Producing your own grammar activities

Essay by control902College, Undergraduate February 2009

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There are many ways of revising and consolidating grammar, but I've found it's often useful to give students short passages containing grammar mistakes which are characteristic of the student's level, nationality, and what the teacher may have identified as areas of particular strength or weakness.

What kind of grammar?I've been teaching in Italy for several years, and Italians characteristically use the Present Perfect to describe the past. Thus, 'Yesterday, I have bought a new computer,' is a very typical mistake, even for Italian-speakers at an upper-intermediate level, because it's a direct translation from the Italian to English. I've used the example passage included below, ('Carl Smith'), with many intermediate level Italian students. It contains several instances where Present Perfect is used erroneously instead of the simple past. The intention is not to catch the student out, but to identify and focus attention on areas of difficulty which may still be problematic.

Other characteristic and problematic grammar points at this level for Italian speakers include the use of going to and present continuous to describe plans and intentions, rather than will, the position of adjectives before the noun, the use of articles, comparative and superlative constructions:, conditional structures - which are constructed and used somewhat differently in Italian, and, of course, verbs with irregular past forms. These problems are universal, but as I say they often present particular difficulties for Italian speakers at the intermediate level, (and above)Use your imagination!Writing these kinds of passages can be good fun and an opportunity for the teacher to exercise her/his creative writing talents. Use your imagination: write about yourself, Britain, your country, someone you know, customise what you write to fit the needs and personal characteristics of the student, but remember to keep it relatively simple: it's a grammar test, not...