Fill-in-My-Blanks: A writing activity to practice conjunctions and transitional words

LEVEL: low intermediate to advanced

LANGUAGE FOCUS: conjunctions and transitional words (sentence connectors)

OBJECTIVES: To understand the function of these structures and to identify when it’s appropriate to use them.

 

STEP 1 – Present the conjunctions/ transitional words you have selected for your students. With lower level students, you may choose coordinating conjunctions such as and or but. With upper level students, you may select transitional words and phrases such as moreover or in spite of. Need help deciding? Try Joe Landberger’s list or the one shared on Wikipedia. I’d suggest presenting only one or two at a time.

STEP 2 – Have students compose a short paragraph in which the target words or phrases are used. You may require only 3-4 sentences from lower level students. You may ask upper level students to produce 4-6 sentences. Prompt them with questions that focus on general knowledge or general experience:

  • How do you like to spend your weekends?
  • What hobbies did you have as a child?
  • Name two places you wish to visit and explain what you want to travel there.
  • Etc.

Model (with moreover):

        I like to spend my weekends at home. I work and study during the week, and I’m always running somewhere. On the weekend, I just want to stay in one place. Moreover, by Saturday there’s a lot of housework to do. I do laundry and clean in the morning. In the evening I make a nice dinner and watch TV.

STEP 3 – Correct students’ work, focusing on their use of the target words or phrases. Next, have them rewrite their paragraphs without the conjunctions or sentence connectors.

Model (with moreover):

        I like to spend my weekends at home. I work and study during the week, and I’m always running somewhere. On the weekend, I just want to stay in one place. By Saturday there’s a lot of housework to do. I do laundry and clean in the morning. In the evening I make a nice dinner and watch TV.

STEP 4 – Students pair up and exchange compositions. They must read their partner’s work and identify where the conjunction or sentence connector would function best. Alternatives can be discussed. This can be repeated two or three times with different partners.

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