Correct word order has a significant role in teaching a foreign language. Many learners automatically order the words in a sentence as in their native language. However, since different languages have various sentence structures, ESL teachers should be very attentive in dealing with this topic. Despite its difficulty, it can be taught in fun and entertaining ways to primary school children. Here we present activities that will definitely come in handy to practise word order with your kids.
One of the fascinating ways of practising word order with kids is definitely with Rainbow order. Distribute the mixed parts of the sentence to your students and ask them to put the words in the correct order according to rainbow colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). To make it more fun, you can also play the rainbow song. Children really enjoy doing this activity.
Use question cards to introduce the rules of word order to your students, such as Who/what, what happens, where, when, etc. Provide with an example (Bob goes to school every day.) and get your students to put the mixed words in the correct order.
Expanding the phrase
Write a word on the board. Ask your students to take in turns and add extra words to make it into a longer and longer sentence. It must be a logically coherent sentence. Students cannot remove words, but they can change the order while adding new words. My kids really enjoy this activity, especially when I ask them to use their imagination and expand the phrase in a funny way.
- A black cat
- A big black cat
- Tom saw a big black cat
- Tom saw a big black cat in the forest
- Tom saw a big black cat in the forest last night
Removing words from a sentence
This activity is considered to be the opposite of the previous one. Here you provide your students with a long sentence and ask them to take turns and to remove words so that it always remains a sentence.
- Kate doesn’t like cartoons because they are loud, so she doesn’t watch them.
- Kate doesn’t like cartoons because they are loud, so she doesn’t watch.
- Kate doesn’t like cartoons because they are loud.
- Kate doesn’t like cartoons.
Ask your students to work in pairs or in groups. Choose a topic that the students are familiar with (weather, animals, food, jobs, etc) and get them to make up as many correct and long sentences as possible.
Group A: Crocodiles are very dangerous animals.
Group B: Many people are afraid of spiders and not mice.
Group A: It is very difficult to survive crocodile’s attack because they attack very quickly.
Group B: Last summer, when we were staying in a forest, we suddenly saw a wolf near our tents.
This is a guessing game. Choose a player, who will think of a verb his/her classmates must guess what verb this student is thinking of. The verb is replaced by a nonsense word such as “gringle”. The students then ask questions, like this:
— Can you gringle at night?
— Who gringles more — girls or boys
— Do you use a special object to gringle?
— When do you usually gringle?
— Is gringling a fun or a serious action?
Why do people gringle?This game is a magnificent tool for practising word order in interrogative sentences with your kids. With the help of numerous questions, they revise different types of questions, such as General and Special ones.
This was the list of the activities that I usually use with my kids to practise word order. I am sure you are aware of some other fascinating ways as well. Share them in the comments below.