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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > " play an important role in our life"    

" play an important role in our life"

United States

" play an important role in our life"
Dear Colleagues, I got this new class of students and when speaking they all have one and the same cliche when speaking about anything I ask

For Example: Can you dwell on the importance of Internet? or Why is it important to have a strong family behind you?
They would begin their narrative as
"Internet plays an important role in our life" or "Family plays and important role in our lives" I am getting a little tired of this abused phrase. Can you suggest anythging to substitute it?

Your help will be greatly appreciated


6 Dec 2010      

United States

Well, to begin with - the word dwell is a bit out-of-date!
Think is probably better in this case.

Why not ask them what they use the internet for.
Give examples of how they use the internet and
could they survive a week without it

Regarding family  - ask them:
Can you imagine a situation where it it is important to have a strong family supporting you.
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed your family to back you up?

If they answer with Family plays an important role in our lives - - just keep asking - How? or In what way?

6 Dec 2010     

United Kingdom

I hope this helps and I �m not being overly simplistic but some replacements phrases for the dreaded �plays an important role in my life � to teach them might be �It is important for me � �It is of huge importance in today �s world/my life � �I can �t imagine life without... � �It is of increasingly great importance in today �s world � �Without it life would be much more difficult �... Did that help?  Sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick. 
By the way, I agree with the comment about dwell.  It doesn �t fit terribly well there.  In my opinion, dwell normally carries negative connotations e.g. He dwelt on his problems and got increasingly dispirited. Might be an English English thing though. I don �t feel qualified to comment when we �re throwing variants of English into the mix :)

6 Dec 2010     


You can try asking your ss to use the words (not necessarily verbatim) in the questions when answering.

So the answer would be something like (depending on the level of your ss); I feel/ think it�s important to have strong family support���.    / Strong families are important for our�. (BTW what exactly are you asking? What is the definition of a strong family)?  

To my mind (to dwell) the internet is important for ease of���.. and then you probably get �such as��� Smile


6 Dec 2010     

United States

Thank you my friends!

6 Dec 2010     

miss K.

It really looks like your students are from former USSR. That �s the pattern to talk here. Perhaps providing them with speech patterns would be helpful and show them how to extend those patterns

6 Dec 2010     

United Kingdom

Dear Mariby22,
In order to encourage your students to see both sides of an argument, you could ask them to begin:
"The Internet, (The family), has positive and negative influences in our lives.
On the positive side, firstly ... , secondly ... , thirdly ..."
"By contrast, on the negative side, firstly ..., secondly ... , thirdly ... "
I suggest that you specifically say to the student: "Don �t begin your answer with �The Internet, (The family), plays an important role in our life! � please!"  Forbid the phrase!
You could say: "Try to begin with different introductions, for example .... .... ..."
I agree with the other writers, who indicate that the manner of asking the question itself, (by the Teacher), will alter the manner of the response, and will tend to �kill off � the boring introduction used by Students.  The question will �channel � the answer away from the response: "XYZ plays an important role in our life!"
"Can you tell me 3 bad effects of the Internet?"
"The Internet has some bad effects --- can you list several of its disadvantages, please?"
"What do you dislike about the Internet?"
"If you have ever had a bad experience at home, can you describe it , please?"
"The family plays an important role in our life, but are there times when it is a problem?"
"In your opinion, when does the family cease to be important?"
The other writers have given some excellent suggestions.  They may not agree with my suggestions.
I hope that I have helped you.

6 Dec 2010