Posted in Conversation Classes, pragmatics

Classroom Pragmatics: Arriving Late & Leaving Early

Five things you could be doing that are driving your professor crazy —  Vision Media

This is the first in a new series of classroom pragmatics lesson plans designed to help develop students’ pragmatic competence in specific social interactions that take place in the classroom. In this case, how to apologise for arriving late and how to request to leave early. Download the handout with key below:

First students rate a good and a bad apology/request. Then they must break the apology/request down into separate functions or speech acts, then practice making their own apologies and requests in a role-play. This should prepare them for the real-life interaction if/when it arises.

Late Arrival

  • What should you do if you arrive late to class?

Rate this late arrival:

Teacher: What time do you call this?

Student: Sorry I’m late, …. traffic ….., I was eating, lost the bus.”

Now this one:

Teacher:  What time do you call this?

Student: Hi Tim, I’m really sorry for being late. It’s my fault, you see, I was having lunch with my friends and I lost track of time. It won’t happen again.

Identify the different stages:

  1. Greeting
  2. Initial apology
  3. Accept responsibility/place blame
  4. Give explanation
  5. Promise action

Useful language

Initial apologyAccept responsibility
I’m really sorry for ….ingApologies for ….ingI apologise profusely for ….ingIt’s (all) my fault…I’m to blame…It’s on me…
Introduce explanation or excusePromise action
You see,…It’s just that…What happened was…It won’t happen again.I’ll try harder to …. next time.I promise I’ll/I won’t…

Role-play

https://rolladie.net/roll-a-d20-die – roll a 20-sided die to choose your excuse then role-play the situation with your partner.

Excuse Table

I overslept. My last class/meeting overran. I lost track of time. I missed the bus and had to wait for the next one. I got stuck in traffic. The metro line was down. I got distracted. I had a (dentist’s) appointment. My (pet/family member) was sick. I lost my (bag/phone/etc.)My bag got stolen. I fell over/tripped and hurt my (ankle/knee) I had a car/bike/motorbike accident. My car/bike/motorbike broke down. My house/flat got burgled/broken into. A water pipe burst in my house/flat. I got held up at the (doctor’s/dentist’s/bank) I got caught in the rain/snow. I got splashed by a puddle. There’s been a death in the family.

Leaving Early

  • How would you ask the teacher if you can leave early?

Rate this request:

Student: I have to leave early today. I have to go to the dentist. Here you have a note from my dad.

Now this one:

Student: Hi Tim, would it be ok if I left early today? I’ll only miss the last 20 minutes of class. The thing is, I have a dentist’s appointment at 3 o’clock, it’s the only slot they had. I’ll get the notes off María before next class and if you could let me know the homework, that’d be great.

Identify the different stages:

  • Greeting
  • Initial request
  • Softening
  • Introduce reason
  • Promise action/mitigation
Polite RequestsIntroducing explanations
Would it be of if + past simpleWould it be possible to + inf.Do you think I could + verb…?The thing is,…It’s just that,….You see,….

Role-play

https://rolladie.net/roll-a-d10-die – roll a 10-sided die to choose your excuse then role-play the situation with your partner. Think of ways to soften the request (I’ll only miss 20 minutes of class)

Excuse Table

It’s your (family member’s) birthday. You have a big sporting event. You have an important exam tomorrow morning. You have a flight/train to catch. You have a dentist’s appointment. You have a doctor’s appointment. You have an appointment at the hairdresser’s. You have an important business meeting. You have to go home to look after your kids/younger siblings. You have an important family dinner.

KEY – ARRIVING LATE

Teacher:  What time do you call this?

Student: Hi Tim, I’m really sorry for being late. It’s my fault, you see, I was having lunch with my friends and I lost track of time. It won’t happen again.

Identify the different stages:

  1. Greeting
  2. Initial apology
  3. Accept responsibility/place blame
  4. Give explanation
  5. Promise action

LEAVING EARLY

Student: Hi Tim, would it be ok if I left early today? I’ll only miss the last 20 minutes of class. The thing is, I have a dentist’s appointment at 3 o’clock, it’s the only slot they had. I’ll get the notes off María before next class and if you could let me know the homework, that’d be great.

Identify the different stages:

  • Greeting
  • Initial request
  • Softening
  • Introduce reason
  • Promise action/mitigation