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									Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts




                                     The Passive Voice

                          Project Work, Part III: Analyzing Student Texts




                                  Analyzed textbook 1:
              Grammar Dimensions Platinum, Vol.3, Unit 4: Passive Verbs (p. 46-63)
                              By Stephen H. Thewlis (2000)




Grammatical Explanation/Sequencing

        In this unit, the first component of the passive voice that the author addresses is what is

referred to as a Review of Passive Verb Forms. Within this section of the unit, he explains five

forms of the passive. These forms are sequenced in the order that follows (a) be + past participle

(+ by phrase), (b) the changing of be to indicate single or plural, (c) affirmative or negative, (d)

time frame (present, past, future) and aspect (simple, perfect progressive), (e) modal information

(predication, advisability, possibility, etc.). Each of these five forms is presented in a chart that

provides an explanation for each of the forms as well as examples specific to each form.

        To explain the first form, the author indicates that only the be auxiliary changes form in

the passive voice. In addition, he suggests that often information is not provided about who or

what has performed the action. However, when this information is provided, it should be

included in the (+ by phrase). To explain the second form, the author suggests students should

change be to indicate singular or plural. The author provides no explanations of the third, fourth,

or fifth form. The only explanation for these forms is the descriptive title I have indicated in the




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Spring 2004                                                              Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                            04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                    Analyzing Student Texts

paragraph above.

        The second component of the passive that the author addresses is entitled Passive

Meaning: Agent Versus Receiver. Within this section, there are two charts, one of which is

entitled the Agent and Receiver in Active Sentences and another entitled the Agent and Receiver

in Passive Sentences. The first chart addresses the subject, active verb and object of active

sentences and includes a definition of agent and receiver as well as information about the how

students can expect each of these two categories to function in active sentences. The second chart

includes an explanation of the subject, passive verb and (by + noun phrase) of passive sentences

including an explanation that discusses the role of the receiver and agent in passive sentences as

well as their relationship to the (by + noun phrase).

        The next component of the passive voice that the author addresses is entitled When to

Include the Agent. This component is discussed to help students appropriately use the passive.

This section begins with a statement clarifying that in English we typically do not include agents

in passive sentences because when passive is used agents are often unknown or unimportant.

Following this statement, the author includes a chart, which provides explanations of when to

include the agent. These explanations are included on the right side of the chart and example

sentences are included on the left side of the chart.

        The fourth component of the passive voice addressed in this unit is entitled The Get

Passive. This component is one that author categorizes as relevant to both the form and use of

the passive. The section also includes charts with examples and explanations. There are two

charts in total. The first chart addresses how to form the get passive and the second chart

discusses how to use the get passive. In addition, the first chart indicates that “in spoken or

informal English we can use get instead of be as the passive auxiliary” (Thewlis, 2000, p. 54). In



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Spring 2004                                                               Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                             04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                     Analyzing Student Texts

addition, the author explains the form of the get passive in questions and negatives. The second

chart explains that the get passive is frequently used with animate subjects rather than inanimate

ones as well as the fact that this form of the passive emphasizes “the action rather than the state”

(p. 54). Example sentences accompany each of the explanations we have described.

        The fifth component of the passive voice addressed is entitled Special Cases: Verbs with

no Passive Forms and Other Verbs with No Active Forms. Five special cases are detailed in the

chart included in this section. Each of these special cases is discussed via an explanation

accompanied by example sentences. The first special case is described as verbs that do not have a

passive form because “they do not take direct objects” (p. 56). The second case includes verbs

that take objects, which when they describe states do not occur in passive voice. The third case

includes verbs describing changes of state, which can “occur in the active with a passive

meaning” (p. 56). The fourth special case includes passive verbs without active forms. The final

special case addressed passive verbs with different meanings in the passive and active voice.



Pedagogical Approach for the Explanations

        Throughout all these explanations, the passive voice was presented deductively.

Furthermore, all of the components of the passive that the author addressed were discussed via

the use of charts that explicitly explained that particular component of the structure. In addition,

five out of six of these components were addressed in context. The context was minimal in the

sense that it was sentence level discourse provided in the examples on the left side of each chart.

