View Content #28603

Content Type4
TitleObservation Activity: Discourse Markers

This activity was created to engage learners with one strategy for improving their intercultural communicative competence (ICC) in the interpersonal mode: the observation of discourse markers, or words and phrases that structure the flow of what they are communicating about, in practice. It is appropriate for learners of all levels.

Learners will be able to:

  • Identify different types of discourse markers in practice
  • Create their own vocabulary lists of discourse markers

Mode(s): Interpretive, Interpersonal

Materials: Observation for ICC: Discourse Markers video, Interpersonal text in the target language


  1. Introduce the notion of discourse markers to learners by showing the group the Observation for ICC: Discourse Markers video
  2. Debrief the video in Think, Pair, Share format. 
    1. Think: Ask the learners to brainstorm examples of referential discourse markers, sequential discourse markers, cognitive discourse markers, and other interpersonal discourse markers (e.g., those that communicate perception, agreement, and amazement). This brainstorm should occur in the target language as much as possible. However, learners are permitted to brainstorm in the L1 when they are unsure of the term in the TL (target language).
    2. Pair: Ask learners to share their lists with one another and add to their own as needed. Partners may help to translate the phrases to the TL that were brainstormed in the L1.
    3. Share: As a class, create a list of discourse markers. Use this phase as an opportunity to demonstrate how to use a dictionary in the event that no one in the class knows a given discourse marker in the TL. As the class creates their lists, learners can amend what they have already created.
  3. Provide the learners with one text representing interpersonal communication. These can be transcripts that accompany a given audio file or texted conversations. Ask that they read/listen or read (depending on the text) and underline every example of a discourse marker that they think they find individually.
  4. Have learners return to the partner they worked with in Step 2. Ask that they listen/read again or reread the text and share the discourse markers they identified. Then, ask that they categorize the discourse markers by highlighting each type (referential, sequential, cognitive, and other) in a distinct color.
  5. As a group, discuss what learners discovered in Step 5 and add to the list created and refined in Step 2.
  6. Ask learners to set one goal for implementing discourse markers the next time they practice interpersonal communication. This goal could refer to the number of discourse markers they want to implement or to the type of discourse marker they want to master.


  • If learners are not yet familiar with intercultural communicative competence, please show them this video before completing Step 1.
Inputdate2021-09-09 13:22:03
Lastmodifieddate2021-09-09 13:22:03
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Displaydate2021-09-13 00:00:00