teaching prepositions of location
May I introduce Frederick the Frog and Lizzie the Lizard who are going to be my teaching assistants as we look at a simple and fun way to communicate one of those pesky grammar points: Prepositions of Location.
On, in, along, next to, under, behind, near by, on top of, inside, in front of, in the back of, in the middle of………. Prepositions of Location may seem like insignificant tiny little words, but they convey a powerhouse full of meaning. For example, what’s the difference between these two statements?
A. Bernie is in back of the van.
B. Bernie is in the back of the van.
Let’s compare. First of all, the sentences are exactly the same, except that Sentence B. includes the word THE. Those three little letters change the entire meaning of the sentence. In Sentence A, Bernie is OUTSIDE of the van and standing behind it. In Sentence B, Bernie is INSIDE the van sitting in the back seat. Since Prepositions of Location are some of the most feared little words students of English must master, why not make it fun for them!
In my college level ESL Grammar class, I used to dread the day I had to teach Prepositions of Location. Students glazed over after just five minutes making the remaining 55 minutes of class a real drudgery. Then I brought out Lizzie and Frederick. These little sand filled carcasses made the class come alive. Even the men enthusiastically engaged with this lesson—especially once we started throwing Frederick around the room! We passed an entire hour with Prepositions with the help of Lizzie and Frederick. My choices of names even had a language practice objective as “L” and “F” sounds were a bit difficult for the first language group I was teaching.
After introducing Lizzie and Frederick, I began placing them in relationship to each other and making statements using the prepositions. Students repeated 5-6 times. For example:
Alright, so what can you do if you don’t have Lizzie and Frederick? Improvise. Use a koosh ball, a pencil and paper, people in the classroom, a wadded up piece of paper, drawings, or create photographs showing the prepositions of locations you wish to teach.
The Box Game
Christmas is a prime opportunity to introduce cultural backgrounds associated with North American holiday celebrations. Gift giving is one of those Christmas traditions. Here’s an activity that will practice speaking and grammar while sharing the Christmas tradition of gift giving.
To play the Box Game, students roll a set of boxes as if rolling dice. Images that land face up are then used to construct sentences. For example:
· Eleanor got yellow pants for Christmas.
· Bruce received flowers and a robot for Christmas.
· Nit wants jewelry and perfume for Christmas.
· I’m giving my sister some flowers and a teddy bear for Christmas.
Sentences can be made with any tense depending on the class level. Depending on which images land face up, some sentences will be comical such as:
· My grandfather received some flowers and a robot for Christmas.
Students work in groups to read and/or write the sentences, then share with the class.