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Articles on Teaching ESL, EFL, and TEFL!

 

 

 

 

Relative Clause Crosswords: Teaching Relative Clauses through Massive Comprehensible Input

by Chris Gunn

 

I've always felt that relative clauses were an extremely important structure of language for learners to acquire for several good reasons. The most obvious is that they allow students to make complex sentences like the following:

The thing that bugs me is he took it without asking.

I need to find a place where I can study in peace.

Relative clauses also give students valuable tools for talking about language. They allow students define things that they don't know the word for and understand definitions when they don't recognize or know  a word as in the following:

I need that thing that is used to cut wood. What do you call it?

What is an architect? An architect is a person who designs buildings?

These kinds of word skills are extremely important for creating independent learners who can negotiate meaning when communication breakdowns occur. Thus, I wondered if it is possible to help students acquire these structures by providing massive comprehensible input.

And so, I created a large database of crossword clues all posed in the form of relative clauses (except for one which snuck in there and wasn't discovered until after the crosswords were finished).  My hope is that continued exposure over a 4-10 week period will help solidify the structure for my students.

The real measure of success here is whether or not students begin using them in natural contexts. So far, I offer as anecdotal evidence that the students do show significant improvements in performance when I elicit the structure from them.

Relative Clause Crosswords

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New: Word Skills Crosswords

 

 And that improvement seems to be related to the frequency with which they come back to class with their homework completed. And a few have even started using this structure without elicitation on my part. However, this has not been tested under clinical conditions. And I should also note that a variety of resources were used before this program of massive comprehensible input was embarked upon so that all of the students had exposure to relative clauses of various forms. These other resources included the following:

Guess What Relative Clause Board Game

Young Learners: A Person Who

Describing Jobs I

Describing Jobs II

Describing Jobs III

Describing People Reading Packet Puzzle

 

Young Learners: A Place Where

Describing Places I

Describing Places II

Describing Places Reading Packet Puzzle

 

Young Learners: A Time When

Describing Seasons

Describing Holidays

Describing Seasons Reading Packet Puzzle

 

Young Learners: A Thing That

Describing Tools

Describing Things II

Describing Things Reading packet Puzzle

 

Word skills cloze worksheet generators (click to refresh and get a new worksheet):

People  Places  Times  Things  Mixed

 

For older Learners:

Describing Places

 

Describing Jobs

 

Describing People

 

Describing Scientific Tools

 

Describing Ordinary Things

 

Dictionary of Culture

 

Special Days