Tuesday 16 December 2014


I came across this video via a post by Jennifer MacDonald on the #tleap discussion forum. Essentially, the video is a warning against overuse of nominalisation. Fair point. Overuse of most things is generally a bad thing. However, in her blog, Jennifer MacDonald makes the point that nominalisation is a feature of academic writing, and as such, should be something we look at with students. Stan Carey also discusses the point here.

I think I may have missed the point when watching the video. Rather than be horrified by nominalisation, I found myself thinking that there could be a good lesson in this. The students that I work with at the moment, tend to start every sentence with an agent (e.g. Many people think.....The Government should.....You need to.....etc.) so a bit of nominalisation might be no bad thing (in fairness to the video, I think it is aimed at proficient writers of English who might get bogged down in a waffly style of writing).

With this lesson, the idea was to introduce nominalisation in a very gentle way, guiding the students to figure it out themselves rather than overload them with rules.

I also thought it might be nice to direct students towards the debate that started me off on this post. It occurs to me that in EAP teachers' blogs, there is a lot that would be of interest to students, as much as to teachers, and it would, therefore, be nice to invite them into the discussion. So, the homework part of this lesson tries to do just that.

Once you've introduced the idea of nominalisation to students, you can do lots of nice things afterwards. Give them a text and ask them to find examples of nominalisations. Peer correct writing and find opportunities to use nominalisation (in fact, it could become part of your feedback - Nom. as shorthand for "you could use a bit of nominalisation here"). Ask them to find texts in their areas and look for nominalisation.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please do let me know.

Click here for the Lesson PDF

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