How to Make Learning Grammar Fun

Even if you spend your evenings poring over your grammar book (and let’s be honest- who does?), perfecting participles isn’t an easy task. Here are some activities that you can incorporate into your lesson plans on how to make grammar fun for your students.

Activity 1 –  Articles

Objective – Practising using definite and indefinite articles.

Level – It is ideal for elementary to upper intermediate students.

Start with a text with all the articles removed. In pairs your learners must replace the missing articles. You can use a text of a series of sentences. Here is a suggested text for intermediate learners. Ten sentences is usually sufficient for this activity:

Mouse is much better pet to have than hamster.
Friend of mine sent me interesting postcard from Czech Republic.
I have visited many countries, including Solomon Islands, Netherlands, British Isles and Bahamas.
Best way to learn English is to find yourself boyfriend or girlfriend whose first language is English.
There is island off coast of Wales called Anglesey.
Ocean between Philippines and United States is called Pacific.
Have you ever been in hospital?
Cola war between two biggest cola companies, Pepsi and Coca Cola, is far from over.
Mark stopped car at corner of street.
My Japanese student wrote most interesting composition.
You could do this as a running dictation exercise, place the text somewhere inside or outside the classroom. Put your students into pairs, one writing and one running. The students take turns to run (or walk quickly) to the text and remember one sentence, return to their partners and whisper it into their partner’s ear, who writes it down. This activity is very good for practising the four main skills: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Writing. It is also a great pronunciation exercise and you will need to encourage your learners to speak clearly.

Jess with Thai students

Once the running dictation activity is finished check to make sure that the sentences they have written are correct. Now, ask your students which words are missing. Establish that they are articles. With their partner, they have to insert the missing articles, the and a/an.

Tip: During this activity monitor your students and try to establish rules that you will do as feedback later on. It is important that you as a teacher are aware of how articles are used.

Activity 2 – Have to / Has to / Had to

Objective – This is a fairly simple grammar activity that focuses on regular routines, how to describe the things that we are obliged to do every day. This lesson focuses on the present, the past and the immediate future.

Level – Elementary to lower intermediate students.

It is likely most of your students will have already been taught this structure before. There are many uses of “have” in the English language and our learners need as much practice as possible so that they can differentiate between, for example, have for possession, have to receive something or used as an auxiliary verb in the present perfect tense to describe experience.

Start by asking your learners the following questions and then encourage them to ask each other first in open pairs and then in closed pairs.

What things do you have to do every day?

What are some of the things you have to do today?

What things did you have to do today?

What did ____________ (use one of your learner’s names) have to do last night?

You can progress this into a milling activity by using the questions below, where your learners have to interview at least two members of the class. Use the different questions (you may want to alter the questions to fit the level of your class so each class member will have to spend some time with their partner.

Find someone who …

1. … has to get up before 7.00am every morning. ______________________

2. … has to go shopping more than once a week. ______________________

3. … has to help make dinner more than twice a week. ______________________

4. … has to write letters to his / her mother regularly. ______________________

5. … has to put the rubbish out every week. ______________________

6. … has to study English every week. ______________________

7. … has to do the washing up every day. ______________________

8. … has to lock up their office every night. ______________________

9. … has to clean their house / apartment every week. ______________________

10. … has to sometimes work during their dinner break. ______________________

For this activity think about how you will arrange the class and rules. For example: if you interview someone, they can’t interview you.

Another game that you can teach to your learners on how to use ‘have’ in the correct tense is called ‘Have you ever’. Get your class to sit in a circle and each write on a piece of paper something that they have done that their classmates don’t know. Encourage your learners to write an unusual activity they have taken part in. For example, I went to see Take That in concert in London.

Collect in the pieces of paper and hand them out to everyone in the circle. Start the activity by asking the learner to the left if they have done what is on the card: ‘Have you ever seen Take That in concert in London?’ If the learner replies no, pass the card onto them who asks the next person to their left the question until you find the person who replies ‘Yes I have!’

Have you ever used any of these activities in your lessons? How did your learners find them?

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