I have often found myself being asked by participants in upper-intermediate or advanced groups if we could cover how to use words like: however, although and nevertheless in future lessons. They had heard about these mysterious words, or maybe they had even read them in a text, but they didn´t know what to do with them and felt that they should. I´m not sure if learning something because you feel that you should is always a worthwhile thing to do, yet learning something new which will increase your range of expression can definitely make for a positive learning experience.
A member of one of my groups, who has been taking an English course in his company for over ten years- no one is exactly sure how long he´s been in training anymore- remarked with great surprise while completing this activity on linking words, that he had actually learnt something new. He hadn´t known that the word since could also be used to give a reason/ as a substitute for because and not only to link a point in the past to the present.
Challenging learners to see the English language in a new light or teaching them something they didn´t know when they thought they already knew it all, can feel like a breath of fresh air to them.
In terms of “usefulness”, linking words are more useful for learners who have frequent contact with native rather than non-native speakers of English. More specifically, they can help people who have to write reports, evaluations and other similar, extended texts in English or have to make presentations. In these situations, the use of linking words can increase the clarity of what they want to say and enable them to appear more sophisticated in their use of the English language, thus leaving a positive impression on their readership or audience.
For learners preparing for an exam, such as the Certificate in Advanced English (CAE), linking words are also a must and cannot be ignored.
I would suggest starting with a linking words quiz to establish what the participants know or don´t already know and then move on to a text-based activity where they can practise using the linking words themselves.
Click here to download the lesson plan.