ERIC Number: ED205027
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Teaching the Modals in an ESL Class.
Ney, James W.
Generalizations regarding languages should be presented to students to aid them in mastering the surface forms they encounter. Hoffmen's analysis of modals postulates a root meaning and an epistemic meaning for modals and predicts that the root interpretation is generally excluded by the progressive and perfect tenses. This system may form the basis for the teaching of modals. However, other principles need be included if modals are to be presented adequately. First, past tense modals generally have the same meanings as present tense modals in similar environments although their meaning is tinged with a certain remoteness. Second, except for "can" and "will," the past time referent for most modals is formed by including the perfect tense marker in the verb phrase. Third, certain principles exist that govern the interpretation of modals. For example, in questions, "may" functions only with the meaning of permission and not with the meaning of possibility. The analyses are supported with detailed examples. Tables provide a synopsis of the meaning of English modals and a discussion of necessity and hypothesis with "must" and "should." The overall pattern for the description of modals presented in the article is a practical guide for teaching ESL students. (Author/JK)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Interrogatives; Modals (Verbs); Tense (Verbs)
Note: Paper presented at the Conference of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (Detroit, MI, March 3-8, 1981).