Adjusting Strength and Focus

Reflections on Language for Interacting With Others (Chapter 4) from Adjusting strength and focus (pp.125-142) by Beverly Derewianka


This part of chapter 4 evolves around adjusting the strength or focus of meaning and/or feelings. First of, we will look at intensifiers. An intensifier increase or decrease the force of a message by using:

  • Adverbs
    “I’m somewhat hungry”
    “You look extremely tired”
  • Adjectives
    “You are a complete fool.”
  • Nouns
    “What a stink!”
  • Verbs
    “I adore you.”


These words can either change intensity e.g., I am quite angry > I’m very angry > I’m extremely angry. Or change the force of the vocabulary item itself e.g. (From mild>medium>high)  I’m anxious > I’m nervous > I’m petrified. The force of a message can also be made less or more powerful by repeating, listing, quantifying or by changing/adding in terms of extend.

The chapter is also concerned with opening up spaces in the language, this is to avoid bare assertions and straightforward statements when interacting with others. We can do this by engaging the listener or reader in various ways:

  • inviting them to consider other perspectives
  • introducing other voices into the discourse
  • opening up (our closing down) spaces for negotiation
  • entertaining other possibilities


To introduce other perspectives and voices into the discourse, is to explicitly refer to what something else has to say about this topic. This attribution ranges from very vague to very specific:

  • Some say…
  • Derewianka states, that…
  • According to research…
  • The experiment showed…
  • He found that…


Modality – Probability

Modal auxiliaries are used to temper statements, as described in Cheat Sheet #1.  However, this function can also be expressed by modal adjuncts rather than the modal auxiliary (p.132): E.g. (High modality > Mid modality > Low modality) “Certainly > in all probability > maybe” or “Undoubtedly > apparently > allegedly”. Additionally, modality can be expressed through other grammatical resources:

  • Nouns
    • Possibility, probability, obligation, necessary, requirement
  • Adjectives
    • Possible, probable, obligatory, necessary, required, determined


Furthermore there are other words, that introduce a sense of indefiniteness, such as: Seems, appears and apparently.

Modality – Usuality

Absolute statements; Always / Never

Tempered: Usually, sometimes, usually

As an English language learner becomes aware of modality’s role, they can work more easily with the tenor of the context, because the use of modality depends on the context, meaning, that the usage of modality resources, can help empathise focus and meaning of the message.


Contracting the interaction space

These are some of my favourite and most hated words and phrases, as I am both a lover and I fighter – I guess – I’ve spent a great deal of time on aligning and arguing my statements… And despite the categorisation beneath, the tone of which the phrases are expressed, determines their validity or sarcasm.


  • As you would be aware…
  • We could agree that…
  • Of course…
  • Obviously…
  • Naturally…


  • The facts o the matter are…
  • We can only conclude that
  • It is absolutely clear to me…
  • My firm belief is…


  • Contrary to popular opinion…
  • Alternatively, we might consider…

Mounting an argument:

  • While we might agree that…
  • Although there is an argument for…
  • Even though we might concede that…
  • However, it must be recognised that…
  • On the other hand…
  • To no-one’s surprise, he lost the match…
  • Amazingly he got away with it….



Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA


Cheat Sheet #2

Reflections on Step-by-Step With Functional Grammar by Fiona Kettle-Muspratt, in the same style as the previous Cheat Sheet (#1), but this time focussed on processes, participants, circumstances, describers and qualifiers

The field of expressing language has ideational meaning. To figure out what is going on, functional grammar usually divides parts field  participants, processes and circumstances into colours (See beneath). In order to figure out which is which, the same three probe questions can be asked:

  • To find the participant(s):
    • “Who or what?”
  • To find the process(es):
    • “What is happening?”
  • To find the circumstance(s):
    • “Where, when, how, why?”


Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 16.31.34

(Figure, p. 11)


The Participants

  • Noun group
  • The people or entities involved
  • The participants can be:
    • Sensing (feeling) or experiencing something
    • The one acting in the sentence
    • Can be the receiver of an action (impacted or affected by)
    • Saying something
  • Participants are linked by processes realised by verbs


The Processes

  • Verbal group
  • Halliday identified 6 process types (2004) :
    • Material – processes of doing (work, arrest, erupt, climb, elect…) 
    • Relational – processes of being and having (be, have, stand …) 
    • Mental – processes of sensing and feeling (feel, think, wish, believe …) 
    • Verbal – processes of saying (say, tell, report, write, command, deny…) 
    • Behavioural – processes of human behaviour (sleep, cough, look, listen…) 
    • Existential – processes which are signalled by there, such as there is/there are


The Circumstances

  • Adverbial group
  • Any further details in the clause? Circumstances answers:
    • When
    • Why
    • Where
    • How


Kettle-Muspratt present this worksheet/grid concept, that can be extended to expose the students to the range of functional groups in the nominal group.

