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Activity 2




  1. Ask a couple of learners to give a presentation on the function of modal verbs, discussing different meanings expressed by each modal verb and giving a few examples from their course book.
  2. Hand out a concordance printout of the modal ‘can’ to all the class. Elicit the function and different meanings from the data given; ‘can’ expresses 4 meanings: possibility, ability, permission and polite request.
  3. Divide the class into groups of 5-6. Give each group a different set of the concordance for ‘can’. Each group should analyze the data given, and then discuss their findings.
  4. Each group report back to the class. They should be able to identify the function(s) in their concordance, illustrated by examples.
  5. Learners are allowed to make any comments of instances of other meanings not mentioned before.


Adapted with permission from: Prima Mallikamas’ activity in Applications of Corpora in Language Teaching, ThaiTESOL Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 1, February 1999


Sample Concordances of the modal 'can':


- Whole class

- Group 1

- Group 2

- Group 3

- Group 4

- Group 5



Concordance (1) Whole Class Activity



Concordance (2) - Group 1




Concordance (3) - Group 2



Concordance (4) - Group 3

Concordance (5) - Group 4




Concordance (6) - Group 5