Recently I faced the challenge of explaining article usage to my beginner student, Natasha, whom you may know from my new series on YouTube. I hadn’t planned to focus on the difference between indefinite and definite articles yet, but as you know students’ needs and interests can easily change our game plan. I ended up creating a short lesson on articles. I felt challenged to explain the rules with so few words in Natasha’s vocabulary. Off-camera I offered some explanation in Russian, but I also tried to lead my student to a correct understanding through examples in English in order to make use of the language she does understand.
Some time ago I posted several ideas for presenting and teaching articles. When writing Part One and Part Two of “The Art of Teaching Articles,” I had intermediate and advanced students in mind. I thought it would be a good idea to round out that collection of activities by adding some suggestions for basic level students.
I Spy -
- Pair students up. Student A states what s/he sees. The student should name singular nouns. (“I see a red bag.” = indefinite article)
- Student B locates the object and makes a statement about it. (“Yes. I see it. The bag is on the floor.”)
- Have students take alternate making the opening statements.
Keep & Toss -
- Have students check their pockets, bags, and purses. They should find find two objects to show the class. Demonstrate by taking two items from your desk , bag, or pockets. (Choose one object you want to keep and one that you can throw away.)
- The class will place all objects on a central desk or table. When a person adds to the pile, s/he should identify the object. (“This is a ticket.” / “This is a book.”) Note new vocabulary on the board.
- Help students decide what to throw in the trash. (“What can we throw away?” – Demonstrate by tossing one item in the trash can.) Students can call out their suggestions. (“The paper…. the receipt…”)
- Allow students to claim the remaining items on the table. Demonstate by claiming yours. (“The blue pen is mine.”)
- You may choose to call attention to the pattern of articles just used. Explain the importance of first and second mention as well as “the” being a specific reference to something – an object understood by the listener.
Do you have a favorite way of presenting and practicing articles at the beginning level? Please feel free to post your ideas.