I have already taught the verb to be many times. But this year I failed exemplarily. So I stopped and spent a week planning a sequence of lessons to really teach this basic grammar point. In these posts, I would like to share the lesson plans and materials I have created.
To be able to teach this grammar, I found out that I need to teach the pronouns first. If my students fail to understand the pronouns, they cannot learn the grammar.
So I start with the following video. First, students listen and repeat the pronouns. It is a good idea to tell the students the meaning of the words in their MT now. Otherwise, they might be confused and they will learn nothing.
Next, students watch the video and supply the correct pronoun.
Third, print the following game. It is best to print it on a slightly heavier paper and laminate it. Ask the students to use their scissors and cut the first two columns. Students need to cut the papers into similar squares.
Once they finish, they shuffle the cards and then they try to match the pictures with pronouns. The teacher goes around and checks their answers.
Fourth, display or print the following graphic organiser and explain the grammar.
Fifth, ask students to use the graphic organiser and write as many sentences as possible. Set a time limit (5 minutes are enough) and make it a competition.
Sixth, ask the students to cut the third column of the game into cards. Now, they use only the black and red words. They shuffle the cards and then they match them. The teacher checks their answers again.
Seventh, students cut the last column into cards and they play the following memory game. They turn all the cards face down. Students work in pairs and they take turns. One of the students turns three cards. If she is able to create a sentence which consists of three colours (black, red and blue), they can keep the cards. The winner is the student who collects most cards. My students love this game and they really care if the sentences are correct.
Eighth, students place the black, red and blue cards in front of them and the teacher says a sentence in their MT and the students make the sentence in English using the cards.
Ninth, students work in pairs and one of them says a sentence in their MT and the other student makes it using the cards. Activities 8 and 9 are possible only if the students share the same MT. If this is not the case, just skip the activities.
Tenth, students watch the following video and they say the whole sentence adding the verb to be in the correct form.
By following the sequence of activities, my students mastered the pronouns and corresponding forms of the verb to be. In the following lesson, I am going to teach the short forms of the verb to be.
My first English language teaching activity got published in August 2008. It happened on the site http://www.teachitelt.com. The site regularly sent me the royalties and I created several more activities for them. Unfortunately, recently they sent me an email that the site is going to finish on 30th March 2016. The good thing is that they returned the rights to me and I am allowed to used the materials I created in any way I like and publish them wherever I like. So, here I share the first lesson plan I created. It is called Embarrassing Dates.
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Embarrassing dates – warmer
Students should not look at their handouts until they have heard the story. The topic is very appealing for teenagers, but avoid eliciting their own experience at the beginning of the lesson as they will have the chance to talk about it at the end.
Tell them the following story. It is true story which happened to me, so you can introduce it as a story which happened to one of your friends and colleagues to catch students’ interest.
‘When I was about 17, I used to attend dancing lessons after school. One evening, after a lesson, my schoolmate and I were going home. It was late and it was dark. We came to a bus stop and we were waiting for a bus when I noticed a beautiful blond girl also waiting.
We started talking to her and we soon found out that she went to the same school and that she loved literature, like me. My friend wasn’t interested, but I liked her very much and we talked the whole way back.
I couldn’t sleep that night. I was thinking about her and remembering everything we said. I couldn’t wait to see her again.
So, the next morning I started looking for her, but I couldn’t find her for some time.
In the end I found her in a classroom. I was a bit shocked, because she didn’t look quite as perfect as the night before, but I thought that looks weren’t that important. So we agreed to go shopping that afternoon.
But the afternoon turned out badly. I soon found out that she was really bossy and she ordered me around the shop like a small boy. I felt embarrassed and I was happy to say goodbye. We never met again.’
Now ask the students to look at the pictures and put them into the correct order:
Answer key: c, e, b, a, d, f
Now ask the students to retell the story. You could have them work in pairs and take turns to recount a picture each, or tell it cumulatively, repeating what their partner said before moving on to the next picture. Monitor and correct. At the end, ask one or two students to tell the whole class the story or have students tell it round the class. You could then give whole class feedback.
Embarrassing Dates – vocabulary
This exercise contains most of the words that might cause problems for your students in the reading comprehension.
1.i, 2.b, 3.e, 4.f, 5.a, 6.d, 7.h, 8.c, 9.g
Sudoku has been very popular recently, but I bet that your students have never done one with words. It gives them practice writing and memorising the new vocabulary. Afterwards, you could have students cover the words in the matching task with a blank sheet of paper and write the words back in next to the definitions.
Embarrassing Dates – reading
The questions in this reading comprehension exercise should not be very challenging for your students.
1. Todd’s; 2. Steven; 3. Michael; 4. Anthony and Tony
Embarrassing Dates – grammar
Unlike other grammar exercises this one does not concentrate on one or two rules but on a language as a whole, so it will be difficult for your students, but they can learn a lot by analysing their mistakes. There may, of course, be correct answers that are not identical to the original sentences.
Crossword answer key
1 fell down; 2. twin; 3. embarrassing; 4. showed up; 5. chat up; 7. clap; 8. wallet; 9. cute
Solution: first date
Embarrassing Dates – Follow up
If you have time, you could ask your students to draw one of the stories from task C then exchange it with their partner and re-tell their partner’s story.
You could get older students to speak about their own embarrassing dates.