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Top Tips for the CD-ROM
MED CD and functional
language

onestopenglish.com

Top Tips for the CD-ROM
MED CD and functional language
by Mairi MacDonald

The Macmillan English Dictionary contains over 800 usage and language notes (called 'editorial notes' on the CD-ROM), twelve of which deal with functional language. It's easy to find these notes on the CD-ROM as well as copy and paste this material so you can adapt it for your class. Even if your students don't have access to a copy of the dictionary, you can quickly create worksheets to supplement any lesson on functional language.

1 Functional language

The functional notes in MED provide common phrases and a short explanation covering issues such as register and style. The context in which the phrases are used is presented in example sentences.

These example sentences can be used as a basis for identifying fixed phrases and studying their structure. They can also provide students with a template for experimenting with their own sentences.

The functional notes cover the following topics. The headword where the note can be found is given in brackets.

• giving advice (advice)
• expressing agreement (agree)
• apologizing (apologize)
• saying I don't know (know)
• saying no (no)
• giving your opinion (opinion)
• asking and giving permission (permission)
• persuading someone to do/not to do something (persuade)
• suggesting something (suggest)
• expressing certainty (sure)
• warning someone (warn)
• saying thank you (thank you)

2 Finding functional notes

To find the functional notes, either go directly to one of the headwords listed above or use SmartSearch to browse the complete set. To do this, click on SmartSearch and leave the search box empty. Tick More search options and select Editorial notes. Click on Functional Note, then press Go. The complete list of entries containing a functional note will be listed in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen.


Once you have selected a headword, the note will appear to the right of the entry. Click on the small box immediately after Functional Note in the orange title bar. Select Edit and Copy. You can now paste the contents of this window directly into a word processing document.

3 Classroom activities

There are many ways you can use this information to create classroom activities. Here are a few suggestions.

Activity 1 Asking and giving permission

Activity 1A Identifying functional language

Procedure: Ask the students what functions the following sentences have. Students underline the phrases that ask for permission, then mark the phrases that grant permission with an asterisk (*).

Activity 1A Identifying functional language

Decide what function each of these sentences has. Underline the phrases that ask for permission, and mark the phrases that grant permission with an asterisk (*).

1 Can I take your car to work tomorrow?
2 You can take the big bag as well if you like.
3 'Can I bring my bike inside?' 'Of course you can, there's plenty of space.
4 Would it be all right if I turned the radio off?
5 'May I take a bath?' 'Sure, go right ahead. There's plenty of hot water.'
6 Do you mind if I open a window?
7 May I use the phone?
8 Guests may only use the dining room after 6.30 pm.
9 'Is there any more bread?' 'Help yourself. It's in the kitchen.'
10 'Could I stay the night at Ann's?' 'I don't see why not, so long as you're home before lunch tomorrow.'

See answers

Activity 1B Thinking about function

Procedure: Students decide which of the phrases from Activity 1A correspond to the explanations.

Activity 1B Thinking about function

Decide which of the phrases in Activity 1A correspond to the explanations below (a-i).

explanations phrases
a the most usual and general way of asking permission  
b used informally for making someone feel comfortable about doing something  
c used informally, especially when talking about food or drink  
d used for showing you do not want to interrupt or annoy someone  
e a more formal and polite way of asking permission  
f a more formal and polite way of giving permission  
g used for showing that you are happy for someone to do something  
h the most usual and general way of giving permission  
i used when you cannot see any reason to prevent someone from doing something  

See answers

As a follow up, elicit a dozen or so sentences starting with Can I?, Do you mind if I? Would it be all right if I ...? etc. In pairs, students take it in turns to ask and grant permission. It might be an idea to introduce some pronunciation work at this point to help students sound more natural.

Activity 2 Saying thank you

Activity 2A Identifying register

Procedure: Students read the phrases and decide whether they are used in informal or formal situations. Students then match the explanation with the relevant sentence.

Activity 2A Identifying register

Read these phrases and decide whether they are used in informal or formal situations. Then match the explanations (1-8) below with the correct sentences (a-h).

1 thanks (a lot)
2 that's very kind of you
3 you've saved my life
4 ta/cheers
5 thanks a bunch
6 you shouldn't have
7 I'd like to thank...
8 many thanks

1 thanks (a lot) a used when making a formal speech
2 that's very kind of you b used ironically, when someone has not helped you at all
3 you've saved my life c a more informal way of saying thank you
4 ta/cheers d the most usual way of saying thank you
5 thanks a bunch e an informal way of saying thank you, used when someone has helped you in a difficult situation
6 you shouldn't have f a formal way of saying thank you, used when writing letters
7 I'd like to thank... g a formal way of saying thank you, often used when refusing an invitation
8 many thanks h used when someone gives you a present

See answers

Activity 2B Selecting the appropriate context

Procedure: When students have completed Activity 1B, they fill in the gaps in the sentences.

Activity 2B Selecting the appropriate context

Complete the sentences using the following phrases.

that's very kind of you   you shouldn't have   I'd like to thank...
thanks a bunch   you've saved my life   thanks a lot  
many thanks   cheers

1 __________ for all your help.
2 __________, Mrs Wilson, but I'm afraid we've already arranged to have lunch in town.
3 Oh, thanks, John, __________! She was just about to ask me for my homework.
4 __________, mate! I'll buy the drinks next time.
5 'You could always join us later.' 'Yeah, __________, just when all the food is finished.'
6 Oh, __________! These flowers are beautiful.
7 __________my mother, my father, and all those who've helped me over the years
8 __________ for the lovely present.

See answers

Activity 3 Ways of persuading someone to do/not do something

Activity 3A Structure of functional language

Procedure: Print out the following table and cut it into strips. Put students into pairs and get them to match the sentence halves.

You know, it might be better if you let Maggie drive from now on. You're looking tired.
Why don't you think about taking three weeks'' holiday instead of two? It might do you good.
Oh, go on, please come to the party! I don't want to go without you.
We'd really like you to come with us to France.
I think you should forget about the whole thing and just get on with doing your job.
I'd really prefer it if you didn''t put your feet on the sofa.

Activity 3B Speaking practice

Procedure: Go over the answers to Activity 3A, paying close attention to the correct form of the verb. Then get students to re-form into small groups and create their own sentences using the first part of the sentences only.