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2 Manual para el alumno

Language Awareness activities

Jess Horacio Bez vila

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to
him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
Nelson Mandela (South African anti-apartheid revolutionary)
One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the
Frank Smith (contemporary English psychologist)
You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.
Geoffrey Willans (English author and journalist)

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Activity 1
Come up with a new word
Work in teams of five. As a team, invent a new word. It could be a word in English, but just for
this time, it will work better if the word is in Spanish so that you can best analyze your school

What kind of word is it?

Is it a noun? Is it a verb? Is it an adjective or adverb?
How do you spell it?
What does it mean?
How is it pronounced?
A word normally has a specific function. Sometimes people like to invent new
words so that they cannot be understood easily or to distinguish themselves as
part of a group. Words usually refer to people, objects, places and phenomena
around us.

Write your answers below:

Now start using your new word. Use it in the classroom, in the schools cafeteria or in the
halls, wherever it is appropriate. The purpose is that everybody can learn it and make it part
of their vocabulary. Do it for five days, then share your experience with the class.

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Activity 2
A new member in the family
The following exercise will help you see how a new word enters a language. This
phenomenon happens because of changes in society, technology, and scientific
You will need to have an Internet connection to do this exercise. Follow the
teacher's instructions carefully and do not get ahead of him.
1. Before doing the exercise, do some research and answer the following questions.
a. What is a linguistic corpus?
b. Why are corpora useful to study a language like English?
2. Visit the website:

Your screen should look like this:

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3. Once you have pressed the ENTER button, your screen will change to this:

In the highlighted section, change the way the results will be displayed to CHART. You will
type the word you want to search in the text field WORD(S). In this booklet, we will use the
word hip-hop as an example.
4. Type the word and click on the SEARCH button. The results should display in a bar chart.

Notice when the word hip-hop grew in popularity. It began being used in the
80s and in the 90s. Today virtually everybody knows its meaning and
associates it with music, entertainment, and fashion.

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Why does a word become popular?

Why did anyone not use it before?

Work with a partner. Write your answers in your notebook, then tell your

5. You can click on the bars to see the word being used in context. In the images below you
can see the results (also known as concordances) for the word hip-hop. You can click on the
list item (also known as concordance) to see when the word was used and a more complete
view of the context in which it was used.
6. Now it is your turn! Look up the following words in the TIME corpus and decide how they
were introduced in the English language.

the Internet (a worldwide network of computers)
miniskirt (piece of clothing)
reggaeton (music style)
video game

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Activity 3
1. Before reading the text about construction, do some research to answer the following

What types of text are there?

What type of text is the one below?
Where can you find a text like this one?
Does it use formal or informal language?

You can use the following link to help you: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/factsheet/en03texte3-f-different-types-of-text

2. Read the following text about construction. Then answer the exercises at the bottom.

Donn E. Hancher
University of Kentucky
The construction industry is one of the largest segments of business in the United States, with
the percentage of the gross national product spent in construction over the last several years
averaging about 10%. For 2001, the total amount spent on new construction contracts in the
U.S. is estimated at $481 billion [Engineering News Record, Nov. 19, 2001]. Of this total, about
$214 billion is estimated for residential projects, $167 billion for nonresidential projects, and
the rest for non-building projects.
Construction is the realization phase of the civil engineering process, following conception
and design. It is the role of the constructor to turn the ideas of the planner and the detailed
plans of the designer into physical reality. The owner is the ultimate consumer of the product
and is often the general public for civil engineering projects. Not only does the constructor
have an obligation to the contractual owner, or client, but also an ethical obligation to the
general public to perform the work so that the final product will serve its function
economically and safely.
The construction industry is typically divided into specialty areas, with each area requiring
different skills, resources, and knowledge to participate effectively in it. The area

