Topic: Spoken language

These resources will help you to teach the topic of spoken English.

Pragmatics and turn-taking: Activity 3

Kate Gosselin TV interview

Pragmatics in a political interview

Goals

  • Identify some elements of spoken dialogue in an interview setting.
  • Analyse some features of colloquial language, specifically the kinds of words and phrases that are used.

Lesson Plan

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. It includes a video of an interview between Russell Brand and Ed Miliband, recorded just before the UK General Election in May 2015.

Speech and writing

Students get a sense of how spoken and written language vary by looking at short extracts of each, on various topics. 

Goals

  • Identify features of speech and writing.
  • Compare and contrast speech and writing.
  • Recognise the importance of genre in anlaysing language.

Lesson Plan

This lesson includes 3 handouts, which can be downloaded below and printed for distribution to students.

Speech transcripts

This lesson invites students to explore a real transcript of natural conversational speech, like those used by linguists who analyse all aspects of language.

Goals

  • Explore a transcript of natural speech. 
  • Identify attributes of natural speech. 
  • Compare natural speech to written language. 

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will explore features of real spoken language.

Spoken language and literature

In this exercise, students look at two examples of English language and describe their characteristics. What each one actually represents may surprise you.

Goals

  • Describe the features of some examples of English language. 
  • Try to determine from the features where the example might have come from.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will look at two examples of English language and try to describe them as well as we can.

Standards and variation in Singapore English

English is used in remarkably different ways around the world. Exploring that variation is an extremely effective tool towards understanding our own use of English. This lesson looks at some features of colloquial Singapore English.

Texting language

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

Goals

  • Discuss texting language from a linguistic perspective.
  • Define some key linguistic terms relevant to texting language.

Lesson Plan

Part 1

Texting language: Activity

Text 1 Text 2

Hey Gems,how ru?How was last nite?Hope u had a gd time..;)I herd the party was rele bad…ppl had an awful time!I guess I shud b glad I didn’t go afta all…tbXx

Free Msg; Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3750 for the accident you had. To apply free reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP

Variation and standards

In this lesson we ask students to think about variation in language - including reflections on their own language and the language around them.

Variation and standards: Activity

  • How is the way you speak English different from the way your parents speak English?
  • How is it different from the way your teachers speak English?
  • How is it different from the way the Queen speaks English?
  • How is it different from the English of the BBC?
  • How is it different from the English of Eastenders, Coronation Street, or Rastamouse?
  • How is it different from the English of Hollywood movies?

Word frequency

What are the most frequently used words in English? And could we do without them?

Word frequency: Activity

The 10 most common English words are:

the

of

and

a

in

to

it

is/was

I

for

Can you answer the following questions without using these 10 words?

Tag questions

Do the following examples contain tag questions or not?

Keeping a Language Log

Introduction

Most of the time, students' work in English is assessed by things that they write about things that they have read. For example, their exams may consist of writing about a Shakespeare play they have studied, or perhaps some non-fiction texts like advertisements or extracts of journalism from a newspaper or magazine.

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.

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.

Clauses: Further guidance for teachers

Modern grammatical descriptions of English differ in some ways from the accounts in traditional grammars. This can sometimes lead to confusion. Here we note a few important differences in relation to the analysis of clauses and sentences.

Corpora

A corpus is ‘a collection of pieces of language, selected and ordered according to explicit linguistic criteria in order to be used as a sample of language’ (Sinclair, 1996).

Discourse markers

Discourse markers are usually short words, phrases or clauses that guide the way in which participants in a conversation interact with each other and how they react to each other's contributions. Here are some examples:

yeah, oh, well, ehr, uhm, ah, anyway, definitely, OK, absolutely, mmm, I mean, I think, so

Double negatives

Since the 17th century, English grammarians have spoken out against constructions with double negatives. Before the 17th century, double negatives were considered perfectly acceptable in English, like in present-day Spanish, French and many other languages of the world. Even today we're often taught to avoid a double negative.

The idea is that we should try to avoid saying something like:

  • He didn't not get the prize.

This is because in logic, two nots cancel each other out. So the statement above would logically mean:

Grammar

We define grammar as the study of the structure of words and sentences. As such it is an abstract system, worthy of study in its own right. However, we also see grammar as a system that is used in a range of contexts to unlock meaning. We want to look at grammar not only in written language, but also in spoken English, in a range of multimodal forms, and in all its rich variety.

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