Here are some examples:

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 17.04.01.png


Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 17.10.41.png




Halliday, M.A.K. & Matthiessen, C.M.I.M.. (2004): Introduction to Functional Grammar  (3rd Edition). London: Arnold.

Kettle-Muspratt, F. (2009): Step-by-step With Functional Grammar.

Aims for EN1 (pre- & post)

My expected learning goals of EN1 have been divided into personal and professional (academic) goals. I hope that by the end of this module, I will be…

Personal goals:

  • Improving my English language
  • Having a greater sense of “me as an English teacher”
  • Obtaining a study-relevant job
  • Testing theory from the module (e.g., during the internship)

Professional goals:

  • Becoming familiar with functional grammar; participants, processes and circumstances
  • Receiving a better know-how about analysis of students’ texts


Retro-perspective on Learning Goals (Added: 28.05.2017)

I have reached the professional goals more or less, yet regarding my personal goals I have realised, that I have many more sub-goals linked to both gaining a greater sense of me as en English teacher and improving my English language e.g., I need to gain a better grammatical understanding (the name of word groups, sub-clauses, etc.) of the English language, in order to conduct thorough interlanguage analyses and to teach (in general). To meet this need, I created the Cheat Sheet #1 as one of my reflections. Otherwise, I felt like I should have attended more English classes to completely reach my professional goals, but as far as personal goals, I feel like I succeeded.

Text Analysis

Student’s text: A Resumé of How The Sun Came To Be

How The Sun Came To Be

The story is about a young woman. The woman have has been promised to be married with a man. She was gone for a long time. [Student left out important part, which could have aided with further understanding of the following sentence] When she arrived to a camp was there no food and no water. There was no place to sleep (fractioning sentences). The woman was hungry, thirsty and she was tired but the young woman has not given up because she felt that she was strong. And the woman went back to her own people. Afterwards the woman and her people walked over to a camp, where they sat down and ate food and drank some water. The young woman made a campfire (fractioning sentences). She made the campfire, and after the build she made it even bigger, so the people could be warm. So (missing: she) used the whole day building the campfire, so all the people could (missing: be) warm (repetition). After she saw that her people was happy. Her people was very grateful for the warmth, so they called her campfire the sun (missing: full stop)

Made by B.

Gibbons grid:

  • General comments
  • Text type
  • Overall organization (none)
  • Cohesion
  • Vocabulary
  • Sentence grammar
  • Spelling and punctuation
  • Presentation (none)



  • Feedback would be provided on mainly spelling and punctuation, and sentence grammar, on the basis that mistakes (wrong hypothesis) under these two categories are the most prevalent.
  • But also quick a comment on the overall meaning of the text, which fails when she leaves out an important part of the story.
  • Feedback given would include first and foremost corrections followed by examples of correct or improved sentence structure.
  • Feedback on sentence grammar could also correlate into the student improving on the cohesive mistakes she’s making in the text.


  • Pre-task activity that introduces the specific requirements of a resume (genre).

Cheat sheet #1

Reflections on Language for Expressing Ideas (chapter 2) in Beverly Derewianka’s book A New Grammar Companion (2015) and Bruntt & Bryanne’s text Interlanguage Analysis (2013)

This reflection aims to investigate and present the abbreviation used when talking about grammar teaching along with the actual meaning and usages of the different types. My biggest constraint towards becoming a language teacher is, that I never really became familiar with the word groups, nor the meaning of words like sub-clause, post modifier or suffix. THUS I finally decided to get my head around it, thus creating this text (reflection) as a ‘cheat sheet’ for myself to consult in the future.

Word Groups and Abbreviations:

•NG: Nominal/noun group

•VG: Verbal/verb group

•adjG: Adjectival/adjective group

•advG: Adverbial/adverb group

•prepG: Prepositional group

•S: Subject

•Aux: Auxiliary verb (used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. The primary auxiliary verbs in English are bedo, and have, but there are also modal auxiliaries, explained beneath) Auxiliary verbs (aux) + participle (p) (-ed) e.g.: Has (aux) walked (p), Have (aux) walked (p), Had (aux) hoped (p). Auxiliary verb + -ing participle e.g.: Is (aux) studying (p), Were (aux) + discussing (p), Was (aux) teaching (p) (Irregular particles can cause difficulties for English learners)

•Conj: Conjunctions (used to join a word, phrase or clause. The main conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.)