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classifications typically used are residential (single- and multifamily housing), building (all
buildings other than housing), heavy/highway (dams, bridges, ports, sewage-treatment
plants, highways), utility (sanitary and storm drainage, water lines, electrical and telephone
lines, pumping stations), and industrial (refineries, mills, power plants, chemical plants,
heavy manufacturing facilities). Civil engineers can be heavily involved in all of these areas of
construction, although fewer are involved in residential. Due to the differences in each of
these market areas, most engineers specialize in only one or two of the areas during their
Construction projects are complex and time-consuming undertakings that require the
interaction and cooperation of many different persons to accomplish. All projects must be
completed in accordance with specific project plans and specifications, along with other
contract restrictions that may be imposed on the production operations. Essentially, all civil
engineering construction projects are unique. Regardless of the similarity to other projects,
there are always distinguishing elements of each project that make it unique, such as the type
of soil, the exposure to weather, the human resources assigned to the project, the social and
political climate, and so on. In manufacturing, raw resources are brought to a factory with a
fairly controlled environment; in construction, the factory is set up on site, and production
is accomplished in an uncertain environment.
It is this diversity among projects that makes the preparation for a civil engineering project
interesting and challenging. Although it is often difficult to control the environment of the
project, it is the duty of the contractor to predict the possible situations that may be
encountered and to develop contingency strategies accordingly. The dilemma of this situation
is that the contractor who allows for contingencies in project cost estimates will have a
difficult time competing against other less competent or less cautious contractors. The failure
rate in the construction industry is the highest in the U.S.; one of the leading causes for failure
is the inability to manage in such a highly competitive market and to realize a fair return on
Hancher, D. E. (2003). Construction. In W. F. Chen & J. Y. R. Liew (Eds.), The Civil
Engineering Handbook (2nd ed., p. 2785). Hawaii: CRC Press.
Improve your inferencing skills. Try to guess the meaning of unknown words
from context e.g. what part of speech is it? What does preceding and
following information suggest the unknown word might mean?
(Southampton, 2010)

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Exercise 1
Decide if the following statements are true or false. Justify your answers.
1. This text is about construction in the United States. (T) (F)
2. Conception, design and construction are part of the civil engineering process. (T) (F)
3. Dams, bridges, ports, sewage-treatment plants, and highways, are examples of utility
construction projects. (T) (F)
4. Many civil engineers are involved in residential projects. (T) (F)
5. In construction, the factory is set up on site. (T) (F)
Exercise 2
Underline ten examples of cognates in the text. Write them in your notebook.
A cognate is a word which is similar in form and meaning to a word in another
language because both languages are related. For example English bicycle
and Spanish bicicleta. Think, Why are there so many cognates between
English and Spanish?

Exercise 3

Your 10-year-old brother is curious about what you study in school. Write a short description
about construction and what is involved in it. Use the cognates that you identified in exercise
two to help you. Remember to keep it simple so that your younger brother can understand.


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When writing a descriptive text it is a good idea to:

use adjectives and adverbs

make comparisons

say how something feels, smells, looks, sounds, and tastes

How can you use what you have learned in this lesson when you take your
English classes or do homework?

Work with a partner. Write your answers in your notebook, then tell your


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Activity 4
What kind of English should I learn?
This is a question that every serious English student should ask at some point in their studies.
However, it is not always easy to decide. This activity will show you some of the most
important varieties of the English language and hopefully, help you decide what kind of
English you should learn.
English is widely spoken all over the world. It is estimated that there are 427
million people who have English as their first language, just second after
Mandarin Chinese.

David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language 3 rd. Edition

1. Listen to the text in six different accents. Raise your hand if you like the English you hear.

Arthur the Rat

As read in the alt.usage.english newsgroup (AUE) Audio Archive
Once there was a young rat named Arthur, who could never make up his mind. Whenever
his friends asked him if he would like to go out with them, he would only answer, "I don't
know." He wouldn't say "yes" or "no" either. He would always shirk making a choice. His
aunt Helen said to him, "Now look here. No one is going to care for you if you carry on like
this. You have no more mind than a blade of grass."
One rainy day, the rats heard a great noise in the loft. The pine rafters were all rotten, so that
the barn was rather unsafe. At last the joists gave way and fell to the ground. The walls shook
and all the rats' hair stood on end with fear and horror. "This won't do," said the captain. "I'll
send out scouts to search for a new home."
Within five hours the ten scouts came back and said, "We found a stone house where there is
room and board for us all. There is a kindly horse named Nelly, a cow, a calf, and a garden
with an elm tree." The rats crawled out of their little houses and stood on the floor in a long
line. Just then the old one saw Arthur. "Stop," he ordered coarsely. "You are coming, of

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course?" "I'm not certain," said Arthur, undaunted. "The roof may not come down yet."
"Well," said the angry old rat, "we can't wait for you to join us. Right about face. March!"
Arthur stood and watched them hurry away. "I think I'll go tomorrow," he calmly said to
himself, but then again "I don't know; it's so nice and snug here."
That night there was a big crash. In the morning some menwith some boys and girlsrode
up and looked at the barn. One of them moved a board and he saw a young rat, quite dead,
half in and half out of his hole. Thus the shirker got his due.

