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Interactive video lesson plan for: BBC Masterclass: Words used to connect ideas - anyway, actually, basically (Discourse markers)

Activity overview:

Discourse markers are words and phrases we use to connect and organise our ideas. They act like signposts, telling the listener what information is coming up next. Sian will share eight discourse markers with you – and she'll let you listen to her telephone conversation to do this!

For more, visit our website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/towards-advanced/unit-16/session-1

Transcript:
Hi Sian here for BBC Learning English. There are signposts everywhere - today in this Masterclass we're going to look at ways you can use signposting when you're speaking.

So, there are signposts everywhere and they tell us where to go, but did you know that when we're speaking we use signpost words and phrases to help direct the listener? These are called discourse markers. They help connect what we're saying and tell the listener what information is coming up.

They'll help you sound more fluent and help you understand native speaker conversations.

Listen to my telephone call this morning. I use eight different discourse markers – can you hear all eight...?

...You know I was hosting an amazing dinner party last night? Actually, it was a complete disaster - I burnt the meat… people arrived when I was still cooking. Mind you, I did say 'turn up when you want'… and I did start cooking pretty late!

Anyway, as I was saying, I burnt the meat, the dishes were all ready at different times... the dessert was… oh come to think of it, I completely forgot to serve dessert!

So basically, everyone went home hungry. Anyway, how was your evening? By the way, before I forget, it's my birthday next week and I'm having a dinner party do you want to come?

So the first discourse marker I used was you know, we use this to say: 'I'm going to tell you some information that you already know.' ''You know I was hosting an amazing dinner party last night?''

The second one I used was actually - we use this when we're about to give some surprising information or correct some information. "Actually, it was a complete disaster".

Then I used mind you - we use this when we're about to give an afterthought that contrasts the information that came before, so, "people arrived when I was still cooking. Mind you, I did say 'turn up when you want'..."

The next discourse marker I used was anyway, as I was saying. As I was saying is very useful because it means: 'I'm going to return to what I was talking about before'. So, "as I was saying, I burnt the meat" This is a previous topic.

Then I used the discourse marker come to think of it, we use this when you've just remembered or thought of something as you're speaking "oh come to think of it, I completely forgot to serve dessert!" I'm remembering this as I'm speaking.

Then I used basically - basically is used to summarise what you're going to say. "So basically, everyone went home hungry".

The next one I used was anyway - anyway is really useful and very common. We use it to say 'I'm going to change topic now' or 'I'm going to go back to the original topic' or 'I'm going to finish what I was talking about'. "Anyway, how was your evening?"

And the final one I used was by the way - we use this to say 'I'm going to change direction and talk about something that's not connected to the main topic. "By the way, before I forget, it's my birthday next week."

So basically that's your introduction to discourse markers. We use them all the time, when we're speaking... and come to think of it, when we're writing too. By the way, we have a website bbclearningenglish.com where you can practise these and find out more information. Anyway see you soon. Goodbye.

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