sq_logoDifferent Registers


Different Situations


A WebQuest for Secondary, Cycle 2

Designed by

Nigel Jackson (nigel.jackson@mail.mcgill.ca),

 Heidi Kowalski (heidi.kowalski@mail.mcgill.ca),

Vanessa Pacitti (vanessa.pacitti@mail.mcgill.ca),

Valérie Pichette (valerie.pichette2@mail.mcgill.ca)

Nadezda Sidorenko (nadezda.sidorenka@mail.mcgill.ca)

B.Ed. TESL, Dept. of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

(Teacher’s guides are provided below )

A Word .doc copy of this page is also provided







earning English is difficult enough as it is…speaking inappropriately and getting a weird reaction is even worse! 


Your quest is to collect information in order to get clues from your teacher which will spell out the mystery word.  The quest that you are going on is all about learning when to use certain registers at the appropriate time. 


But…what’s a register, anyway?  A cash register?

No.  A register refers to a variety of language used for a particular social setting. 


Basically, it’s the way that you speak according to where you are and the people that you are with. 


To get a quick idea click on http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/formality.html





s the summer approaches, you start thinking about applying for jobs. You might have many unanswered questions as to how you are supposed to communicate with an employer. How do I write an email or a letter to a potential employer? How do I speak on the phone in an appropriate way? Do I communicate the same way that I would with my friends? There are different language registers in English that can help you communicate properly.


This web quest will help you distinguish in which context you should use different language registers. You will learn to make a distinction between text messaging and Standard English, and between African American English Vernacular and Standard English. You will learn how to write formal and informal letters and emails. Finally, you will learn how to communicate using different language registers.


The objective of the tasks is to complete the information chart. At the end of each activity, your teacher will give you a letter, which will uncover the secret word.  Are you ready for the challenge?













With whom?


The letter that is given to me

Text messages
























Informal vs. formal letters









































earning English can be difficult and using the appropriate register, often can be confusing.  Throughout this web quest, you should have now become familiar with many areas of the English language including email, text messaging, AAVE, and formality and informality in speech and writing.  Now, armed with a reference guide, we hope you feel more comfortable in taking on the fun and sometimes peculiar world of second language acquisition.  Remember to bookmark the links available throughout the web quest.  Not only are they useful resources for learning more about a particular topic or prepare you for the workforce, but they can help you become a stronger English as a second language learner as well. J







Teacher’s guides

1. Text Messaging


2. Emails


3. Informal vs. Formal Letters




5. Conversations



Evaluation tools




he evaluation tools that will be used to assess the different activities are provided in the teacher’s guides.

The evaluation tools for this SPEAQ-quest are designed to be formative rather than summative, the main objective of the quest being for the students to build their own reference chart to use for future writing. Nevertheless, the rubric for the last activity (conversations) can be used either for formative or summative assessment.


References for the images: