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A TESOL activity for teaching the passive voice!





The Inca Empire: A Content-Based Approach

to Teaching the Passive Voice

 by Chris Gunn



Inca Empire Fact Cards

Inca Empire Student Sheets

Inca Empire Test

This activity is a retelling activity. Time and time again, my experience has been that retelling activities --especially content-based ones-- have the most lasting effect in terms of what students will be able to recall a week later without any review.

The activity is simple: students each get an information card about some aspect of the Inca Empire. They memorize the content of that fact sheet, though they don't have to memorize it word for word.

The teacher takes the cards away. The students exchange what knowledge they have and take notes. After everybody has exchanged their knowledge, the class takes a test. They can use the notes that they have taken when they take the test.

How much the passive voice is emphasized is up to the teacher. It can become a central feature of this lesson or not even mentioned. Most of the facts written about the Inca Empire are in passive voice. Where I teach in Korea, most students know about the passive voice, but use it poorly. I point it out to them and ask them to use the passive voice for explaining and insist that they have to write passive voice sentences when they take the test. But again, this is only because they already have some knowledge of the passive voice. Other teachers might just want to emphasize the facts and have students write two or three word answers when they take the test.

Other passive voice activities can be found in the ESL activities section and the passive voice flashcards.