•SC: Subject Complement (typically as nominal sub-clause)

•C: Circumstantial (e.g. circumstantial sub-clauses; sub-ordinating conjunctions; if, because, as, although, where, while, until, since, when, in order to)

•PoM: Post-modifier (PoM inside an NG or AdjG as a relative sub-clause/pronoun e.g., who, which, whosethatwherewhen, why and how)

•PrM: Pre-modifier (a word, especially an adjective or a noun, that is placed before a noun and describes it or restricts its meaning in some way e.g., a loud noise)

•DO: Direct object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun that refers to a person or thing that is directly affected by the action of a verb)

•IO: Indirect object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun in a sentence, used after some verbs, that refers to the person or thing that an action is done to or for)


The simple present tense is the base form of the word +-s (or -es)-ending for he, she and it. Two of the most common verbs of the English language; be and have, are irregular in the present tense.

The simple past tense is typically formed by adding -ed to the base form. Many verbs, however, are irregular in the past tense. Examples:

Base form:                        Irregular simple past tense:
go                                        went
buy                                     bought
have                                   had

Many of the commonly used verbs are irregular in the past tense, Thus why past tense irregularities cause major problems for English learners.


Modal Verbs

Modal verbs (or modal auxiliaries) are auxiliary verbs that expresses necessity or possibility. I.e. Modal verbs  are auxiliaries that function to indicate the degree of certain surroundings or activities e.g. Might (modal auxiliary) enrol (base form), Must (modal auxiliary) read (base form). Modal verbs examples:

• must (permission or future possibility)

• shall (offer or suggestion)

• will (willingness, certain prediction or promise)

• should (advice or uncertain prediction)

• would (request, invitation or making arrangements)

• can (ability or request)

• could (past ability, suggestion or future possibility)

• may (necessity or obligation)

• ought to (what’s right and correct)

• might (present or future possibility)

Other auxiliaries
These are not strictly modals, but perform a similar function:

  • you need to pay
  • they have to leave
  • we had better hurry
  • we didn’t dare speak

Future time

Another auxiliary is “will”, which is generally used to indicate an action in the future as in these sentences from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings (example from Derewianka):

  • He will destroy Gondor.
  • I’ll go with Sam.
  • Elvish forlorn trees will grow there.

We often use multi-word verb groups, sometimes these are small words like prepositions and adverbs, that are added after the verb. E.g.  Wake up, sit down, get out, put up with, settle down, get away with, give up on, catch on, turn up, give in. This type of verb group is typically used in informal spoken contexts (Derewianka, p. 43).

Simply add not after the auxiliary. E.g. Could not, had not, is not. Negatives can also be contracted: Haven’t, Don’t, Didn’t, Weren’t, Doesn’t. The simple present and simple fast tense do not have auxiliaries, so we insert an auxiliary; E.g. Did not, does not, do not. The contraction of the negative in the future tense is irregular E.g. She will not eat her dinner becomes she won’t eat her dinner.

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. There are 8 different types of pronouns:

•Personal (Subject): I, You, He, She, It, We, You and They.

•Object: Me, You, Him, Her, It, Us, You, and Them.

•Adjective: My, Your, His, Her, Its, Our, Your, and Their.

•Possessive: Mine, Yours, His, Hers, Its, Ours, Yours, and Theirs.

•Demonstrative: This, That, These and Those.

•Interrogative Relative: Who, Whom, What, Which, Where and When.

•Indefinite: Someone, Somebody, Everyone, Everybody, Anyone, None, Few Many, etc.

•Reflexive Intensive: Myself, Yourself, Himself, Herself, Itself, Ourselves, Yourselves, and Themselves

A suffix is added to the end of a base word. A suffix changes the meaning of the word.

-er ending (a person who):







-er ending (more):









-ful ending (full of):








-less ending (without):








A prefix is added to the beginning of a base word. A prefix also changes the meaning of the word.

re- ending (again):





un- ending (not):





pre- ending (before):






dis- ending (opposite of/not):





de- ending (opposite):






Bruntt & Bryanne (2013), Handbook for Language Detectives; Interlanguage analysis. SAMFUNDSLITERATUR, ISBN: 978-87-593-1573-6

Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA

When Teaching Discourse Markers

Reflections on Discourse Markers 157 (pp. 139-145) by Michael Swan in Practical English Usage (2005)

This reflection presents one practical suggestion when scaffolding for students when learning about discourse markers. My group and I prepared a pre-, during- and post activities on the basis of the Discourse Markers part of Swan’s book Practical English Usage. The pre-activity consisted of orienting themselves in the grid from corresponding grid on page 153-154 in Derewianka’s book A New Grammar Companion, to make them realise that different authors (and teachers for that matter) might organise the discourse markers in different categories – still the same types of discourse markers together – but with different headlines and a variation of amount of categories. Swan divides the discourse markers into 21 different categories, whilst Derewianka only presents 6 overall categories. The during-activity asked the individual student to write one example of a discourse marker to each of the 21 categories, whilst reading the chapter in Swan’s book. As a post-activity, we divided the students into 4 groups, presenting them with a new grid of 8 discourse marker categories – a middle group – comparing the two different books – see grid beneath.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 13.11.24