However, one of the components of the passive addressed in this unit was addressed without any

sentence level discourse/context. Determining whether or not the explanations were presenting

the passive voice in authentic or inauthentic discourse was tricky, i.e., it truly depends on how



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Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts

these terms are defined. However, we will categorize two of the six explanations as more

authentic than the remaining three (one set of explanations did not include discourse at all). We

make this distinction because the three we categorize as relatively inauthentic include only

sentences level examples created specifically for this particular textbook. The other two

explanations consist of sentences from discourse used in the unit’s first activity (i.e., the activity

about Nazca Lines and Stonehenge). The authenticity of this particular activity’s discourse is

questionable. However, this discourse can be considered more authentic than sentences created

only to exemplify the structural information of charts.

        The final component of the passive voice addressed the issue of use. The author begins

this section with a statement indicating that it is usually a better choice to use active verb forms.

However, directly following this statement is a chart that details instances where passive verb

forms are preferable. Again, this chart includes both explanations and example sentences.

Explanations of this point include that the passive should be used (a) if the agent is unknown, (b)

if the agent is unimportant, (c) if the agent is obvious, (d) to emphasize the receiver, or (e) to

make general explanations, statements or announcements.

        Furthermore, three out of the six components stressed meaning rather than form. The

other three components stressed form over meaning (within this group there was also a segment

which dealt explicitly with the use of the passive). In only two of the six components did the

explanations shift from a presentation of form to a presentation of meaning or vice versa. This

trend occurred in the second component entitled Passive Meaning: Agent Versus Receiver. Here,

the author begins by discussing meaning and moves into a discussion of form. Interestingly, in

the fourth component entitled The Get Passive, the author moves from a discussion of form to a

discussion of use. All in all, we found that in this unit there is a nearly equal focus on meaning



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Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts

and form.



Activities/Exercises

         This unit includes one activity and fourteen exercises. The author chose to include the

activity at the very beginning of the unit, prior to providing any of the grammatical explanations

or exercises. This initial activity is entitled Mysterious Places and includes three steps. The first

step asks the students to read the information provided about either Stonehenge or the Nazca

Lines. As they read about their chosen topic, students are asked to answer the following

questions (a) “How were they constructed? (b) Why were they constructed? (c) When were they

constructed?” (p. 47). The second step of the activity asks the students to form a group with

another student who read about the same topic and two other students who read about the other

topic. Once the students have formed groups of four, they are asked to compare their answers. As

a final step of to the activity, in these same groups, students are asked to discuss the following (a)

“Are these structures proof that the Earth has been visited by beings from some other planet?”

(b) Why or why not?” (p. 47). Lastly, the students are asked to share their group’s ideas with the

class.

         Exercise number one is the first exercise available for the students to complete. All of

the exercises are ordered sequentially according to their number (i.e., Exercise 3 occurs prior to

Exercise 7). In Exercise 1, the author asks students to find examples of passive verb forms

provided in the initial activity (i.e., about Stonehenge/Nazca Lines) described above. Once the

students find and underline ten examples of the passive, they are to determine if each form is (a)

singular or plural, (b) affirmative or negative, (c) present, past, or future time frame, (d) simple,

perfect, or progressive aspect.



                                                  5
Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts

        In exercise two the students are asked to write the passive forms for a list of fifteen verbs.

An example from this exercise is as follows: “obtain (singular, simple present)” (p. 49). Exercise

3 consists of eight questions with two sentences apiece. The first sentence in each question

contains an active verb. The students are asked to construct a passive sentence below this initial

active sentence. To do this, the students must insert the proper form of be and a past participle in

the space provided. In Exercise 4, the author asks students to work with a partner to create five

additional sentences about “products or accomplishments of a national or cultural group”(p. 50).

This theme is carried over from Exercise 3, where the sentences provided all related to the

achievements of cultural groups. Likewise, Exercise 5 refers back to Exercise 2. Specifically, the

students are asked to choose eight verbs from Exercise 2 and create original sentences with these

verbs. Exercise 6 is based on an article about the Nazca Lines. Students are asked to first read the

article provided and underline all the passive constructions. In addition, in each instance of the

passive, they are to circle the receiver and put a square around the agent. The directions for

