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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

ESL Teacher Blog:Teaching Irregular Verbs Lexical Approach Style

Famously, the Lexical Approach differentiates between vocabulary (as a stock of individual words) and lexis (that includes word combinations or meaningful language chunks in addition to single words). Grammar plays second fiddle to lexis that is central to creating meaning; therefore, to use language fluently, students need to develop a vast arsenal of lexical chunks.

While using a correct form of an irregular verb is important, its choice (past simple or participle) is driven by meaning. Through input (readings, recordings, picture descriptions), provided by a teacher, students will gradually gain understanding of how the forms are used in real life situations.

The following activities can be beneficial to help students retain the forms as well as ensure they apply these forms in correct contexts:

1. Build phrases. Since each of the phrases includes a verb, possible combinations will include verb+noun, verb+prepositional phrase (or a prepositional verb - with a preposition associated with a particular verb) or verb+adverb combinations:

run a marathon/errands
run for mayor/into debt
run loose

After the phrases are built, follow with questions that require the past and past participle forms:

Did you run any errands on Sunday?
Have you ever run for a President of the Student Council?
Do you know a successful business that is run by women only?
I would have run a quick scan for you if you had asked me.

2. Focus on a specific group of verbs on the list that you’ve provided in class (e.g.: verbs 10 to 20). Ask to find a verb that can go together with a list of words that is written on the board. Try to have the verb in a different positions e.g.:

_____ fingers along the page/through his hair
_____ short of money
a river/well ____ dry
a cold _____ its course

Have students think of sentences with these combinations focussing on grammar currently discussed in class.

The deeper and broader way of working with the irregular verbs overtime will ensure students gain understanding of a variety of meanings making grammatical structures more obvious, logical and memorable. After all, many students consider the table of irregular verbs their forte, yet can’t progress beyond the basic levels of English.
POSTED BY Olga Galperin AT 11:48 PM
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