Thursday, October 30, 2014

Relative Clauses- Student-Centered Style

Relative clauses are important and we use them all the time in the English language.  Of course Native English speakers just use them naturally and rarely make mistakes and even use reduced relative clauses all the time without even noticing it.  The problem comes when teaching them to students because while important, it's also something that most students aren't really confident in, and it's also very heavy on the grammar and metalanguage (language used to talk about language-"reduced relative clause" for example).

So what to do? 

1. Skip that chapter in the book and save yourself a headache?  No! It actually is important and useful (for intermediate and advanced level students-I'm not sure I'd attempt this with beginners). 

2. Become a Powerpoint warrior?  No!  It goes against everything good and holy student-centered teaching.  It's the least effective teaching method and students usually just end up sleeping.

3. Attempt to teach it in a student-centered way?  Yes!  It seems like the best solution to me.

I made this Relative Clause Self-Study Worksheet in an attempt to get students to "discover" the grammar without me lecturing about it.  I'm going to point out the page in the book with the grammar explanation and direct students to refer to it if they are unsure; all of the students have studied this before so I'm hoping they can activate their prior knowledge.

After doing this worksheet, students will do a page in their book focusing on the forms (very controlled practice).  They'll compare with their partner first and then we'll check answers as a class.

Next, they'll think about 1 person-a friend or family member and write down 5 or 6 sentences about them, using relative clauses (2-3 object clauses and 2-3 subject clauses) (somewhat controlled but less than previous exercise).  They'll share with their partner who will think of some interesting follow-up questions.

Then, it's finally time for free(r)-practice!  I'll put this up on the screen: Friends and Family Relative Clause Discussion Questions and ask students to choose 2 or 3 questions to answer.  They can think of 3 or 4 sentences/ question, one of which must use a relative clause. They'll share their answers with their partner and have a discussion together.

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