3 Fun Ways To Teach Prepositions Of Place In The Classroom

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 All of these are prepositions – but you knew that, didn’t you? There are so many parts of speech English language learners need to get to grips with, and prepositions are a tricky one. Don’t let their small size fool you – prepositions are powerful little words. They allow us to show relationships between things. They are littered all over our language and they can be tricky little things. First of all, there are so many of them, including prepositions of time, place and movement. Secondly, because they all look so similar they are easily confused. Finally, if they are taught all at the same time their meanings can become confused.

Thankfully, though it can be tricky, teaching prepositions doesn’t have to be dull and boring. While there are ways and means to teach all the different kinds of prepositions effectively, we can’t talk about all of them in one blog post or we’ll be here til next Sunday. So today we’re going to focus on how to teach prepositions of place. 

What Qualities Should a Good TEFL Teacher Have?

As you can imagine, teaching prepositions of place needs to involve actions and demonstrations in order to make the meanings of the words clear. Because of this, lessons which teach prepositions of place can be engaging and interesting. They need to include games and activities to make the prepositions memorable. Most important of all, they need to be fun and interactive so that your students don’t fall asleep in your lesson!

But first things first. The first thing you need to do is to teach the prepositions. With prepositions of place it makes sense that we do this in a very physical/visual way. Fortunately, prepositions of place are very easy to demonstrate. All you need is an object. This can be anything but it’s usually better if it’s a small object. You can then put this object in different positions relative to another, bigger object. For example, if you use a ball and a table, you can show the students the ball on the table, under the table, next to the table and so on. You might want to use flashcards at this stage.

Read more: Using Flashcards to Teach Vocabulary

Once your learners are familiar with the different prepositions, make sure their pronunciation is good and drill if necessary. You might like to do a few controlled practice exercises to ensure your students really understand the usage of the prepositions. Then you need to play a few games to practise the language. This is where these activities come in: here are three fun ways to teach prepositions of place.

Draw the scene

Your learners don’t have to be Picasso to draw in the classroom – and neither do you, for that matter! Introduce a passage to your learners which includes the necessary prepositions of place. This would usually be a description of a room or a scene. Take some time to identify the different prepositions and focus on their meaning and pronunciation

Once the learners are comfortable with the words, they can move onto producing the words themselves. To do this, each learner must draw a picture. It can be similar to the scene described in the passage or completely different. Once they have finished, in pairs they must describe their picture to their partners who must then try to draw the exact same picture.

This can also be done with a specific room. In other words, the teacher describes their bedroom to their learners who must then draw it. Then the students can describe their own bedrooms for their partners to draw them. Even better, ask students to describe their dream bedroom/bathroom/living room.

Spot the difference

This activity will ensure comprehension. Give each learner a picture. All the learners have the same picture but it is different, but similar, to yours. Describe your picture to your learners – There are two rabbits. The rabbits are sitting on a rock. The learners must listen to your description and identify any differences between the two pictures – No, the two rabbits are sitting in front of a rock.

A similar activity is to spot the difference in the classroom. You will need to prepare the classroom before the lesson. What you need to do is re-arrange objects in the classroom so that they’re not in their usual places. For example, you can put the bin on a chair, or a book under your desk, or a picture behind the door. Your students need to look around and, in groups, find the differences in the classroom. They can write these down and you can ask for feedback after a certain amount of time. 

Preposition race

This is a consolidation or practice activity, or it can be used for revision purposes. Divide the students into teams. The learners in each team must stand in a line. Call out an instruction which includes a preposition of place and a classroom object – for example: The pen is on the desk. The book is under the chair. The girl is next to the bookcase. One person from each team must try to complete the task as quickly as possible.

Okay, we know we said 3 games but as a bonus, here’s another one:

Simon Says

Some of you might remember this from your childhood. The teacher gives commands to the students. Every time the teacher gives the command they must say Simon Says. For example, Simon says “Put the book on your head”. The students must carry out the command. However, when the teacher gives a command without saying Simon Says – such as Put the book on your head – if the students do the activity they are out of the game. 

What you will realise from these activities is that they are quite basic. This is because prepositions of place are taught to learners who are still at a low level. Often this is because they are Young Learners. This is why many of these games are physical, as children learn well with Total Physical Response-type activities. Though prepositions may not be the most exciting language item to teach, by incorporating elements of fun and games into your lessons, you will help make a dry topic a bit more interesting. Having said that, for adult learners, Simon Says or the Preposition Race may not be appropriate, but the others certainly are. 

Read more: How to Use Authentic Materials with Lower Level EFL Classes

Hopefully, these activities will help you when you need to prepositions of place to your learners. They are engaging and fun and should be suitable for students of all nationalities and backgrounds. Have fun!


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