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Interactive video lesson plan for: BBC Masterclass: Words used to connect ideas - so to speak, I mean... (Discourse Markers 2)

Activity overview:

In this Masterclass, Sian's going to explain more about discourse markers and help make your English sound more natural. Discourse markers are words and phrases which we use to connect and organise our ideas, such as 'right', 'well' and 'anyway'. They can guide the listener by connecting ideas and telling the listener what information is coming up. Some have other functions. For more, visit our website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/towards-advanced/unit-27/session-1

Sian here for BBC Learning English. In this Masterclass we're going to look at more ways you can use discourse markers to help connect your ideas when you're having conversations.
Ok, so discourse markers will help you sound more fluent and help you understand native speaker conversations. We’re going to look at seven different discourse markers today. Listen to this conversation I had with Dan before Christmas. Can you hear seven different discourse markers?

I've just found out that nobody wants to go skydiving for our staff Christmas party!

Well, to tell you the truth it was a bit of a crazy idea – I mean, we normally just go out for dinner!

But you see I thought everyone would love the idea, so I've already bought all the tickets and they are non-refundable…

Ah! So in other words you've lost a lot of money!


Well at the end of the day, it's only money and Christmas is coming…

Yeah but I won't have enough money to buy any presents for my family.

I know. Why don't you take them all skydiving as your gift to them?

That's a great idea… they'll be over the moon, so to speak!

OK, so look at this conversation. Here are all seven. Let’s have a look at the function of each one:

Number 1, we had ‘to tell you the truth’. We use this when you are about to give your opinion. So often when you are going to say what you really think or feel, sometimes when you are just about to insult someone.

The second one we used was ‘I mean’. We use ‘I mean’ when you’re about to explain or correct a statement, or often just to give yourself time. It’s like a filler.

Next we had ‘you see’. This means I’m about to give an explanation or I’m going to give you some new information.

Number 4 was ‘in other words’. This is used when you are going to explain something in a different way, either something you’ve already said or something the person you are having a conversation with has said.

Then we had ‘at the end of the day’. This is used very commonly and it doesn’t mean at the end of the day literally. We use this when you’re about to say the most important thing after you’ve considered everything else…kind of like a summary.

Next we had ‘I know’. This is used when you have a sudden idea at the time of speaking.

And finally we used ‘so to speak’ this is quite tricky. We use it when you’ve used an expression, but you want to emphasise that what you said is not meant literally, you’re using it metaphorically. So even though Dan’s family are going skydiving, they won’t literally be going over the moon…it just means they’re going to be happy.

So you see discourse markers can be tricky but at the end of the day all you need is practice. So go to our website bbclearningenglish.com. See you soon. Goodbye!

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