Barnes, M. (2014). AUE: The alt.usage.english Newsgroup. The Audio Archive: Arthur the
Rat. Retrieved June 08, 2014, from http://alt-usage-english.org/index.shtml

2. Answer the following questions:

a. What dialects of English did you hear?
b. Your teacher will identify the most popular variety of English in the classroom. What is it?
c. What are your conclusions?
To decide what English variety you should learn, take into account your plans
and potential opportunities. What kind of company would you like to work for?
Will you have plenty of chances to listen to British English in your workplace?
Choose what you think will work for you, in the end, all English dialects are
equal for communication. There is no dialect superiority!

3. An excellent way to learn a language is through imitation. Do some research on the

Internet and listen to different accents. Try visiting http://www.dialectsarchive.com/. Which
accent is your favorite? Is there a famous person with that accent? Why don't you try to
imitate them? Share your decision with the class.


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Activity 5
The dictionary
What is a dictionary? What kind of dictionaries are there? How can you use it effectively? This
activity will help you answer these questions.
A dictionary is an extremely useful tool which will allow you to become more
independent in your studies. Learning to use it will help you know the meaning
of words even when there is not a teacher in front of you! It usually has
grammar reference sections, extra exercises, illustrations, and even a
pronunciation guide. How can all of those resources help you complement your

Exercise 1:

Answer the following questions:

1. What kind of information can you find in the dictionary?
2. What is the disadvantage of using an abridged English-Spanish dictionary?
3. What is the advantage of using an English-English dictionary?
4. How can I know which meaning I need if a word has multiple meanings?
5. A word can be a verb and a noun, give an example.
6. How does a dictionary show the different meanings of a word?
7. What types of English dictionaries are there? Write a brief description of each one of them.
8. What is a word called in the dictionary?
9. How is a derived word formed?
10. What abbreviations does the dictionary use? What do they mean? Where in the dictionary
are they?
11. How is a compound word formed?
12. What are the parts of a dictionary?
13. What is the name of the alphabet which was designed to show the pronunciation of
14. What is a self-access laboratory?
Follow-up activities:
1. Visit a local library specialized in the English language so that you can see by yourself all
the reference books, dictionaries, magazines and media that are available for you. There are
at least two libraries of this kind in Mexico City:


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Biblioteca Benjamn Franklin
Liverpool 31, Col. Jurez, C.P. 06600, Mxico D.F.
Phone 5080-2089
Webpage: http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/bbf/biblioteca.htm
Opens Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 19:00
Biblioteca Britnica Pblica
Antonio Caso No. 127, Col. San Rafael, C.P. 06470, Mxico D.F.
Phone 3067-8817
Webpage: http://www.tamflibrary.org.mx/index.php?lang=ES
Opens Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 19:30 and Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00

2. Write the bibliographic record of three dictionaries of different kind. If it is allowed by the
library, take a picture for each cover. Write a brief description about the usefulness and
characteristics of each dictionary.
Organize the information as it is shown in the following example:


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Bibliographic record

A completely revised and updated edition of this best-selling language reference is now
available. It covers the core vocabulary of everyday life with over 75,000 clear, concise
definitions. It includes pronunciations, word origins and synonym lists, special sections and


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Activity 6
There's a problem with my food!
Read the following situation:
You are eating in the school cafeteria but theres something massively wrong with your food
(you name the problem). Four of you are sitting at a table when suddenly, the school principal
approaches you and asks you: How do you like your food? What will you say? How will you
say it?

Work in teams of 5. Write a conversation where you demonstrate the situation above. Each
team member has to speak and ideally, nobody should dominate the conversation. Take into
account that you will be talking to the school principal so, try to be polite.

Taken from: http://econwatson.blogspot.mx/2010_06_01_archive.html


How would the conversation change if you were talking to a friendly

teacher and not the school principal? And if you were talking to a friend?


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Activity 7
Online translators
1. Discuss the following questions with your class:
1. Do you know any online translator?
2. How often do you use them?
3. What are some advantages and disadvantages of using them?

2. Translate the following saying into English:

Camarn que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente

1. Use the Google translator: ...
2. Use the Bing translator: ...
3. Ask someone who knows English to help you:

Are the translations the same?

Are they grammatically correct?


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Tell your class.

The purpose of translation is to help people understand the meaning of what is

being said in a foreign language. Translation has helped different societies to
share knowledge and do business together, even when they dont share the
same language. However, exact equivalence is of course impossible.

