Sunday, January 19, 2014

Discovering Patterns

Thanks to recent reading on the topic of "grammaring", I have a much better feel for how to discover (and help learners discover) language patterns in whatever text we're using.

We had some unusually frigid weather around here recently, so my higher level class had a couple of unplugged lessons about the extreme cold. We looked at part of a news article and analyzed the language used to describe cold, icy conditions, and changing temperatures.  Learners then looked at other news articles and discovered a lot of repeated language (treacherous conditions, black ice, temperatures plunging).  They also found a pattern: when talking about general weather conditions, the word "temperature" is used in the plural. The singular is reserved for talking about a specific measurement.

What's the temperature?  It's 46.
We'll see rapidly falling temperatures this evening.

Between lessons, I used COCA to examine some of the language we uncovered and I tried to include some of what I found in the next lesson.  I had limited preparation time and I lack experience, so I didn't go as far as I wanted to (discovery activities using examples from the corpus) but when I get some time I'll return and work out what I might have done!

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