Today’s theme is the use … the correct use … of discourse markers.
Furthermore, speakers MUST NOT say ‘like’ or ‘kinda’.
It is a pet peeve of mine to hear people interrupt the flow of a conversation with the unnecessary and incredibly irritating application of the word ‘like’ as a … totally incorrect … discourse marker [or discourse particle]. To illustrate, at a previous centre, a centre with a very prestigious reputation, I heard some US teachers say the following:
“I went out last night and had, like, two beers.”
“Are you looking for, like, an apartment
This filters down to the students, some of whom deliberately say ‘like’, because they think it makes them sound American and cool. I correct that misconception; it makes them sound that they are unable to complete a simple sentence. When I notice this as a problem, I tell the student to listen to themselves and count how many times they use ‘like’ erroneously.
And so, to work …
Practice how to speak fluently and with the correct use of linking words. For example:
however // having said that // although
firstly // following that // after that // and then finally
Just a minute
Students must speak for a minute with no deviation, hesitation or repetition.
Students can select a subject and then ask another student or team to speak for a minutes. Otherwise, choices could be:
books // local food // foreign food // clothes shopping // music // siblings //
You meet a fellow traveller at the airport when your flight is delayed. Make small talk conversation including idioms and expressions.
To make this more of a competition, award two points for every idiom, one for every expression, and additional points for discourse markers.
Topics can be:
Talk about the flight. How bad the airline is, frequently late. Do they fly often ?
Introduce yourself. Why are they flying ? Business or pleasure ?
Ask about work – do they like it ? Where do they work ?
Ask about family … but not too personal
Ask about where they live
REMEMBER to react, and to use stress and intonation.
Oh, really // how interesting // tell me more // where is that exactly ? // Oh, right // Me too ! // I had a similar experience //
You have plans to go to a new restaurant but one of you can’t make it because something turned up. Apologise and give the reason why you must change the plan. Offer alternative suggestions.
Hello, Sharma ? I’m so sorry, I can’t make it tonight.
Sharma will ask why. Give your reason
Have to work late // family member is ill // have an exam tomorrow // missed bus // not feeling well // have to attend a family event //
In the UK we try to hide our emotions, keep a stiff upper lip, but sometimes people can get angry. Repeat the exercise, but this time, the person waiting is in a bad mood.
Now the person waiting does not accept your excuse.
This the the third time you’ve cancelled ! // I’ve already been waiting 30 minutes // You only tell me NOW ! // I don’t care, get here now or never call me again ! //
How could you apologise and offer to make it up to her ?
Today’s blog, or activity sheet, is about persuasion; the ability to change someone’s opinion or make them do what YOU want THEM to do. This is known as having ‘the gift of the gab.’
This skill is mostly associated with salesmen who, without cheating or lying, make their product sound so wonderful that you simply HAVE TO buy it … and then you get home and realise you have parted with your hard-earned money for something you don’t want, don’t need and will never use.
Before we kick off, let’s roll out some new expressions:
One born every minute = negative, means that the person is an idiot, who bought something useless.
He/She saw you coming = negative, means the seller thought you would buy the poor quality item or pay too much for it.
Paid over the odds = negative, means paying too much for something.
Could sell sand to an Arab = positive, means the seller is so persuasive, he could sell anything to anyone (here, people who live in the desert do NOT need to buy sand).
Unique = positive, only one or something totally different and special.
You paid £50 for that shirt ? He must have seen you coming !
The hotel was $75, I think I paid over the odds.
She’s such a great seller, she could sell sand to an Arab.
I can’t believe he though it was a real Rolex watch … for €30. Oh well, there’s one born every minute !
Mr Paul’s Wonderfully useful store
Here, you can find all sorts of incredibly useful and wonderful items.
The students have to practise their selling and persuasive skills, in order to sell these … ‘wonderful’ … items. As always, an example:
One grey sock
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up, I have an absolute unique items for you. As you see, I have, just today ONLY, one beautiful delightful almost never-used silver-coloured sock, perfect for men, women or even children, yes, they can grow into it !
This amazing item, one of a kind, can be used for so many things, for example … have crying children ? Simply put the sock on your hand and … a PUPPET ! Guaranteed to stop all tears. Been shopping and have so many dirty, heavy coins ? No problem, simply put the coins in the sock. Having a party ? What would look better than this magnificent sock hanging proudly above the door ? Can use it for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Tet Holiday, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Birthdays, Weddings … you name it … You CANNOT live without it …
You can have this priceless item for just £100 … OK, to you, today only … £75
Now … your turn
Write a ‘sales pitch’ for one of these items, think of some uses for it, then set a price. Try to convince your classmates to buy your unique item.
Some ideas for uses are at the end of the blog
Tips and ideas:
teabag – mint tea – gets rid of spiders & mice : put on eyes to reduce puffiness
I use this sheet for many classes, usually for personality adjectives, as well as occupations. It’s adapted from a class I took at International House, London.
For higher level classes, you could also use this to illustrate the adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’
The students have to guess the personality of my friends, just by looking at them; their expressions, posture, dress sense, hair style etc. Then they have to try to guess the occupation.
This is a great way to introduce new vocabulary and job titles. Additionally, students can learn that many adjectives are not necessarily positive or negative, for example ‘serious’. Being serious could be very positive (in a professional context) but negative in other situations.
I’ve put some sample adjectives and jobs after the last photo, as well as the answers to their current occupations.
estate agent / plumber / DJ / mechanic / bouncer / surgeon / accountant / actor / cook or chef / removal man / insurance agent / bank clerk / detective / business man barista / lawyer / shop manager / unemployed / slacker
NB: The correct terms are now business-person and removal-person
Use this as a basic for building complex sentences
EXAMPLE: In my opinion, Peter, who is the first gentleman, has a white-collar job, such as banking, insurance or management. I say this because of the way he’s dressed, a suit and tie. Furthermore, he is extremely well groomed by which I mean his hair is very neat as well as being clean-shaven. He appears very diligent. I’m positive he works hard, sometimes burning the candle at both ends.
Peter is unemployed. He has an MA in Business Studies and is currently looking for work, so he is sending out his CV and photo.
David is a DJ
Alex is an actor. He is also a Buddhist so normally has shaven hair. However, he is very big and strong, so he gets cast as gangsters or bad men, despite being very gentle and soft-spoken in real life.
Victor is a self-employed plumber.
Simon is a doctor. He is highly professional and serious, but is seen here on holiday, after a few sangrias (wine cocktails). Someone took a photo with a flash, so his eyes look wide and big.