A PASSIVE ACTIVITY FOR THE EFL CLASSROOM

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MacBeth was written by William Shakespeare.

The man was arrested for burglary.

Grapes are pressed to make wine.

He is considered to be the leading expert in the field.

These are all examples of passive constructions. The passive is taught to English as a Foreign Language learners at around Intermediate level and above. While it is not a very common structure in everyday English, it is a useful one and needs to be taught to our learners – especially for those needing to learn Academic English. However, it ca be quite confusing and many learners find it quite tricky to grasp the concept.

One way we can help our learners learn to manipulate the structure and use it effectively is to give them games and activities which will allow them opportunities to utilise the language. Here is one such game which will help your learners not only practise constructing the structure but also become familiar with the situations in which we usually use the passive.

The justification behind this activity is the importance of the different situations in which we use the passive. Understanding the contextual use of the structure makes it easier to use it appropriately. The passive is used to talk about films, novels and inventions, crime, processes and academic opinions. For this activity, the learners come up with passive constructions related to these situations and their classmates will need to guess who or what they are talking about.

First, the teacher needs to provide a model for the learners. The teacher writes on the board:

Country

Invention

Product

Film/Novel

The teacher chooses one category and an example of the category and comes up with a few sentences to describe it.

For example, Argentina:

It is known for wine.

Rugby and football are played there.

Eva Peron was born there.

Spanish is spoken there.

The teacher tells these sentences to the learners who must then guess which country is being spoken about. Obviously, the activity will last longer the harder it is! Once they have guessed correctly, the learners are given time to make their own choice and come with their own sentences.

In this way our learners will focus on the content of what they are saying while still practising the passive structure. They will be familiarising themselves with the situations in which they can use the passive and so will feel more comfortable and will be more likely to use the passive in real life situations outside the classroom.

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