ELT Materials

ELT Materials: Activities and Ideas

This page offers ideas and activities for teaching spoken British English developed for English Language Teaching. Some of these include fully-developed lesson plans, others are ideas for shorter additional activities that can be used to complement other materials used in the class.

The teaching materials focus on current and new trends in spoken English, drawing on research based on a recent corpus of British English, the British National Corpus 2014. These materials are designed to assist learners of English, who may not have regular access and exposure to current spoken English, with developing their speaking skills and learning about how language use changes according to the context and speakers. The activities use BNClab, an online platform developed at Lancaster University, which works with 10 million words from two large corpora, the British National Corpus and the British National Corpus 2014, to allow students to learn from patterns in current spoken British English as well as to explore the effect of social factors such as gender, age, social class and region on the communication of British English speakers. BNClab can be accessed here or you can find it at this web address: corpora.lancs.ac.uk/bnclab. 

If you have any questions, comments or to get password to access password-protected teacher notes for the activities, please email Dr Dana Gablasova at d.gablasova@lancaster.ac.uk. 



What are the trends in current spoken British English and how do they differ from English as it used to be spoken twenty years ago?  Materials in this section focus on current and new directions in spoken English such as the trends in the use of grammar, vocabulary and communicative strategies. 

Changing pronouns: Understanding singular they This handout focuses on patterns found in current informal conversation of English speakers in the UK. In particular, we are going to address the use of singular they, a feature that is very common in current spoken English. The student worksheet can be downloaded here; teaching notes are available here
Changing pronouns: How to express ‘plural you’ in current English? 

When we look at how pronouns are used by British English speakers in their communication today, we can see some interesting patterns and changes developing over time. The worksheet draws on the findings and examples from five million words in the British National Corpus 2014 to demonstrate the current patters in the use of pronouns; in particular, it focuses on how English speakers in the UK express plural you in their informal conversations. The student worksheet can be downloaded here  and teaching notes here

How do people talk about Christmas in spoken British English?

Christmas is one of important traditions in the United Kingdom and thus, naturally, it gets mentioned in informal conversations. In this worksheet, we are going to look at how people talk about Christmas and which topics they speak about. While talking about Christmas, we are going to explore the most common vocabulary and collocations related to the topic using examples and data from the British National Corpus 2014. The student worksheet can be downloaded here, the answer key here



What are typical features of spoken communication in current English? These materials focus on features typical for spoken conversations, focusing both on speaking and listening skills. They also focus on the fact that not all language users speak the same, so the materials will also look at the differences between younger and older people, men and women and speakers from different social and educational background. 

How do fictional conversations differ from real speech? 

Informal spoken communication has various characteristics that make it different from other types of communication  such as written or online discourse.  Contrasting fictional representations of spoken language, from a novel and a TV series, with real conversations between English native speakers from the British National Corpus 2014 can help learners identify typical characteristics of spoken communication in English. Student worksheet can be downloaded here and teacher notes here.  The dialogue extracts can be downloaded here

Speaking English fluently: What does  spoken English really look like? 

Fluency in speaking refers to how continuous the spoken production is and how effortlessly it flows. This worksheet looks at issues in the fluency of spoken English that make speech less fluent such as hesitations, repetitions of words and phrases or dealing with vocabulary gaps. Such features are often believed to be typical of learner language, indicating problems with the ability to keep an uninterrupted flow of speech. As a result, some learners may feel self-conscious about the presence of these disfluencies in their speech, making them less confident at speaking and less willing to take part in conversations. However, it is useful to realise that all speakers, whether native speakers or learners of English, are disfluent sometimes and that such disfluencies are very common in spoken communication in general. Student worksheet can be downloaded here and the notes for teachers here

Why do people use swearwords in spoken English? 

Many people associate the use of swearwords with the intention to cause offence. However, the role of swearwords is much more complex than this. This handout explores different functions of swearwords in information conversations in English. It uses findings and examples from the British National Corpus 2014 to teach students about how common swearing is in spoken English, who uses swearwords and what role swearwords play in spoken communication. The worksheet can be downloaded here and teaching notes here. 

Should we actually teach about swearing in English language classes? This short blog post explores different aspects of this issue and explains the motivation for teaching resources that help students understand how swearwords are used in spoken British English and what social and linguistic messages they convey. 

Swearing in English: Understanding   the f-word

This worksheet focuses on the use of the most frequent swearword in the English language. The aim is to help students understand the different ways in which the swearword may be used and the situations in which they can encounter it. It helps students to interpret the social and linguistic message conveyed by the swearword. 




Materials in this section focus on crucial skills in spoken communication, such as expressing viewpoints and discussing them politely. 

How to disagree politely in spoken English?  People disagree very often with each other in everyday communication; in fact, disagreeing is a very common and important part of expressing our opinions and sharing them with others. While it is important to express our opinions, disagreeing with others can have negative impact on people’s social relationships. Using findings and examples from the British National Corpus 2014 and the Trinity Lancaster Corpus, this worksheet focuses on different strategies which can help speakers to disagree with other politely. The student worksheet can be downloaded here and teaching notes here
Expressing opinions/Taking a stance