Topic: Grammar in context

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

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:

  • Check previous knowledge of genre and define the term
  • Define the key terms discourse structure and register
  • Identify examples of the key terms in authentic texts

Lesson Plan

In Activity 1, the teacher could start by introducing the concept of genre. A useful warmer might be asking learners to discuss what the term genre means and generate examples, then sharing with the whole class. To finish, show the first slide and check how closely their definitions match.

An Introduction to Genre

Activities

Activity 1

Writing is an activity by which we achieve different ends. These writing activities are often ones that we recognise and label. The name we give to such recognisable activities is genre.

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 Argument and Discussion

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 the organisation of the essay.

Lesson Plan

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

NB: This lesson and lesson plan are divided into two parts!

Genre of Argument and Discussion

Activities: Part 1

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 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 should complete the An Introduction to Genrelesson, so that learners are familiar with 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 following the discourse structure and features of register

Lesson Plan

Before this lesson, you should complete the An Introduction to Genre lesson, so that learners are familiar with 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 telling stories.

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.

The difference is that narratives try to make sense of what happened and link the events through cause and effect. Also, recounts tend to be factual, but narratives are usually fictional.

Negation and conceptual effects

Goals

  • To understand different types of negation and the kinds of conceptual effects it has on readers.
  • To analyse the use of negation in a text.

Negation

Begin by explaining the concept of negation to your students. You might like to use the following definition (taken from the Englicious glossary):

Nonfinite clauses in literature

In this activity, students look at how nonfinite clauses might be used in their own writing and that of others to vary the structure of a text. On one level, this is about creating something that people like to read: something that is interesting, varied and engaging and designed to hook the reader or suit the style you are hoping to adopt. On another level, it’s about students showing teachers and examiners that they know about different forms and can use them in their writing.

Noun phrases in descriptive writing

Goals

  • To explore the role of noun phrases in descriptive writing.
  • To consider how noun phrases can have ‘descriptive weight’.
  • For students to apply this in their own writing.

Begin by asking your asks students to discuss what ‘things’ are in this description:

In my room, there is an enormous swimming pool, and underneath one of the big windows there is an ice-cream machine.

Orientating a scene: prepositions in travel guides

Goals

  • To understand how prepositions construct meaning in a non-fiction text.
  • For students to apply this to their own writing.

What and how do prepositions mean?

Begin by showing your class a list of prepositions (or - even better - ask them to generate the list themselves). Display the list on the board, and ask: what do prepositions do and how do they do it? The discussion should arrive at the following conclusions:

Phonetics and phonology - The sounds of poetry

Looking at the importance of sound in a literary text

Sound patterns in poetry

Here are two extracts from the poem Digging by Seamus Heaney. In the poem, a son talks openly about his perceived failures in following in his father's footsteps, namely because of his lack of skill with a spade and as a farmer.

Read them out loud:

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down 

Tense and aspect in fiction

Exploring the use of tense and aspect in a range of literary texts

In this activity we will examine some short extracts from novels. The idea is to look at the tense and aspect forms used, and think about how they are used to unfold the action of the story.

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