Friday 9 December 2011
by Ken Paterson
When we were deciding on the contents for ‘A Handbook of Spoken Grammar’ (follow the links ‘Titles’ and ‘Language Practice’ on the DELTA website for details) we were fairly sure we wanted to include some spoken English ‘lexical bundles’. These are strings of words that corpus research has shown are particularly frequent in conversation. See the Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English for a series of examples.
We thought we would take a look at bundles with the verb ‘know’, which often top the frequency lists. The three word bundle ‘I don’t know’ is very common, but can be used in almost too many contexts. Five word bundles with ‘know’ (e.g. ‘I don’t know what to’) seemed too restrictive. So we settled for a four word bundle pattern that we thought might be productive for learners:
‘I don’t know what/when/where/which/who/why/how…’
When I first started teaching I would almost certainly have thought that the break in this pattern should come after the word ‘know’, and probably taught it as ‘know + a wh- clause’. Now I think it is equally as useful to let learners work with the chunks ‘I don’t know what…’ or ‘I don’t know how…’, particularly in spoken English activities.
In the book, we offer an explanation of these chunks with ‘know’, some natural dialogues and some practice. But you might like to try a simple activity in class yourselves:
Write all seven four-word chunks (‘I don’t know what …’, ‘I don’t know when … etc.) in a random order on the whiteboard. Then get your students into pairs or threes. Ask them to talk about a holiday they might take in the near future (or any other subject you like!). The only condition is that they try to include some of these chunks in their conversation. Monitor the groups, and if you hear some good examples, ask the students to rehearse and repeat these to the class.
Let me know how it works. Next time, we’ll look at the ‘vague’ use of ‘thing’.
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- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
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Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Being Creative takes you on a journey that reveals how all teachers have the potential to become creative. Whether you are experienced or new to the classroom, Being Creative allows your teaching to take flight.
The Book of Pronunciation
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Book of Pronunciation is a definitive account of the key role pronunciation plays in teaching and learning, providing a highly authoritative but hugely accessible overview of the essential elements of English pronunciation as well as a wide range of classroom practice.
The Company Words Keep
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Company Words Keep is a practical and thought-provoking guide for language teachers, showing how the latest insights into “language chunks” can lead to learners acquiring natural and fluent English.
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Culture in our Classrooms
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
DIGITAL PLAY - 2012 ELTONS WINNER IN INNOVATION IN TEACHER RESOURCES! Digital Play is a pioneering book on the use of computer games in language teaching. Authors Kyle and Graham are experts in teaching with technology and training teachers in innovative classroom practice.
The Developing Teacher
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