As you can probably guess from some of the ideas I’ve been sharing in recent posts, I’m gearing up to teach a beginner level class! Monday is the big start day and I’m going to do a few activities to see where they are in terms of their language: their understanding of subject-verb agreement is one thing I’ll be looking at. If learners are well versed in this area, or even if they aren’t but have nevertheless studied it a lot, finding activities that are entertaining and interactive is invaluable in helping learners master this fundamental grammar point. Here a six such activities…
1. Song Lyrics
The Music Lyrics Database has almost a quarter of a million songs in its bank. One great thing to do is to simply print the lyrics of a song and get learners to underline the subjects and verbs they find. Clearly, it might be helpful to choose a song that the learners know or like. My advice is to deliberately choose a song that contains use of subject-verb disagreement and discuss why the writer might have chosen to use improper grammar in the song.
2. Fill in the Blanks
Choose a current event from a news website and discuss it, either in class or assign it as a homework task. When you are sure the learners understand enough of the details, provide them with a paragraph or news story about the event, where they have to fill in the blanks for the verbs in each sentence. One really teacher friendly resource for this is Lingle, which allows you to choose a story and then it creates a gap filled text for you based on the verbs used in the text.
3. Crosswords, word searches and other puzzles
Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker website gives you a nice variety of word searches, crosswords and other variations on word puzzles and is extremely easy to use. There’s no need to register and it’s as simple as inputting the data you want in your puzzle and pressing ‘create’. You can easily copy and paste your finished word puzzles into word documents, making this a really flexible and usable resource for developing knowledge of subject-verb agreement.
4. Subject-Verb Mix-Up
The Harcourt School Publisher’s website has a cute little game based on a carousel horse design. For each turn, you create a horse by making an appropriate sentence. The game has a box for a subject, verb and an adverbial phrase. You click on each part to turn the wheel and see the next alternative.
The Grammar-Bytes website offers a wide range of English learning games including a wide-ranging section on subject-verb agreement. These are mostly of the simple ‘type the correct answers in a text box’ variety, with the chance to see the answer displayed for learners who get stuck. A nice addition is that each exercise comes with a printable handout which learners can use for review purposes.
6. The Copy Cat Game
The English-Zone website has the Copy Cat game which provides an interactive, online game set up in quiz format. There is a prompt and then a gap with four possible answers to choose from. This is a simple and very easy to use format, with a button at the bottom of the page supplying your score and the correct answers.
These are just a few ideas for practicing subject-verb agreement. If you have any more suggestions, I’d love you to share them with ma and other blog readers!