Exercise 7 (which includes a total of six questions) are as follows “Write one active sentence and

one passive sentence for each set of agent, receiver and verb” (p. 52). In Exercise 8, students are

asked to read the six sentences provided and for each sentence they are asked to decide whether

the agent should be included. If they decide that the agent is unnecessary, the students must

rewrite the sentence without the by phrase. Exercise 9 includes six sentences and the students are

asked to choose be or get (or both, in cases where either form is correct), for each of the blanks

in the sentences. In Exercise 10, the author provides a list of verbs without passive forms and

asks the students to write a sentence for each of the verbs listed and compare their sentences with

the sentences of their peers. In Exercise 11, the students are asked to use the chart available on

the same page (i.e., a chart that helps learners identify reasons the passive voice is sometimes



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Spring 2004                                                               Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                             04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                     Analyzing Student Texts

preferred) to help them determine why the authors of five sentences might have chosen to use the

passive voice. Exercise 12 takes the previous idea a step further by introducing authentic

discourse and discourse level rather than sentence level texts. For this exercise, students are

provides with the introduction to a sociology textbook and asked to (a) read the text, (b)

underline the passive, and (c) with a partner decide why the author of the text chose to use the

passive. In Exercise 13, students are asked to choose between the active and passive verb form

for ten sentences left as part of a passage on the pyramids. Finally, Exercise 14 requires the

students to complete the same task with a different text.



Pedagogical Approach for the Activities

         In examining the discourse of the activities found in this unit, we discovered that only

four of the fifteen activities/exercises were approached from the discourse level of language. The

majority of the activities (ten out the fifteen) were only approached from the sentence level. In

addition, one exercise was not created at the sentence level or discourse level of language, i.e.,

there was no context provided for the exercise. Six of the fifteen activities focused on meaning

while seven focused on form. The remaining two activities focused on both meaning and form.

In addition, we categorized six of the activities as based on authentic discourse while another six

presented in inauthentic discourse. The remaining three activities can be categorized as

dependent on student-produced discourse. Due to the fact that student-produced text is often

considered authentic, the final three activities were placed within the authentic discourse

category. With respect to context it was apparent that six of the fifteen activities were clearly

placed within a context. Two other activities were placed within minimal context (about two

sentences worth of text) and the remaining seven activities were decontextualized.



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Spring 2004                                                                Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                              04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                      Analyzing Student Texts

        Only two of the fifteen activities appeared to clearly involve peer interaction, (i.e., could

be labeled communicative). In contrast, based in part on their communicative nature/the presence

of authentic discourse, we categorized seven of the fifteen activities as meaningful. The interest

level of the activities varies greatly and would of course depend on the group of learners using

the text. However, when the unit is viewed as whole, we categorized six of the fifteen activities

as interesting when compared to the remaining nine activities. “Interest level” was determined in

part by speculation about the relevancy of the task outside of a textbook context. For instance,

we decided that creating passive sentences based on a list of verbs was an “uninteresting”

exercise especially when compared to an exercise that required learners to identify passive verbs

in authentic discourse and speculate why the author of the passage had chosen to use the passive

voice. Finally, many of the activities, which were “more interesting,” also provided the learners

with more of a challenge. Thus, seven of the fifteen activities are relatively challenging while the

remaining eight did not appear to be so.



Discourse

         In the The Get Passive component of this unit, Thewlis (2000) states, “in spoken or

informal English we can use get instead of be as the passive auxiliary”(p. 54). In addition, within

the Choosing the Passive Versus the Active component of the unit, the author states that one

reason to use the passive instead of the active is to “make general explanations, statements, and

announcements or in scientific and technical writing” (p. 57). Both of these statements indicate

that discourse genres directly affect the use of the passive voice. Finally, the types of authentic

discourse that appear in this unit perhaps indirectly point to discourses within which the passive

is common. For instance, one of the authentic texts used for an exercise comes from an



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Spring 2004                                                              Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                            04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                    Analyzing Student Texts

Introduction to Sociology textbook. Similarly, the title of another authentic passage is called

“The Mystery of the Nazca Lines” and two other authentic texts are of a similar historical genre.

Perhaps the author’s choice of these authentic texts indicates that the passive voice is more

common in academic/historical discourse types?



Variation

         This unit only hints at the relationship between the passive voice and variation. The

directions to the final two exercises include a final sentence that says, “ There may be more than

one correct choice” (p. 59). In these exercises, the student is asked to choose between the active

and passive voice. Thus, this statement suggests that such a choice may not always be vary/not

always be clear-cut. Furthermore, one of the components of the passive voice addressed in the

unit is entitled Special Cases: Verbs with No Passive Forms and Other Verbs with No Active

Forms. Within this section, the author discusses exceptions to the general use of the passive

voice. A chart of these exceptions represents as close as this unit comes to addressing issues of

variation.



