Transformation exercises: writing ideas at sentence level

Published on 29th April, 2010 in Teaching Tips by Frances Watkins

transformLast week we looked at using a text as a springboard for writing. This week’s tip focuses on sentence-level writing, which can be used with any genre of text. Transformation is often considered the domain of higher-level classes but I also find it useful at lower levels.

Transformation tasks require students to compose a new sentence whilst retaining the meaning of the original. The word class and syntax are changed, eg:
The people were very open and I liked that > I liked the openness of the people.
(changes in: subject of the clause(s); word class – adjectives to nouns; the number of clauses)

Following comprehension tasks, you could sometimes exploit a reading or audioscript further by selecting examples for transformation which are appropriate. Provide the new sentence starters, as in the examples below, adjusting the length of the starters to provide more or less support.

They grow tea in the south of the island > Tea is grown in the south of the island (a classic active to passive transformation)
There are more than a hundred countries in the world with ID cards > More than (a hundred countries) have ID cards.
ID cards can fit inside a person’s wallet > You can fit / put ID cards in your wallet.

Other, more general transformation ideas might include:
Past simple to present perfect (or vice versa)
I started teaching 20 years ago > I’ve been a teacher for 20 years.
For to since:
I’ve been a teacher for 20 years > I’ve been a teacher since 1989
Practising different verb patterns:
I think parties are great fun > I enjoy going to parties.

Students become increasingly skilled at transformations with practice, and in the process they can become more knowledgeable about the features and syntax of a sentence.

1 Comment

  • Can someone guide me to a more clear and beautiful presentation on “the usage of tenses”, please!?

    N.Rajkumar on 17 May, 2010