Responding to students’ own linguistic problems: activities

Published on 1st April, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

Last week we looked at collating different students’ problems over a string of lessons. These errors can then be focused on in various ways:

Spot the mistake – Compile a hand-out with 7-11 sentences, each with one mistake which students try to correct, e.g. The doctor gave me a receipt for my stomach problems (highlighting the error greatly facilitates the task).
Gap-fill – Compile a gapped hand-out, e.g. The doctor gave me a ________for my stomach problems. Students complete the sentence.
Multiple-choice – Students circle the answer they think is correct, e.g. The doctor gave me a receipt / recipe / prescription for my stomach problems.
Translation – In a monolingual class, this is a feasible option. Simply write down the sentence in their first language for students to translate.

Pair checking and dictionary checking can be integrated into the above. For variety you can also cut the sentences into single strips, sticking them around the walls of the classroom. Alternatively, cut them into strips for students to look at in twos or threes, turning over only one at a time.

Add a competitive team element to these simple ideas: let students work through the work-sheet alone or in pairs but without a dictionary. Then convert this into a team game, via a) a grammar auction or b) a ‘pub quiz’ or c) a board race. For the latter, draw on the whiteboard a horizontal ‘ladder’ for each team, with X number of ‘rungs’ and a start and finish point ( the start is on the left). Draw or stick a different ‘counter’ for each team at the starting point, e.g. a different paper flag for each team. The team’s counter is then moved a rung to the right along their ladder for every correct answer, towards the end square.