Teaching Participial Adjectives to ESL/EFL Students
Nov 27, 2010 Grammar 16931 Views
Choosing between the present and past forms of the participial adjectives imposes problems to ESL/EFL students. English learners often use present and past participial adjectives interchangeably. The current paper discusses those problems and provides two lesson plans in order to teach the participial adjectives using two different methods; the inductive method and the deductive method as well as highlighting the theories behind those methods.
Present participles are verbs ending in -ing that can be used as adjectives. Past participles are the forms used with the perfect tenses and can be also used as adjectives. The participial adjective are used to modify a noun. If the noun being described is the cause of the feelings, the present participle (-ing) is used, for example, The story was depressing (the story is the cause of feeling). If the receiver, the noun that receives the action/feeling, is the noun that wants to be described, the past participle is used, for example, I was depressed (the receiver is I).
Participial adjectives may pose problems to ESL students. Students, for instance, produce sentences such as I am boring instead of I am bored. The reason perhaps is that the two forms are closely related and easily misinterpreted by ESL students (Williams & Evans, 1998).
An effective way that might help students to be able to differentiate between which of those two forms to use is by asking “who the doer or the cause of the feeling/action is” and “who the receiver is”. To sum up, the present participle (–ing) form is used to describe the doer and the past participle (-ed/–en) form is used to describe the receiver’s feeling or condition. With more exercises and activities, the students will be able to know how to use each form correctly.
Many theories of learning suggest that learners acquire the forms of the second language (L2) grammar naturally; similar to the way a child learns his/her first language (L1). According to Stephen Krashen's Theory of Second Language Acquisition (1988) (SLA), "language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill" (pp. 6-7). The best methods according to Krashen (1988), which should be made accessible for students, are those that provide 'comprehensible input' in a comfortable manner in order to allow students to produce utterances when they are ready- not through forcing and correcting (pp. 6-7).
During the transitional period, in which L2 teaching was moving from approaches that emphasized learning rules or memorizing dialogues to approaches that emphasized using language with a focus on meaning, Krashen's ideas had a far reaching impact. Since then, Communicative Language Teaching has been widely implanted, and Krashen's theory has been a source of ideas for research in SLA. Case studies have provided evidence that students' exposure to comprehensible input can significantly improve their L2 without the need for direct instruction (Lightbown & Spada, 2003).
In order to focus on the use of the grammatical rules rather than the form, the inductive method can be used to present the Participial Adjectives to students.
Thornbury (1999, p. 49) states that "the inductive route would seem, on the face of it, to be the way one's first language is acquired: simply through exposure to a massive amount of input the regularities and patterns of the language become evident, independent of conscious study and explicit rule formulation." The inductive method is a way of learning through experience in which students start from specific observations to general ones.
The inductive method can be applied in the classroom in order to present the participial adjectives by providing examples to the students and generate activities then highlight the use and the differences between the present and the past participial adjectives. Lesson plan 1 is a sample for teaching the participial adjectives using the inductive method.
Lesson Plan 1
Time period: 60+ minutes
Teaching aids: black/white board, chalks/markers, exercise sheets
Objective: Students will be able to derive understanding of the participial adjectives through examples.
1. A sheet with passages contain some participial adjectives will be distributed.
2. Students are asked to read it individually and carefully and circle the –ing or –ed forms that work as adjectives.
3. Students discuss their answers in pairs. The teacher checks the students' answers.
4. The teacher writes some different sentences on the blackboard without including the participial adjectives.
5. Students write the correct answer; the present form of the participial adjectives or the past form.
The teacher underlines the students' answers and asks students to explain the rule in order to make sure that students have understood the rule and provides any clarifications needed.
Activity 2 :
1. From a different group of -ing adjectives, e.g. boring, satisfying, relaxing…, students are asked to describe certain events, e.g.:
· The music removed all my stress. (Relaxing)
· The movie made me sleepy. (Boring)
2. Then students write how they felt about the events using the –ed form and discuss them in pairs.
3. The teacher checks the students’ use of the participial adjectives during conversation.
1. In small groups, students start a conversation by asking questions like: "Are you interested in grammar?", "What is the most boring class for you?" The teacher monitors their questions and responses in order to make sure that every student performs well before moving to the next lesson.
2. [Homework] Students write a paragraph about their own classes (their favorite ones, less favorite, interesting and boring ones) using participial adjectives such as interesting, interested, boring, bored…
Many views argue that knowledge of grammar is very essential while learning a language. Some theorists see grammar too complex to be learned naturally. Therefore an explicit knowledge is needed in order to facilitate the learning process.
According to the Behaviorist theory (1950s), Skinner suggests that the best way to learn a language is through practice, imitation, reinforcement and habit formation (in Lightbown & Spada, 2003). Such a theory sees that approaches like Grammar-Translation and Audio-lingual Method which focus on continual repetition and memorization of grammar rules are very effective to second language learners (Lightbown & Spada, 2003).
Focusing on the grammatical rules that lie behind a certain language structure requires the deductive method. In the deductive method, which is also called rule-driven learning, the teacher starts with the rule and then provides examples in which the rule is applied. Many teachers prefer to use the deductive method for teaching grammar because it gets straight to the point and it is a time-saving.
Accordingly, the grammatical rule of the participial adjectives can be introduced to learners followed by examples. The teacher writes the structure of the past and present forms of the participial adjectives and explains the use of those forms. Different exercises that reinforce the application of the rule such as 'fill in the blank', 'choose between the two forms' or 'correct the wrong form' can be given to students to practice the use of the rule. Lesson plan 2 is an example for teaching the participial adjectives using the deductive method.
Lesson Plan 2
Time period: 60 minutes
Teaching aids: Black/white board, chalks/markers, a handout with a list of the present and past forms of the participial adjectives
Objective: Students will be able to understand the rule of the participial adjectives.
1. The teacher writes on the blackboard the structure of the participial adjectives:
- This is an interesting story. Present participle can be used as an adjective
- I am interested in math. Past participle can be used as an adjective
Participial adjectives come AFTER a BE verb. (BE + participial adjective –ing or –ed/-en)
2. The teacher distributes a handout that contains a list of the two forms of the participial adjectives.
3. The teacher explains the rule on when to use the present and past participle forms to form participial adjectives:
- If the noun you want to describe is the cause of the action/feeling, use the present participle form (-ing).
- If the “receiver,” the noun that receives the action or has the feeling, is the noun that you want to describe, use the past participle form.
4. The teacher writes examples and underlines the two different forms of the participial adjectives and explains them:
- The class is boring. (the cause of the feeling is the class)
- The students are bored. (the receiver of the feeling is the students)
5. The teacher distributes a sheet that has an exercise 'Choose between the two forms either the present or the past form of the participial adjectives'. Example:
- Kate is (tired- tiring) because she had a (tired- tiring) job.
6. Feedback: students answer in turns and the teacher makes corrections if there are any wrong answers.
7. [Homework] the teacher assigns a fill in the blank exercise as homework 'Fill in the blanks the correct form of the participial adjectives'
Krashen, S. (1988). Second language acquisition and second language learning. London: Prentice-Hall International.
Lightbown, P.M. & Spada, N. (2003). How languages are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Thornbury, S. (1999). How to teach grammar. UK: Pearson Education Limited.
Williams, J., & Evans, J. (1998). What kind of focus and on which forms? In C. Doughty & J. Williams (Eds.), Focus on form in classroom second language acquisition (pp.139-155). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.