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Analysing language and anticipating problems


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  • 1. Analysing language andanticipating problems Jo Gakonga CELTA trainer
  • 2. What is ‘analysing language’?
  • 3. WHY analyse language?To find out how simple or complex an area oflanguage is…
  • 4. WHY analyse language? To enable us to anticipate problems studentsmay have and so to avoid unnecessaryproblems when introducingthe language…
  • 5. WHY analyse language?To enable us to correct students’ mistakes andto answer their questions about language
  • 6. WHAT do we analyse?
  • 7. Problems can arise because:• meaning is very complex, abstract or otherwise difficult to grasp• this concept does not exist in the student’s own language• a different meaning in std’s own language produces ‘L1 interference’• the language item has more than one meaning in English
  • 8. Problems can arise due to:• word order• grammatical rules e.g. use of auxiliary verbs, 3rd person ‘s’ etc.• the part of speech (adjective, adverb etc.)• regular vs. irregular (e.g. past simple, -ing forms etc.)• spelling• over-generalisation of the rule
  • 9. Problems can arise due to:• student’s own language produces interference• spelling vs. pronunciation – silent letters etc.• Contractions (eg I’ve) and weak forms (eg could have = /әv/) etc.• word or sentence stress• intonation
  • 10. the purpose of the speakerhow and for what the language item is used (e.g. for givingadvice, making an offer, giving permission, speculating etc.) where, when and with whom itcan be used• register – formal, informal or neutral• how colloquial (or fashionable?) or specialised it is• whether it is written or spoken
  • 11. Solutions• Present language in a clear situation• Give clear, simple explanations• Check meaning systematically• Do your research!
  • 12. I wish I had more time.Meaning:
  • 13. I wish I had more time.Meaning:I want more time (now or in the future)I don’t have enough time nowI’m unlikely to get more time
  • 14. I wish I had more time.Concept checksDo I want more time now? (Yes)Do I have enough time now? (No)Do I think I’ll get more time in the future? (probably not)
  • 15. I wish I had more time.Form: I wish I had more time.Subject + wish +(that)+ subject + simple past tense(There are two subjects and two verbs because there are two clauses)
  • 16. I wish I had more time.Form: Anticipated problem: We use the simple past tense BUT the meaning is the present or the future BECAUSE the situation is unlikely or impossible.
  • 17. I wish I had more time.Pronunciation: Anticipated problem:had = /hӕd/It can’t be contracted to I’d because it’s the mainverb in this clause, NOT an auxiliary.Stress – I wish I had more time
  • 18. SOME SUGGESTIONSDo your own analysis first – examine the language before you consult agrammar book. Then check with a grammar book that you find clear andaccessible.Check in your course book. Some course books have very user-friendly’grammar sections.Sometimes looking at books designed to help students with grammar pointsmay help you when you start out – e.g. Raymond Murphy’s ‘English Grammarin Use’Do grammar exercises yourself first as if you were a student – then try toexplain your choice of answer to yourself before you try it out on thestudents!
  • 19. Grammar reference books – some useful titles• Practical English Grammar, M. Swan, OUP• Grammar for English Teachers. M.Parrott• Teaching English Grammar, What to teach and how to teach it. J.Scrivener.• Teaching Tenses. R.Aitken• English Grammar in Use, R. Murphy, CUP