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January 2, 2020

Our Favorite ESL Grammar Lessons

English language learners (ELLs) are estimated to constitute 25% of the student population by 2025, making ELLs the fastest-growing student population in our schools. Despite this explosive growth, many schools are not prepared. In 2016, there were 4.6 million ELL students in U.S. schools, but only 78,000 teachers dedicated to teaching English as a second language (ESL). That’s why it’s more important than ever for all teachers to be prepared to support these students in the classroom.

In this article, we’ve collected some of our favorite ESL grammar lessons to help educators at all levels teach essential vocabulary and language skills.

Elementary ESL Grammar Lessons

Because English vocabulary terms and word endings don’t always follow a pattern, ELL students might need some practice with things like how to handle adjectives and how to discuss common topics like food. The exercises below will give them the practice and vocabulary they need.

  • Adjective Opposites: This lesson helps ELLs learn opposites (e.g., big and small, beautiful and ugly). It includes two activities: a game students can play with a partner and an exercise for individual practice.
  • Food Vocabulary: This article gives several lists of vocabulary words about food, including types of food, adjectives to describe taste, and terms related to cooking and shopping. You can add to these lists with your students and use them to help students talk about their favorite foods, follow recipes, and create shopping lists.
  • Adjective Sentence Completion Guessing Game: This worksheet helps students practice choosing the correct adjective, including knowing the meaning of the word and the correct word ending.

Intermediate ESL Grammar Lessons

Students with some basic ESL skills under their belts will be able to tackle finer points of the language like different forms of nouns and adjectives and different verb tenses. Here are some activities you can share with students to help them refine their skills.

  • Countable and Uncountable Nouns: This detailed lesson covers several difficult issues such as when to use articles (a, an, the), how to make nouns plural depending on their ending, and other issues that are obvious to a native speaker’s ear but hard to explain to ELLs.
  • Comparative and Superlative Forms: This lesson uses a combination of instruction and group exercises to teach students how to construct comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.
  • How Questions: Tense Review: Asking others how things are going is an essential conversation skill. This activity, designed for individuals or partners, helps students practice verb constructions for “how” questions.

Advanced ESL Grammar Lessons

Students who are more proficient at English will be ready for more abstract concepts such as word formation and discussing intangible things like feelings. Check out the lessons below for ideas to engage your advanced ESL students.

  • Academic Vocabulary With More Than One Meaning: This lesson helps students learn about words with more than one meaning. It includes activities such as a game for partners, flash cards, instructional reading, and an essay prompt.
  • Advanced Word Formation: The difference between “baker” and “baked” may be obvious to native English speakers but can be confusing to those not as familiar with word formations. This detailed chart helps students see the difference between nouns, adjectives, and verbs that use the same base word.
  • Language of Feelings: You can do this exercise as a group or in pairs. First, one person makes expressions or lists words associated with a certain emotion, and the others have to guess the emotion. Then you go through a list of emotions and students must offer words, gestures, or sounds associated with each emotion.

Our country has always been a melting pot, and the growth of our ELL population only adds to the richness of our diversity. Teaching English language skills will be one of the greatest gifts you can give your ELL students, to help them more easily share their thoughts and talents with others.

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