by Tara Arntsen
Prepositions of place are an important part of the English language and will enable students to create more complex sentences. The meanings of basic prepositions and prepositional phrases are incredibly easy to demonstrate in a classroom and students can often guess their meanings.
How To Proceed
Warm up – Prepositions
Use this opportunity to review vocabulary you plan on using in this lesson. In this example words including book, desk, chair, clock, pencil, and teacher would be good to review. Crisscross is an excellent game to start the class with. Have all the students stand. Ask questions like “What is this?” while holding up a pen or pointing to an object. Have students volunteer to answer by raising their hands. Choose a student and if they answer correctly they may sit down. Repeat the exercise until all students are seated. In large classes the volunteer can choose to sit either in their row or column of students to sit. Usually no more than about ten questions are asked. The exercise should take approximately five minutes.
Introduce – Prepositions Pronunciation
Write the target vocabulary on the board. The words below are a good set to begin with:
– in front of
– next to
The vocabulary you introduce may depend on the textbook being used. Demonstrate the pronunciation of each word one at a time having students repeat it after you. If certain students appear not to be participating, call on them individually to pronounce the word for the class. You may want to start a chain where the first student says the first vocabulary word, the next student says the second, and the third student says the third, etc until all students have had the opportunity to say at least one word aloud. In a small class feel free to repeat this exercise several times and encourage them to speed up with each cycle while still maintaining proper pronunciation. Drilling is important however it is often boring for students so adding in some fun elements can encourage them to participate.
Introduce – Prepositions Meaning
Try to have the students come up with the meaning or translation of each word. Use example sentences such as “I am in front of the board. Now I am in front of the desk. Now I am in front of Jane.” and change your position in the classroom accordingly. Use as many example sentences as you can think of for each preposition trying to get the students to guess its meaning before writing it on the board and moving onto the next one. Drill pronunciation and translation before continuing.
To test comprehension, do a short exercise. Tell students to put their hands on their desks, above their desk, behind their backs or to put their books in their desks, under their desks, etc. Perhaps a few students would like to give it a try so why not have them give a few instructions as well. A simple worksheet where students match prepositions with pictures would be good practice as well.
Introduce – Prepositions Q & A
Ask students questions such as “Where is my/your/the book/pen/desk/clock?” Demonstrate the pronunciation of the question and answer. The model dialogue for this lesson should resemble the structure below:
– A: Where is (my/your/Sam’s/the) (noun)?
– B: It’s (preposition) the (noun).
Ask your students to practice the model dialogue in pairs for about five minutes taking turns being A and B. Next ask for volunteers to demonstrate their conversations and encourage them to be creative instead of being limited to the vocabulary you’ve already used in the lesson. Correct any errors with clear explanations and demonstrations before moving on.
Ask students to write five sentences using prepositions or use a game for further practice of prepositional phrases and sentence construction. An exercise like Jumbled (where students work in groups to arrange a set of words into five to ten sentences in a race against other groups) or Scrambled (where students have a worksheet with sentences written out of order that they must rearrange) is great practice.
Reading a story
Find topic that will interest your students and a choose a short story about it, even a paragraph or two will do. As you and read through it, let the class spot the prepositions. This will help them remember the correct way to use them.
As a class review the exercise from the previous step. Students can volunteer to read one of their written sentences aloud, groups can take turns reading one of their sentences from Jumbled, or students can read their un-Scrambled sentences aloud. Whatever exercise you’ve done, this is a key stage in catching mistakes. Often other students can assist their peers in making corrections but if not you may need to review certain problem areas.
Common Examples for Prepositions of Place
– In – the point itself “I will meet you in the library,” “We live in an apartment.”
– On – the surface “Put your books on the table.” “Please sit on the chair.”
– At – the general vicinity “Can we meet at the gate before class? “I found these shoes at the store on the corner.”
– Inside – something contained “Hang your coat inside the cupboard.” “Pack the books inside the container.”
Prepositions are easily reviewed throughout the school year by being added to random exercises. For instance, typically prepositions would be covered before moving onto the past or future tenses. Adding prepositions to sentences used in practicing those new tenses should be an easy review for your students and keep them aware of the use of prepositions throughout their studies.
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