Archive for Tag: improvising

Monday, November 5, 2018

We Interrupt This Lesson…

Kristine Fielding teaches ESOL at Lone Star College in Houston, Texas.

What do you do when you are teaching a grammar concept only to find that your students don’t understand a vital underlying idea? This happened to me a few weeks ago when I was teaching level 1 students where to place adverbs of frequency in a sentence.

As you recall, AoF go before an action verb and after a “be” verb. As I was demonstrating this with sentences on the board, students seemed confused. Though we had covered the two types of verbs in a previous lesson, and then followed that lesson with other lessons practicing verbs, students seemed unsure of themselves when it came to identifying types of verbs. In order to proceed with my lesson, a small detour was required.

However, this unexpected side trip could have easily morphed into an adventure across the grammar galaxy. Verbs are their own wormhole within a wormhole. You have the 12 tenses, which can become confusing in their patterns and usage and nuances, but when you add on gerunds and infinitives, it’s almost like you’ve stepped into another dimension. Verbs acting like nouns and adjectives?

I quickly decided that the idea students really needed to know was “be” verbs (only three in present tense, which is what we were focusing on) and the seemingly endless list of action verbs. Later, I could go back and address verbs in more depth as needed. But to steer us back in the right direction, I improvised.

I made a T-chart on the board and labeled each side as “Be Verbs” and “Action Verbs.” Then I listed the three simple present “be” verbs on the board and then asked students to tell me things they do every day, like “go to work,” and “drive home.” I wrote the verbs from their phrases on the board under “Action Verbs.” (Asking students to tell me about their routines was handy because our topic for the day was “Daily Routines.”)

Then I told students we were going to play a game.

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