How can you teach informal and formal linkers in English?

Connectors are important to make a text hang together and to give speech sense. In a Cambridge exam, writing is marked on its cohesion.

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Teach informal vs formal connectors

Example 1 (informal speech)

I've just had an awful English class. I'm going to carry on going.

Which linker could you use to give the sentences more cohesion and sense?

Answer: an informal contrast linker e.g. but

I've just had an awful English class but I'm going to carry on going.

Example 2 (formal writing)

Few youngsters use museums. They attract many tourists to the city.

Which linker could you use?

Answer: Again, a contrast linker but a formal one e.g. despite (the fact that +clause)

Despite the fact that few youngsters use museums, they attract many tourists to the city.

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Practical Suggestions for Teachers

1. A good way of practising linkers, like all language, is to meet them in context. Take an article or maybe a fictional extract, blank out the connectors and get your student to fill them in. This task is also good practice for Part 2 of the Use of English exam (FCE and CAE).

My example:

Homeworking is very beneficial. 1._____ all the distractions, half of the people surveyed insist they’re actually more productive when they work from home. Homeworkers 2._____ appreciate saving money (41%) and being able to use their own toilets (37%). 3.______, a quarter of the people surveyed admitting to not getting out of their pyjamas, which may not encourage the right work ethic.

Answers: 1. despite 2. also 3. however

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2. Give your student a list of linkers to include in their writing (that includes different types of linkers ie. addition, contrast, etc.).

3. Raise your student's awareness of linkers while reading for example by giving them a text to read and highlight the linkers they come across. You can also use the Cambridge reading exam for this as it will be of an appropriate level.

4. Encourage linkers in speaking. Give your student some cards with a range of linkers and encourage them to use them as they speak.

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