Each group would then have to focus on two categories, e.g., Adding examples and Sequencing examples. They were given 10 minutes to find the corresponding discourse markers within their own internship reports within the given categories. Then discussing with the rest of the group what the usage of those types of discourse markers did for the context of their reports/the language, and finally – in a padlet – they added their examples along with the highlights from their discussion. Then all groups were split up and new groups was formed to have at least one representative from the previous groups in each. Now they had a few minutes to present their findings to the rest of their new groups.

The goal of using a padlet was to enable the students to save their ‘corporative notes’ for further use, whilst working in groups enforced learning through peer-to-peer teaching. Finally, the purpose of having them find the discourse markers in their own text, was to created relatedness and practical relevance for each individual student – this succeeded to a certain degree – one student added the fact that their internship reports were in English, which made the task pointless to him. Which really just empathises the importance of honest evaluation, because we cannot change what we don’t acknowledge.


Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA

Swan, M. (2005): Practical English Usage. OXFORD

Om Pædagogik (og Immanuel Kant)

Blogindlæg til KLM om Immanuel Kants indflydelse på den pædagogik vi kender idag.

I oplysningstiden frigjorde pædagogikken sig mere og mere fra religionen, da mennesket blev set som et selvstændigt væsen i stand til at forme sig selv og sin egen verden. Denne udvikling gjorde pædagogik og opdragelse til samfundslivet brændpunkt. Den tyske filosof Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1840) udgav flere værker om erkendelsesteori, pligtetik og moral, bl.a. Kritik af Den Rene Fornuft (Kritik der reine Vernuft) der gjorde ham særligt berømt for hans kategoriske imperativ. Kant så mennesket som et sanseligt menneske, underlagt alle den empiriske verdens nødvendigheder, samtidigt med, at han (metafysisk) forankrede dets frihed og menneskelighed i en transcendental sfære, der lå hindsides tingsverdenen (Lyhne, 2015). Dog er pædagogikken ikke på nuværende tidspunkt en selvstændig disciplin og han er ikke direkte omkring opdragelse i hans værker, men i bogen Om Pædagogik (Über Pädagogik), der bygger på hans forelæsninger i 1770’erne og 1780’erne, som er udgivet af hans tidligere elev, teologen Friedrich Theodor Rink året før Kants død, tilslutter sig sin franske kollega Claude-Adrien Helvétius’ udtalelse “Opdragelse gør os til det, vi er” ved ordene “Mennesket er intet andet end det, som opdragelse gør det til”.  Hans tanker om pædagogikken gør op med den gamle skole, der er baseret på udenadslærer i religiøse og antikke tekster, ved istedet for at sætte hele mennesket i centrum. Mennesket er et naturvæsen, som skal hæve sig til et fornuftsvæsen og herved gennem sin moralitet, der hverken stammer fra religion eller naturen, bekræfte sin frihed (Lyhne, 2015).

Yderemere siges det at demokrati er sigtet for Kants politisk-pædagogiske skrifter, og at al uddannelse skal sigte på at gøre mennesket til verdensborger (Kemp, 2007) i.e., at al undervisning må indgå i en kosmopolitisk ramme – man skal lære at leve i verden (Kornholt, 2013). Kant forestillede sig en slags verdensregering mellem demokratier, der kunne sikre freden. I den sidste del af det 18. århundrede begyndte flere grupper af mennesker at bevæge sig, og de fleste var ikke længere fastholdt på det sted, de var blevet født – derfor kom der nye krav til det, at være borger i et samfund, og derfor blev pædagogikken vigtig (Kemp, 2007). Kants konkretisering af verdensborgerskab er i takt med globaliseringen måske mere relevant end nogensinde. Peter Kemp, tidligere professer i filosofi ved Danmarks Pædagogiske Universitet siger, at verdenborgertanken skal være horisont for al opdragelse og uddannelse, og at Kants pædagogiske filosofi derfor er helt central netop nu (2007).


Kemp, Peter (2007): Verdensborgeren som pædagogisk ideal – pædagogisk filosofi for det 21. århundrede. Hans Reitzels Forlag

Kornholt, Britta et al. (2013): KLM på tværs – sociologiske, historiske og filosofiske perspektiver. Samfunds Litteratur

Lyhne, Vagn (2015): Om Pædagogikken – af Immanuel Kant. Forlaget Klim