ESL Conjunction Lesson Ideas

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Conjunctions join two independent clauses to create a longer, more sophisticated sentence. Conjunctions connect two similar or two opposing ideas, using the terms such as and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so, although, because, since and unless.

Use these ideas to review the use of conjunctions or when teaching them as new concepts to English Second Language (ESL) students.

Matching Sentences

Review or teach conjunctions by having students recognise how to properly place them in a sentence. Prepare sentences using conjunctions. For beginning classes, use several examples for the use of about six conjunctions, and for more advanced classes you can use more sophisticated vocabulary. Write the sentences on the board, omitting the conjunctions. Ask the students to suggest ideas for which conjunctions to add to the clauses to create logical, grammatical correct sentences. Your students can have fun with this exercise; if they make mistakes, allow other students to explain why the sentence is funny with the wrong conjunction, or give reasons why such a sentence would make no sense.

Role Play- Dialogues

Allow your students to practice using conjunctions in spoken English with a role-play exercise. This activity is appropriate for adults or teenagers. Put the class into groups of two. Tell your students to present a dialogue to the class where one person makes a request of the other (for example, to go on a date, to babysit their sibling, or to help with moving.) Have one try to make excuses using as many sentences with conjunctions as possible. For example the person refusing a date could say "I would like to go out with you, but I'm busy tonight" or "I cant go out tonight because I have to babysit my brother, and I have too much homework." Don't let the exercise go on too long; let the dialogue end on its own, or stop it yourself after about three minutes. Don't allow students to prepare a script; give the prompt and immediately require each pair to speak "on the spot." This will challenge them to practice spontaneous self-expression in English rather than reciting script.

Writing with Conjunctions

Test your students' writing skills and give them a chance to think about and process their sentences before creating them. Provide your students with a particular subject to write about using conjunctions. For example, ask them what they like and don't like about their hometown, or the city where they currently live. Give a few ideas on what to comment on, such as climate, population, cost of living, local attractions, food, nightlife, nature, or traffic. For example, a student may write "I enjoy the warm weather even during winter, but the summers are too hot." or "This city has excellent public transportation, so it's very easy to get around." Allow them to use dictionaries. Start this exercise at the beginning of class and let it lead to a discussion/debate where students can practice their spoken English.