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You can usually find relative clauses in almost all high-beginner to advanced level textbooks. So, if you’re looking for some help with teaching relative clauses, then you’re certainly in the right place. Keep on reading for all the games and activities you’ll need when teaching this grammatical concept.
Relative Clauses: We Use Them all the Time
Relative clauses are important and we use them all the time in the English language.We just use them naturally, never make mistakes and use reduced relative clauses all the time without even realizing it. The problem comes when teaching relative clauses to students because while important, it’s something that most students aren’t confident in. Relative clauses are also heavy on the grammar and metalanguage (language used to talk about language-“reduced relative clause” for example).
It’s Difficult to Teach Relative Clauses: What to Do?
Skip that chapter in the book and save yourself a headache?
No! It actually is important and useful for intermediate and advanced level students. However, I’m not sure I’d attempt teaching relative clauses to beginners. They often struggle with making even simple sentences!
Become a Powerpoint King or Queen?
No! Rocking out the powerpoint for more than about 5-10 minutes in a row is never a good teaching plan. It goes against everything good and holy student-centered teaching. It’s the least effective teaching method and students usually just end up sleeping.
Attempt to Teach Relative Clauses in a Student-Centred Way?
Yes! Teaching relative clauses in a student-centred way is going to be the best plan for you. Even though it’s a grammar heavy thing, doesn’t mean that you need to lecture.
I remember when I did my CELTA course and had to teach the simple past. I lectured the students on all the ins and outs of it for a few minutes and then assigned some practice questions for my students. At the end, during feedback time, my tutor said it wasn’t terrible, but that it could have been far, far more student-centred. That comment changed the way I taught!
Relative Clause Grammar: Self-Discovery Style
I made this Relative Clause Self-Study Worksheet in an attempt to get students to “discover” the grammar in a way that doesn’t involve me lecturing. I point out the page in the book with the grammar explanation and direct students to refer to it if they’re unsure; all of the students have studied this before so I’m hoping they can activate their prior knowledge and have the basics already.
Controlled Practice for Relative Clauses ESL
After doing this worksheet, students 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.
Somewhat Controlled Practice
Next, they 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 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: Relative Clause Friends and Family 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.
I’ve also used these questions for homework and got students to submit answers via YouTube or in writing.
How to Teach Relative Clauses in 4 Simple Steps
Do you want to see how another teachers deals with this important grammar concept? Then you’ll need to check out this short video below for all the details you need to know:
What About Relative Clause Games and Activities?
Of course, it’s more fun for the students to try out some games and activities to help them practice relative clauses instead of just powering through more worksheets or the textbook. Here are some of my top recommendations for ESL activities you can to practice relative clauses:
Dictogloss Relative Clause Game (or any other grammar or vocabulary too)
Online Practice for Relative Clauses
Are you an English learner who wants to improve their use of relative clauses? You may want to consider doing some online practice. Here are just a few of our top recommendations:
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Have your Say about Teaching Relative Clauses to English Learners
Do you have any tips or tricks, or relative clause activities that you’d like to share with us? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2019-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API