I recently covered ordinal numbers with my beginner student, Natasha. She found first, second, and third easy to learn and use. The challenge, especially in terms of pronunciation, began with fourth and onward.
On camera I limited practice with ordinal numbers to reading randomly selected dates. Off camera I’ve been thinking of ways to give meaningful practice with the limited amount of language she has. I’d like to share some ideas with you, and I’ll modify them for a classroom setting. Please feel free to add to the list if you know a fun and effective way to practice ordinals with beginners.
- Ordering Birthdays. Have students write down the birthdays of five friends or family members. They will partner up with another student and share the dates in chronological order: First is my mother. Her birthday is on January 21. Second is my sister. Her birthday is on February 5. Third is my friend, Ben. His birthday is on April 9. Etc. Then the two students will combine their lists deciding the order of all their friends and relatives: First, your mother. Second, my brother. Third, your sister. Our fathers have birthdays on May 19. They are fourth. Etc.
- Birthday Lineup. As a warm-up, ask students to stand up and form a line according to the order of their birthdays, from January 1 to December 31. (I’m sure some of you already know this warm-up. I don’t know who the original author is, but it’s a great one to include in this list.)
- Holiday Trivia. Write 6-8 names of national holidays on the board in random order. In an ESL setting, I’d use holidays of the country you are in to help students become acquainted with that calendar. (E.g., U.S. holidays: March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day, third Sunday in June – Father’s Day, July 4 – Independence Day.) In an EFL setting, you can mix the national holidays of different countries. In pairs or small groups, ask students to guess the order. They should write their ideas down on paper. After a few minutes, write all the corresponding dates on the board and invite the class to match the holidays to the dates as a way to correct their written work.
- Magazine Marathon. Collect a large number of different magazines (and newspapers). You’ll need at least five magazines for every two students. In pairs students will note the publication dates and put a set of magazines in chronological order, saying the dates aloud every time they make a decision. Two pairs can combine into one group and the process can begin again.