I’m a big fan of using short articles in lessons and although I’m loathe to admit it, the Metro is a great source of material as the articles are usually quite short and not too difficult for the students. Very often, after I’ve taught a language point, I like to revisit it a week or a few days later. My favourite way to do this is to examine it in its natural surroundings. For the passive voice, I very often use newspaper articles.
This is a nice little lesson I did a few years ago. I’ve always enjoyed it. Try it out and let me know what you think.
Material: passive- an article
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours (depending on follow-up activities)
Level: Pre-int and upwards
I like to introduce this with the following discussion questions. It gets the students warmed up, gets them talking from the beginning of the lesson and can be revisited later.
- do you read much in English?
- what have you read so far today?
- do you read English newspapers?
- what are the benefits of reading English newspapers?
Feel free to do any error correction you like after this but I think question 4 is the most important. By the end of the lesson you want them to realise that articles can be used, not only for vocabulary and reading practice but also to consolidate their grammar.
I would put their answers from question 4 up on the board, or take a note of them somewhere to refer back to later.
Explain to the students they’re going to read an authentic article from the newspaper and direct them to the prediction questions a the top of the material. NB: make sure they read the second article about the lollipop man. A little bit of ICQing here is important.
Once they’ve come up with some ideas, ask them to skim the article (give them a time and stick to it or you’ll have students painstakingly trawling their way through this tiny article, underlining every second word).
Check their ideas as a class and if needs be, display an image of a lollipop man.
Direct the students towards the key vocabulary and allow them to work together without dictionaries to match the definitions to the words/phrases in the text.
if you like, you can allow them to check their ideas with a dictionary afterwards.
Post-reading: Engage with the text
At this point I think it’s hugely important that students engage with the text in a meaningful way. They now know the key words and have access to the entire text but what do they think about it? I’ve avoided providing questions here as I don’t like making it an exercise as such.
I usually sit down with the students, try to get them in a circle or small groups and just chat about the article. What do they think? Do they have this kind of job in their country? Is it necessary? What are their local councils like? Do they have much contact with them? Would you find this kind of story in their newspapers?
You just want them engaging and giving an opinion. Judge it yourself and if you need to give them guiding questions, then go for it.
At this point, you want to draw their attention to the passive in the text. I’ve pulled out one sentence for them. I’d start by asking them if it’s active or passive and how they know.
then let them off to answer the questions below and discuss as a class when they’re finished.
Bring back out their answers from question 4 at the beginning of the lesson and ask them if there’s anything else they can use articles (or any reading text) for. At this point hopefully they’ll mention grammar and you can chat about noticing language points in texts and the benefit of taking a second to look how it’s being used.
I’ve given you some passive V active practice sentence transformation on the second page that students can do for homework or in class as immediate practice.
I’ve also given you a second article that again can be done for homework or in class. Students can immediately practise what they have learnt above and use the article to notice the passive voice. I would also show them how it can be used to gather word chains (groups of words in a text on the same topic), in this instance it’s CRIME vocabulary.
If you’ve done the first follow-up exercise, I’d get them to do some writing practice using the passive voice and the crime vocab. What you end up with is an article based on what they’ve gleaned from the articles. The idea is that they can go out and try the same with other articles and texts.