Category Archives: Content: semantics

Tag Questions

Tag questions are concerned more with establishing interpersonal relations and suggesting whether some kind of response is required (or to close off any response), rather than requesting any specific information. Andersen (Andersen, Gisle. “Are tag questions questions? Evidence from spoken … Continue reading

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Matching Pairs exercises

A student the other day had difficulty with a textbook matching exercise. The prompt was: Are you watching the TV? The required option was: You can turn it off. I think the difficulty here was due to the incongruence of … Continue reading

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Conversation

Here’s a XKCD strip: It’s often said that you can’t ‘teach conversation’ yet I think this is only partly true. Of course it’s not possible to teach how to have a conversation, that comes naturally and unfolds as the situation and participants … Continue reading

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Metaphors of time and grammar

One of the most common EFL grammar lessons, especially at Beginner or Pre-Intermediate levels, is the ‘Present Continuous to Talk About Future Plans’ lesson. While this is an important usage for the present-in present and should be introduced at some … Continue reading

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Activity: Polite requests and grammatical metaphor

We often try to introduce students, especially in higher Elementary and Pre-Intermediate levels,  to ‘Could you …’ type polite requests  but I’ve found that textbooks do not always explain quite adequately exactly WHY one form is more polite than another. … Continue reading

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Activity: TPR, Directions and Interpersonal Semantics

Recently, I’ve been spending more time with lower level learners on the Interpersonal semantics of exchange. This is a short activity that tries to highlight the differences between giving/demanding information and giving/demanding service in a more physical way. It is … Continue reading

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Teaching Problem/Solution clause relations with Headway

There is an activity in New New Headway Upper Intermediate about things you’d miss when travelling (p.14, Tapescript 1.9 – sorry I don’t have the actual recording here cause of copyright). The listening activity as it is presented doesn’t go … Continue reading

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Finite

The Finite is the element that “brings the proposition down to earth, so that it is something that can be argued about” (H & M, p.115). This can be done in one of two ways: (i) tense and (ii) modality. … Continue reading

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Subject

The Subject is the item that is “being held responsible” (H & M, p.117) for the validity of the argument and is identifiable by the tag question. If we take the example: That teapot was given to your aunt, wasn’t … Continue reading

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Mood

For the clause as exchange, dialogue consists of four fundamental functions: statement, question, command and offer. The difference between them lies in the relationship of the Subject to the Finite. The Finite is the element that indicates either tense (is/was, … Continue reading

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