Speech Acts

         Unfortunately, in this unit there was no information about the role of the passive voice

in speech acts.



Evaluation of Grammatical/Pedagogical Soundness

         Overall this student text seems to be more grammatically sound than pedagogically

sound. One of the main points in favor of its grammatical soundness is the fact that there is a



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Spring 2004                                                                Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                              04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                      Analyzing Student Texts

nearly equal treatment of form and meaning. Additionally, the author spends time addressing the

use of the passive voice. Finally, all grammar explanations are placed within clear charts that

include easy to locate examples. However, the shortcomings of this unit include lack of attention

to the have passive or lack of discussion on the role of middle voice. Furthermore, the third,

fourth and fifth form ((c) affirmative or negative, (d) time frame (present, past, future) and aspect

(simple, perfect progressive), (e) modal information (predication, advisability, possibility, etc.),

are merely listed at the beginning of the unit without any explanation.

        In addition, all of the explanations are conveyed deductively. To achieve a more balanced

approach the author should have considered also including inductive approaches. On a positive

note, the explanations are placed within context (i.e., most are accompanied by one sentence

examples). However, the presence of such brief, relatively decontextualized examples are only

somewhat useful to students because more than one sentence is necessary to approximate the

complexities of how the passive functions at the discourse levels of language. Furthermore, none

of the explanations in this unit addressed postmodifiers or adjectival past participles which

played an important role in authentic discourse and teacher references. Finally, the authenticity

of any of the discourse is questionable because the reader/user is not given source information

for these pieces of discourse.

         The less sound nature of this unit’s pedagogical approach stems from the often

uncommunicative, uninteresting, less than meaningful exercises which were often not

contextualized beyond the sentence level. For instance, Exercise two asks students to write the

passive forms of a list of verbs. “I forget (plural, past perfect)” is one example (p. 49). Such an

activity (although it may be sound practice for some students) is not contextualized, not

particularly meaningful, not communicative, less than interesting, and not particularly



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Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts

challenging. In contrast, Exercise eight provides students with an interesting opportunity to

identify the agents within sentences. In addition, they have the chance to decide if it is necessary

to include explicit mention of the agent in each sentence. This approach may successfully

illustrate the reasoning behind the agentless passive construction. However, such an activity

would be greatly improved if it were placed in a broader context (i.e., conducted at the discourse

level of language using authentic texts). Other shortcomings to the pedagogical approach of this

text include the fact that the activities/exercises only occur at the discourse level in four out of

fifteen instances. Likewise, the activities/exercises only occur in context in six out of fifteen

instances. Furthermore, only two of the fifteen exercises can be considered communicative.

Finally, it may be a poor pedagogical choice to include no information about the passive voice’s

relationship to speech acts and little information on its’ relationship to discourse and variation.




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Spring 2004                                                                 Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                               04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                       Analyzing Student Texts




                                    Analyzed textbook 2:
               Intermediate Grammar, Chapter 16: Passive Sentences (pp. 415-445)
                                By Susan Kesner Bland (1996)




Grammatical Explanation/Sequencing

          Chapter 16: Passive Sentences opens with a preview, in which the active voice and

passive voice are defined and contrasted in terms of what serves as the subject of a sentence. The

author defines them as follows: if the subject performs an action, sentences are active; if not,

they are passive (p. 415). She also gives a short preview of when, where, and why passives are

chosen.

          Immediately after the preview, an overview on forms of the passive is given. In this

overview, the author provides sentential examples of be-passives with seven different tense and

aspect combinations along with a modal should. Then, she gives students her rule of thumb for

forming passives; “To form the passive, use the appropriate tense or modal with the auxiliary

verb be + the past participle of a transitive verb” (p. 416) and explains what transitive and

intransitive verbs are. She cautions students that there are a few transitive verbs that do not have

passive forms and that “by + a noun” for expressing the agent of an action is optional.

