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Teaching language for communication: an action-oriented approach. Mark Hancock. For video of authors Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald explaining principles behind course book “English Result”, see: http://www.oupeltpromo.com/englishresult/. An action-oriented approach.

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teaching language for communication an action oriented approach

Teaching language for communication: an action-oriented approach

Mark Hancock

For video of authors Mark Hancock and Annie McDonald explaining principles behind course book “English Result”, see: http://www.oupeltpromo.com/englishresult/

an action oriented approach
An action-oriented approach

Presenting the subject matter so that students can see that it is action (communication) as opposed to just knowledge (of a system of rules)

Teaching a balanced syllabus which includes various communicative language competences, not just words and grammar.

The grammar ladder approach:

sees the teacher’s responsibility as being “to build up the learner’s knowledge of grammatical structure from the simple to the complex and vocabulary from the most common to the less common items, seeing their use as entirely the responsibility of the individual learner.”

An action-oriented approach:

attempts “to define the minimum that a language learner should know and be able to do in order to move as an independent agent in the foreign language environment…”

(Quotes from article by John Trim describing how he and his team developed “Threshold” in: http://www.englishprofile.org/ )


Text organization: paragraph structure

“People who take unnecessary risks shouldn't receive free health care”.

(extract from essay – 3rd paragraph out of 4)

Personally, I disagree with this point of view because it's difficult to say exactly what is risky and what is not. For instance, not doing enough exercise is probably more risky than skiing in the long term. So it isn't fair to give free health care to an inactive person and make the skier pay.

A paragraph plan…

a. State a fact or argument.

b. Show what you mean,eg give an example

c. State the implications of the fact or argument.

  • Which step is missing?
  • Not all medical treatment is really necessary for the health of the patient. The taxpayer should not have to pay the costs of such treatment.
  • There are some aspects of health care which are not covered by the national health system. For instance, in my country, dental work is not covered.
  • For example, fire-fighters take risks, but they are necessary risks. Obviously, these people should receive free medical treatment if they are hurt on the job.

Pragmatic force: interpreting signs and notices…

Danger of Suffocation

I bought a new TV the other day and as I removed the various layers of packaging from the product, I noticed this warning on a large plastic bag, "To avoid suffocation, keep away from children". Since reading this message, I've been so worried that I've been keeping away from children in order to avoid being suffocated.

Keep away from children.

Do not wash in hot water

We don’t change underwear

Shoes are required to eat inside





Fine for littering!

Empty when full

No exit for passengers

Remove top before standing in microwave

Now serving live lobsters


Level of formality: mixed messages…

Sorry to trouble you. Would you mind answering a few questions?

Stand up straight!

In you go!

Sorry to keep you waiting. Would you like to come through now?

Would you mind stepping this way please?

Stop right there!


Tactfulness: refusing invitations

Des and Jen are teenagers working in a burger bar...

Des: Are you doing anything tonight?

Jen: Oh, well I'm a bit busy actually…

Des: I'm going to see 'Bats' at the cinema.

Would you like to come?

Jen: I'd like to but I can't. I've got to study

for an exam.

Des: Oh come on! I bet you'll enjoy it! I'll

collect you from your house at 7:30.

Jen: That's very kind of you, but really…

Des: Ok, I'll wait and we can go tomorrow. Jen: I'm sorry, but I'm meeting some friends


Des: Ok, will you go out with me next week?

Jen: I'll think about it, ok? Can I help you?

Oh no – I think he wants to ask me out!

I'd rather eat mud!

If you come near my house, I'll call the police!

I’d prefer to sit in a box of fish!


Politeness: a respectful email…

Dear Antonia

I hope you are home safely. I had a great time away, and I was delighted to find a lovely box of chocolates in my room when I got back! Thank you very much for those. Was everything OK for you here in the hall of residence? Were you comfortable in my room? The campus is very pleasant this time of year, isn't it? Did you have chance to explore the town?

I'm sorry to bother you with this, but I've got a couple of questions for you. Did you use my computer while you were here? It's fine if you did, but I'm a bit worried because whenever I switch it on, I keep getting a strange error message, and my files seem to have been erased. Don't worry - fortunately, I've got back up copies, but I was wondering if you’d had a problem with the computer?

My other question is about the key to the laundry room. As you know, I normally keep the key on a hook behind the wardrobe door, but I can't seem to find it. Do you know where it might be?

Well, that's all for now. I hope that we may actually meet one day - maybe next year?

All the best


Hey Toni - what on earth have you done to my computer?! I'm sick to death of these error messages and my files have all disappeared. And another thing - where have you put the key to the laundry room? I've been searching high and low for it! Asha


Formal register: public notices…

In order to help us improve our service, guests are kindly requested to complete the feedback form.

You are cordially invited to join us in celebrating the wedding of Joseph Brice and Linda Jarvis, to be held at

Walkers and climbers are kindly requested to remove their boots before entering.

Delegates are warmly invited to join us for an opening cocktail in the lobby, Weds 8pm

Visitors are kindly requested to leave coats and umbrellas in the cloakroom located near the main entrance.

Passengers requiring lunch are invited to make their way to the restaurant car.

Formal announcements…

1 often use verbs in the passive. are requested

2 sometimes use adverbs. kindly

3 often use a plural noun. guests

a. to show who is being addressed.

b. to make it less personal by not mentioning who is announcing.

c. to show how something is said, as a substitute for tone of voice.