Speaking: Functions 4: Instructions

Speaking in Academic contexts

Rhetorical Functions in Academic Speaking: Giving instructions


Instructions can be given in many ways. A list with the imperative form of the verb and words such as “first, “then, “next” is one common way. Continuous text using the present tense form of the verb with you and should is another common way. Make sure you distinguish between giving instructions – that is, telling someone how to do something – and describing a process – that is describing how something happens. Look at the following examples of different ways of giving instructions. Notice the highlighted language items:

Calculating the standard deviation

First, put the scores in order down the page.
Then, work out the mean.
Now calculate how much each deviates from the mean.
Next, square each of these deviations.
Add them all up.
Now divide by the number of scores.
Lastly find the square root.
This is the standard deviation.

Mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration

In certain accidents, if the patient’s breathing stops, you can save life by using artificial respiration. This means that someone else causes air to enter and leave a person’s lungs. The method of artificial respiration that the U.S. Army, the Red Cross, and the Boy Scouts of America recommend is a method of mouth-to-mouth breathing. First, place the victim face up. Tilt the victim’s head back so that the chin is pointing upward. Next, if there is any foreign matter in the victim’s mouth, wipe it out quickly with your fingers. Then, with your right-hand thumb, pull the jaw down to clear the tongue from the air passage in the back of the victim’s mouth. With your left hand, pinch the nostrils to prevent the air you blow into the victim’s mouth from escaping through the nose. Now, place your mouth tightly over the victim’s and blow into his or her mouth until you see the chest rise. Remove your mouth, turn your head to the side, and listen to the outrush of air that indicates air exchange. Repeat blowing. For an adult, blow vigorously at a rate of about twelve breaths a minute. For a young child, take relatively shallow breaths, at a rate of about twenty a minute.

Creating a new Web page

You don’t need any special tools to create a Web page. You can use any word processor, even WordPad or SimpleText, which are included with the basic Windows and Macintosh system software.

To create a new Web page:

First, open a text editor or word processor.
Then. choose File > New to create a new, blank document.
Next. create the HTML content as explained in the rest of this book.
When you’ve done that, choose File > Save As.
In the dialog box that appears, choose Text Only (or ASCII) for the format.
Next, give the document the .htm or .html extension.
Then. Choose the folder in which to save the Web page.
Finally. Click Save.

Printing black and white photographs

First, you should prepare chemical solutions and arrange them in three dishes in the order in which you will use them – developer, stop bath and fix. You should then bring down or raise the solutions to the correct temperature (about 20°C) and there should be enough of each to give a depth of 5cm.

Next, you should then cut the film into strips so that all of them will fit on to a single sheet of 10 x 8in paper. Clean the negatives and the sheet of glass with an anti-static cloth. Then switch off the white light and switch on the safelight.

The enlarger is a convenient light source. You should adjust the height of the head so that its beam illuminates an area slightly larger than the sheet of glass you are using. Stop down to f8 and cover the lens with the safe filter.

Then, take a sheet of printing paper and lay it, emulsion (glossy) side up, in position under the enlarger. It will not, of course, be affected by the filtered light from the enlarger. Lay the negatives, emulsion (matt) side down, on top of the paper and cover them with the sheet of glass to hold them in place.

After that, switch off the enlarger and then move the safe filter away from the lens. Switch on the enlarger again and expose the paper for 10 seconds. This should be accurate to within about one second.

You should now take the exposed photographic paper from under the glass and slide it into the developer dish with the emulsion side up.

When the paper has been in the developer for about 30 seconds the image should begin to appear and it will continue to darken for about two minutes. Agitate the paper gently during this period by rocking the dish or moving the paper about carefully with the tongs.

After the correct time, the image will reach a stage where it does not change its density very much. At this point, remove the sheet from the developer and let the liquid drain off.

When the developer solution has drained off the paper, take the second pair of tongs and transfer it to the stop for 15-30 seconds.

Next, transfer the print from the stop bath to the fixer. After about a minute the white light may be switched on and the print can be examined.

You should now transfer the print to the wash and keep it there face down for 30 minutes, or at least twice as long for double-weight paper. If you are using resin-coated paper, it need only be for five minutes.

You should now dry the finished print. If you use a squeegee roller or photographic blotting paper to remove excess water, you should take care not to get dust on to the surface, which will remain tacky until the print is dry.


Try this exercise: Exercise 1



Sequence, or order, is important in giving instructions. The table blow shows some common expressions used.


The first step is

First of all,

The first stage is

To begin with,

. begins with


. commences with


Before this,


Prior to this,


At the same time,



When this happens


Secondly, Thirdly etc

After this,


The next step is


In the next stage,


In the following stage,


Following this,

As soon as the committee has finished its work, .


. until .


. finishes with .


concludes with

In the last stage,

The last step is .

Manner – how something is done

in such a way that…

slowly, carefully, etc

with care/precision

in a careful way/manner

Purpose – why something is done

so as to …

so as not to …

so that …

in order to …

in order not to …

Print Friendly, PDF & Email