This lesson is based on something I did with an Upper Intermediate class. With some of them it really did make a big difference to their writing, well, to the ones who took it on board and applied it. For some of them, it was a bit of a challenge and it is not a panacea but a bit like the articles lesson we put up earlier, it just focuses students on why we use pronouns, what they do, and what they refer to, getting them to notice them.
This is also useful as a little extra for FCE/CAE students as in the long multiple choice reading activities there are often questions asking the students to choose what the pronoun in a certain line is referring to.
This lesson can be done with any text and as a follow up activity, I would recommend that you incorporate a bit of a focus on pronouns regularly after doing this lesson.
Not wanting to confuse the students or put them off, I have only focused on ‘it’ in this lesson, though obviously, if you think your class are ready for more then take the idea and expand it however you want, and let us know how it goes.
Aim: to get students to think about the use of ‘it’
Level: Upp Int + (though if you have a strong Int they might be able to do it)
1. Speaking – generating interest: Get students to think about their favourite songs, what are the themes/topics in the song? Chat and compare in pairs or small groups. Maybe ask if anyone has ever written a song.
2. Reading – context and content: What advice is given by the writer, do the students think it is good advice?
3. Vocab – synonym hunt: Ask the students to try to match up the words, explain that the words are in order in the text.
4. Pronouns – what are they doing: Firstly ask the students to underline ‘it’ in the text.
Then ask them to answer the question at the bottom of the page about what the first ‘it’ refers to, the answer is writing in this case.
Now ask the students to think about what each of the other 8 examples of ‘it’ refers to.
5. Pronouns – function: Ask the students whether each ‘it’ in the text is used to help avoid repetition or introduce an idea? Check as a class
Materials: pronouns worksheeets
Follow up activities
1. For homework you could ask the students to find a text and repeat the activities on pronouns, what do they refer to and what is the function?
2. Set students some writing and before they hand it in, get them to examine their own work for pronouns, and to check what they are replacing, or what they refer to.