I know that… I think that… I’m happy that… We use such sentences all the time with and without “that.” Some of your basic level students already form sentences with that clauses, not knowing they’re using complex sentences. Well, there’s no need to bog them down with terminology. However, raising awareness of sentence patterns can and should take place even at the lower levels.
The most in-depth I got in a basic English lesson was stating that after “that” we need a full idea (subject + verb). I didn’t even use the word “clause.” I modeled how this structure can follow a verb (know, think, believe, feel) or an adjective (happy, sad, angry).
If you have students studying basic grammar, consider my Basic Grammar_THAT Clasues_handout to give them practice with that clauses. There are three short activities. The first is a noticing task. The other two can be done as speaking activities in whatever format works best for you: pair work, small group work, or as a whole class.
Do you have intermediate students who can handle more challenging grammar? Check out my other handout: Chances Are.
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