Metaphors of language

Exploring the way we think and talk about language

This project asks students to explore metaphors of the English language. If you need a quick refresher, it might be useful to revisit some of the introductory pages on metaphor here before completing the project work.

Metaphor is a highly pervasive feature of any language, not only reflecting the way that we understand the world, but constituting and shaping it. In linguistics, we use the X IS Y formula to indicate a metaphor - for example:

Multicultural London English

Ghetto speak?

Attitudes to some varieties of English can often be quite hostile, especially when regional, racial and cultural prejudices are part of the mix. A case in point is the development of what some linguists call Multicultural London English (or MLE), but what some journalists refer to as ‘Jafaican’.

Have a look at the article 'Word on the street in London' from the London Evening Standard to see what you make of the changing varieties of London English.

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.

Tag questions and gender

Teacher notes

Goals

The conversational styles of men and women are a key area of study in the two major English Language A-level specifications. Students are encouraged to analyse examples of conversation, informed by their study of some of the major research into deficit, dominance, difference and social constructionist models.

Tag questions and gender: Project

Introduction

The following is an outline of a number of questions that could be asked while putting together an investigation into tag questions.

Read the extract by Robin Lakoff in Language and gender: an advanced resource book (J.Sunderland, Routledge, 2006) which is reproduced in the handout at the bottom of this page.

Texting styles

Recent research into texting suggests that different people use different styles. The style you use is influenced by factors such as your age, the social group you spend most of your time with, and whether you’re male or female – but also by your personal relationship with the person you’re texting and what you’re texting about.

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?

Clause types: advanced

In the National Curriculum no terminological distinction is made between the grammatical patterns of the clause types, and the way that these clause types are used. In linguistic studies different terminology is used for the former and latter. What follows is not statutory in the NC, but some readers may appreciate some more background on terminology.

In linguistics the terms declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamative are used to talk about grammatical patterns.

Sentence types: simple, compound, complex

This unit further explains simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences, which were introduced in the unit 'Clauses: main and subordinate'. Simple sentences contain one clause, while compound and complex sentences contain more than one clause.

National Curriculum note: The National Curriculum now refers to sentences that contain one clause as single-clause sentences, and those that contain more than one clause as multi-clause sentences.

Tag questions

Questions like ...isn’t it?, ...haven’t they? and ...wouldn’t you? that sit on the end of a statement are called tag questions in linguistics. There’s a range of different tag questions most people call on, varying by verb, tense, person and whether the tag is positive or negative.

Tag questions: Innit

For some people, innit is just another tag question, a contraction of isn’t it. But kids in urban Britain are using innit to cover a wider and wider range of situations. Here are some examples of non-standard use, gleaned from recent messageboard postings:

»

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?

Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-19 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Privacy | Cookies