ESL Games to Learn Relative Pronouns

Written by philippa jones
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ESL Games to Learn Relative Pronouns
Games help ESL students learn relative pronouns. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

A relative pronoun is a word that connects two ideas within a sentence together, and it refers to a noun that has already been used. "Who," "which," "that," "whoever" and "whichever" are common examples of relative pronouns. ESL (English as a second language) teachers can use word games or exercises during their lessons so that students can learn how to use relative pronouns correctly.

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Omission Game

The omission game is a way for students to learn whether or not a relative pronoun needs to be included in a sentence. Create a list of six sentences that need a relative pronoun. Then make up four sentences more that have relative pronouns that can be removed--and still make sense. Read the sentences out loud to pairs of students in a classroom and ask them to identify the relative pronoun and to decide whether it is needed or not. When this is completed, ask the students to mark each other's answers. To make the students keen to learn and answer correctly, offer a prize such as an early break time or a day off from homework.

Fill in the Blanks

A simple game for students to learn how to use relative pronouns is to play the fill-in-the-blanks challenge. Begin by getting your students to write down "Who," "Which" and "That" on a piece of paper. Put one word on each side of paper. Then read out incomplete sentences such as "I like the shirt [blank] Tom bought" or "The girl [blank] studied is clever." Get the students to hold up the word they think fits the sentence as quickly as possible. Continue to eliminate any student with the wrong answer from the next round until there is only one student remaining.

Relative Pronoun Lucky Dip

It is important that students learn the difference between pronouns and relative pronouns. To teach this, write thirty different pronouns and relative pronouns on individual pieces of paper and fold them up. Put all these words in an empty box and shuffle them around. Then, get the students to take turns pulling a word from the box and opening it up. The aim of the game is for students to decide whether a word is a pronoun or a relative pronoun and then make a sentence using it. To make it more difficult, give each student 10 seconds to complete the task.

Spot the Relative Pronoun

Recognising a relative pronoun within a sentence is another skill that students need to learn. This helps them improve their understanding of complex grammar. Students can learn relative pronouns by spotting them in a poem, newspaper article or an excerpt from a magazine. Simply divide the class into pairs and hand out different paragraphs of English text. Ask students to highlight all the relative pronouns in a piece of writing. Take this one step further by removing the relative pronouns and having students guess which pronoun should be placed in the gap.

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