Topic: Projects

Activities which can be used across several days, and developed through discussion in class. Some of these might be suitable for the A-level English Language NEA (non-exam assessment), where students have to conduct a linguistic investigation.

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.

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.

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.

Questions in spoken language

Spoken language is usually seen as being more interactive than written language. As speakers, we address each other directly (Hey guys), indicate our attention to each other (Mmm), and respond to each others’ comments (Really?, You didn’t!). These are all examples of interactive features.

Another interactive feature associated with spoken language is question–answer sequences. In this investigation we will explore this feature, using data from ICE-GB (our corpus, or database of real language).

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.

Vocabulary and semantic change

Words change meaning over time. Some terms that used to have one meaning fifty years ago have developed very different meanings now. Often, slang terms are among those quickest to change, and we can see this in examples such as sick, wicked and gay, all of which have undergone fairly substantial shifts in meaning over relatively short periods of time.

Word formation processes

New words are being generated at a rapid speed and there has been a huge upsurge in the number of new words being considered for inclusion in dictionaries. A fairly limited number of word formation processes are responsible for these new words. In our suggested mini-project, students look at a range of examples, and try to work out the key patterns of word formation that are responsible. This makes a good starting point for a detailed investigation of new words.

Project aims

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