When teaching possessives to speakers of English as a second language, use engaging and dynamic presentations, lessons and quizzes to help your students internalise forms and rules. Alternate both written and oral practice, giving the class a chance to learn in whatever the preferred learning style while simultaneously having them exercise and develop their relative weaknesses.
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When first introducing possessives, create interesting examples that directly relate to your students. For example, when you teach the possessive adjectives "my," "your," "his," "her," "our" and "their," have all the students put three items on their desks. They may take items from their pockets, binders, backpacks or purses. Say to one student, "Give me your pencil," emphasising the word "your." Hand the pencil to another student and ask "Is this your pencil?" Continue the activity, exchanging students' things until you have covered all the possessive adjectives.
Once your students have begun to pick up their possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns, have them brainstorm English language songs with possessives in the titles. Play them clips of some popular songs, seeing how quickly they can identify the possessives. For example, you could play clips from "My Girl," "My Sharona" or "I, Me, Mine." If your students all speak the same native language, have them independently think of songs titles that include possessives in their native language. Have each student translate a song title into English, using the correct possessive, and see whether any classmates recognise the song.
Family member vocabulary makes an excellent complement to a grammar lesson on possessives. By studying the two together, students can practice statements like "She is my mother," "He is my brother" or "She is my grandmother, my father's mother." For an extra challenge at the very end of the unit, see whether any students can draw out absurdly long strings of possessives, like "He is my cousin's mother's niece's husband's friend's teacher."
Possessive Adjectives vs. Pronouns
Learning possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns all together can overwhelm some students, as many of the words look alike and contain somewhat similar sounds. To help resolve any confusion, have your students practice transposing sentences with possessive adjectives into sentences with possessive adjectives, and roughly the same meaning. For example, if you give a student the sentence "This is my car," the student might transform it into "This car is mine." To focus the entire activity on your students, have them write their own sentences using one possessive form and then pass them to their classmates to transform.
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