          After one exercise that asks students to distinguish between active and passive sentences,

an overview on meaning and use of the passive is given. Here, the author emphasizes that the

choice of passives is a matter of focal shift from the agent of an action to the receiver or result of

an action. She then provides longer explanation on the reasons for choosing the passive voice

over the active voice that is similar to what we saw in Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999).



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Spring 2004                                                               Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                             04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                     Analyzing Student Texts

The reasons for the choice in this chapter include agent unimportant or unknown, agent obvious,

agent evaded, and agent too general. In addition, she tells the students that the passive “is often

used to keep the focus on a noun that was mentioned in a previous sentence” (p. 418) and

illustrates with two suprasentential examples such as:

        Linda had three job interviews. Eventually, she was hired by a new computer

        company in Dallas. In her last letter, she said she was very happy there.

          (This discussion is about Linda. The passive is used so that Linda can be the

        subject of the second sentence.)(p. 418)

         The rest of the grammatical explanations on passives in this chapter are divided into

four based on the following topics: simple present & simple past, simple future, continuous &

perfect, and modals. The author gives students information on how these grammatical devices

interact with passives and in what kind of situations they can be used. Under each topic,

examples for negative statements, Yes/No questions, Wh-questions are provided. In addition,

whenever applicable, examples for contracted forms (e.g. “I’m not [elected]”) and an answer to

the question forms (e.g. “Yes, it was”) and are provided. Each topic is followed by several

exercises which concentrate on the topical structure.



Pedagogical Approach for the Explanations

        The kind of approach taken for the grammatical explanation is deductive. In other words,

there was no discovery approach to explaining the grammar point. The examples given are out of

context and almost always at the sentence level (with two exceptions, one cited above which

consists of three sentences). In our opinion, it focuses much more on forms than meaning. In

particular, its strong emphasis on forming passives in accordance with tense, aspect, and modals



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Spring 2004                                                                        Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                                      04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                              Analyzing Student Texts

seems disproportionate. Also, giving examples of contractions seems unnecessary for this chapter.

Some of the examples appear to be at least near-authentic (e.g., “All fees must be paid at

registration”) but others seem contrived (e.g., I will be helped by the medicine).



Activities/Exercises

         There are twenty-seven exercises in this chapter and all of them are controlled in some

ways and there is no exercise that prompts students to generate the target form entirely on their

own. In other words, all or some language to be produced by the students are predetermined by

the author. According to Ellis (2002), controlled production practice gives students “guidance in

producing sentences containing the target form” while functional production practice requires

students to “produce their own sentences containing the target form in some kind of situational

context” (Ellis 2002, p. 52, emphasis mine).

         The table below illustrates the nature of exercises and their sequence.

Table 1
Exercises in Intermediate Grammar, Chapter 16
 #            Focus                        Student task                 Language type        Context/Situation
 1   Form: active vs. passive   Label A/P for active/passive               Sentence               None
 2   Meaning                    Put a checkmark                            Sentence               None
 3   Form                       Change a given verb into passive           Paragraph             A little
                                verb phrase                               (contrived)
 4   Form                       Change a given verb into passive           Dialogue               A little
                                verb phrase                               (contrived)
 5   Form & Meaning:            Create a sentence by using given       A set of sentences         None
     passives vs. actives       words
 6   Form & Meaning             Uncover ellipsis                             Signs                A little
                                                                          (simulated)
 7   Form                       Change a given verb into passive          Definitions             A little
                                verb phrase                               (simulated)
 8   Meaning                    Tell a partner true/false. If false,   About general truth        A little
                                make it negative.
 9   Forms                      Create a sentence by using given           Paragraph              A little
                                words                                     (simulated)
10   Given & New                Choose an appropriate sentence             Sentence               A little
     (active vs. passive)       out of passive/active sentences



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Spring 2004                                                                            Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                                          04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                                  Analyzing Student Texts