David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language 3 rd. Edition

3. Individually, look for a short paragraph or poem in Spanish. Use an online translator of your
choice to translate it into the following languages:

From Spanish into English

From English into German
From German into Portuguese
From Portuguese into English
From English into Spanish

Copy both texts in the table below:

Original text (in Spanish)

Final version (from the translator)


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Compare the original text with the final version that the translator gives you. Discuss your
findings in small groups, then tell your class.
4. Answer the following questions:

Why no translation is accurate?

How can a dictionary help to avoid the problems of word-for-word translation?
Why should I avoid word-for-word translation?
Online translators have been very useful for many people. After doing this activity, give
suggestions on how to use them.
5. How can I apply what I learned in this activity in the English class and when studying at

There is no such thing as best translation. The success of a translation

depends on the purpose for which it was made

David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language 3 rd. Edition


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Activity 8
Structure and meaning
1. Discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups:

What is grammar?
Why is it important to study it?

Why is there always a grammar section in exams?

Why do teachers give too much emphasis to it?

Have a look at the following examples of an idea expressed in different languages and its
Spanish word-for-word translation:
Me duele la cabeza (tengo dolor de cabeza)

I have a headache
yo tengo un cabeza-dolor
jag har ont i huvudet
yo tengo mal en cabeza-la
der Kopf tut mir weh
La cabeza hace a mi mal
jai mal la tte
yo tengo mal en la cabeza
(u menja bolit golova)
en mi duele cabeza

After looking at the examples, would you say that the French or German speak
wrongly or differently?


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Write your conclusions:


By now you know that English uses auxiliary verbs to make questions and
negatives, e.g. Do you like dancing? No, I dont. That is one of its peculiarities,
a linguistic tradition different from Spanish.

2. Discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups. Then tell your class.

What is meaning?
Why is it important?

Write your conclusions:



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3. Have a look at the following phrase in English:

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

With the help of a dictionary, say what you think the sentence means.
Work in groups of three. Type or write the sentence (with large letters) on a separate
piece of paper. Interview an English teacher from your school; ask them to read the
sentence aloud and then say what they think it means.
Student: Read the sentence aloud, please.
Teacher: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
Student: What do you think it means?

Is grammar more important than meaning or are they equally important? Why?

Write your conclusions:


To be understood in English or any other language, it is important to take care

of your:

1. Grammar (the structure of your sentences)

2. Meaning (the choice of words you use to express your ideas)
3. Pronunciation (articulation of sounds)


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Activity 9
The most frequent words in English
Have you ever wondered what the most frequently used words in English are? Have a look at
the following list of the 25 most frequent words of spoken English:
Frequency* Word

12,653 so

39,457 the

12,641 was

39,114 I

12,526 is

38,147 and

11,666 we

30,822 you

10,951 know

27,106 to

10,892 have

23,372 a

8,977 just

22,864 that

8,803 they

20,997 it

8,617 its

18,067 of

8,543 what

13,169 like

8,509 but

12,916 in

8,490 this

12,785 yeah

8,440 do

* Frequency per million words

Reppen, R. (2010). The 25 most frequent words from a conversation corpus of one million
words. In J. C. Richards (Ed.), Using Corpora in the language classroom (Kindle Edi.).
Cambridge University Press.

Make sure that you know the meaning and pronunciation of those 25 words
since they are extremely common in everyday conversation.

1. Classify the words into content words and function words:


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Content words
Content words are words which refer to a
thing, quality, state, or action and which
have meaning when the words are used
alone: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and

Function words
Function words are words which have little
meaning on their own, but which show
grammatical relationships in and between
sentences: conjunctions, prepositions,

2. What kind of words are more frequent in conversational English? What is the reason for

When you read or listen to English, pay attention to the words above. How does
native speakers use them? Highlight them in a text or make notes in your
notebook. In that way, you will not only be learning frequent vocabulary but also
frequent grammar!

3. Use the words from the list to make as many sentences as possible.

4. Answer the questions your teacher will ask.


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Activity 10
I cant write in English and I dont know how to start
1. Work with a partner to discuss the following questions. Then tell your class.
1. Have you ever noticed how little children are able to communicate just with a few
2. Have you noticed that what they say is not grammatically correct yet adults understand?
3. How do they do it?

2. Pay attention to the PowerPoint presentation your teacher will show you. Write your notes,
questions and comments here:


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3. Write a short story about what you do on weekends or about something interesting or
important that has happened to you. Remember the information you learned in the
presentation, how can you use it to do this exercise?