#             Focus                           Student task                  Language type       Context/Situation
11   Form                          Change a given verb into passive        A set of sentences       A little
                                   verb phrase                                (simulated)
12   Form                          Change a given verb into passive            Paragraph             Some
                                   verb phrase                                (contrived)
13   Form                          Rewrite #12 in different tense              Sentence              Some
14   Meaning: active         vs.   Create a sentence by using given            Sentence              None
     passive                       words
15   Form: Q & A                   Arrange given words to create a          Adjacency pair           None
                                   question
16   Form & Meaning:               Rewrite a given paragraph                  Paragraph              A little
     The receiver                  appropriately
17   Form & Meaning: past          Create a sentence by using given        A set of sentences        A little
     continuous passives           words
18   Form & Meaning                Uncover ellipsis                           Newspaper              None
                                                                               headlines
                                                                              (simulated)
19   Form & Meaning                Find passives     in        newspaper      Newspaper             Depends
                                   headlines                                   headlines
                                                                              (authentic)
20   Form & Meaning: the           Change actives to passives, omit            Sentence              None
     agent in passives             the agent if applicable
21   Form                          Change a given modal and verb           A set of sentences        A little
                                   into passive verb phrase
22   Form                          Change a given modal and verb            Adjacency pair           A little
                                   into passive verb phrase
23   Form & Meaning:               Change actives to passives,             A set of sentences        A little
     Impersonal tone               Practice the dialogue
24   Form: Q & A                   Arrange given words to create a          Adjacency pair           None
                                   question
25   Form & Meaning:               Create a sentence/utterance based           Sentence              Some
     Modals, Possibilities         on a given situation
26   Meaning                       Choose an appropriate one out of            Sentence              None
                                   two choices
27   Form & Meaning                Find an error and correct it                Sentence              None




Pedagogical Approach for the Activities

         The kind of pedagogical approach taken for the exercises in this chapter is generally at

the sentence level, thus inevitably lacking context. Some exercises focus solely on forms while

others focus on meaning to some extent. Some of the exercises seem to be at least near authentic,

while some others are strikingly contrived, the dialogue in #4 in particular. Also, when an



                                                          15
Spring 2004                                                               Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                             04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                     Analyzing Student Texts

exercise focuses on one tense or tense-aspect combination, the exercise asked students to keep an

entire paragraph in that tense or tense-aspect combination, which often is not the case in

authentic use of language. None of the exercises seem to be particularly communicatively

meaningful, even when the task asks students to converse with his or her partner. Some

meaning-focused exercises appear to be somewhat challenging since they ask students to make a

choice between the active and the passive voice. We found the use of signs in #6 (e.g. “ID

REQUIRED”) and newspaper headlines in #18 and #19 (“LOCAL BANK ROBBED; 2

KILLED”) interesting and potentially effective for awareness raising because students might start

noticing the target form in their everyday lives.



Discourse

         In the preview, the author tells students that passives are especially important in

technical writing (p. 415) and in the exercises she uses some simulated scientific narrative. Other

types of discourse, or genres, are introduced in this chapter: signs, news report, newspaper

headlines, word definitions, policies, etc.



Variation

         Unlike Grammar Dimensions 3, this chapter does not deal with get-passives, which

seems to be fairly common in conversational English. Additionally, there is no information on

the use of passives as a postmodifier and on adjectival past participle even though they were

mentioned in teachers’ references and we found them often in our authentic data analysis.




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Spring 2004                                                               Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                             04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                                     Analyzing Student Texts

Speech Acts

         Unfortunately, in this chapter there was no information about the role of the passive

voice in speech acts.



Evaluation of Grammatical/Pedagogical Soundness

         Overall, this chapter significantly fails to teach the grammar point at the discourse level

and to generate language from students. In terms of the grammatical soundness, in our opinion,

this chapter is unsatisfactory. The grammatical explanations are entirely deductive and the

examples given to students are almost always out of context and contrived. We found that its

focus on forms exceeded its focus on meaning. In addition, we would have liked to see some

information on frequency of active and passive voices since we have found the corpus findings

on passives in Biber et al. (1999) distinctively illustrative.

         In terms of pedagogical soundness, in our opinion, almost all of the exercises are too

mechanical to be interesting and/or challenging. Also, there seem no exercises which would

easily facilitate meaningful interaction among students other than a talk about the forms. On a

positive note, we found that the use of signs and newspaper potentially interesting for students

since we think that these are easily found outside of classroom, among authentic use of English,

and in socially relevant contexts.




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Spring 2004                                                         Erin Bartolotta & Yuki Ryu
LIN530 B Structure of English                                                       04/21/2004
Professor Lynn Goldstein                                               Analyzing Student Texts




                                          References

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman grammar of

          spoken and written English. London: Longman.

Bland, S. K. (1996). Intermediate grammar: From form to meaning and use. New York: Oxford

         University Press.

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