Grammar class is part of every ESL student’s experience. Learning the building blocks of language is essential, and it takes time and effort.
And while there is value to running through oral and written grammar exercises in class, grammar can also be creative and fun if you include learning centers in your classroom. Not only that, learning centers put some of the responsibility for learning on students and keep them motivated. Whether you are new to learning centers or are an old pro, try one of the following learning centers designed just for grammar class when you are looking for a break from the ordinary classroom exercises!
Try These 8 Simple Learning Centers for Your Grammar Class
A cloze exercise is a measure of a student’s general grammar knowledge. Creating a cloze exercise is very easy. Take a text that is at or below the reading and grammar level of your students. Type the selection out replacing every fifth word with a blank. It does not matter what part of speech the eliminated words are. Students then read the passage and fill in the blanks with logical, grammatical words. It does not matter if the content of what the student writes matches that of the original. The goal is simply to complete the blanks so that the selection reads grammatically. Have students put their completed cloze exercises in a folder or inbox for you to check once they are complete.
Do you have any worksheets leftover from previous years’ classes? Put them to use in a learning center. When your students want to practice their grammar, they simply choose a sheet and fill in the answers. After students are finished, direct them to an inbox or folder where they can place papers that they would like you to check. If you don’t have any leftover sheets but do have material you don’t have time to cover in class, put those out instead. Again, provide a folder in which students can put the completed papers.
If you are lucky enough to have a computer with internet access in your classroom, it can provide you with a great learning station. Choose the online grammar quiz site that you think is best for your students (such as self-study grammar quizzes), and set it as your homepage. When your students have time for learning centers, they need only go online and choose the quiz they wish to take. If your students aren’t ready for quizzes, you could also bookmark various grammar instruction websites that they can read during free learning periods.
Word Order Challenge
This learning center challenges students to put random words in the correct order in a sentence. Provide your students with a stack of index cards, each with one random word written on it. Make sure your set has words from every part of speech. Students who wish to use the center should shuffle the cards and choose five without looking at them. The students should then try to arrange those five words into one or more sentences using correct word order. If students are unable to arrange the five words into a grammatical sentence, have them make cards for the words that they need to complete their sentence or sentences. For example, if a student chooses the words man came house on Tuesday they would need to make three cards to compose a complete sentence: to, my, and the. The sentence would then read The man came to my house on Tuesday. If you like, challenge students to score their sentences. They earn two points for every word they use from the deck and lose one point for every word they must write on a card to complete their sentence.
Error Correction Station
Sometimes, the best way to learn grammar is to correct someone else’s mistakes. Rather than writing error laden sentences on the board for your students at the beginning of every class, put them in a learning center. Fold a sheet of paper in half vertically so you have a flap that lifts upward. On the top flap, write a sentence with one or more errors, and note in a corner of the flap how many errors the sentence has. Under the flap on the inside of the fold, write the corrected sentence. Students who use this center should take one sentence at a time and try to find and correct all the errors. They should write the corrected sentence on a separate piece of paper. Once a student thinks he has the correct answer, he should look under the flap to see if he is right. For this center, you can start with just a few sentences that need correction and add to the collection as the semester progresses. Keep them in an empty shoebox at the learning center.
If you want to create a learning center which reviews contractions with your students, this one will fit the bill. Cut out several identical cupcakes and icing from card stock or heavy paper. On the icing portion of the cupcake, write the two words that make up the contraction (I will, he is, you are, they will, etc.). On the bottom of the cupcake, write the contractions (I’ll, he’s, you’re, they’ll, etc.). For the center, put the bottoms in one basket and the tops in a second basket and shuffle each set. Students using the center should match each cupcake top to the correct bottom. If you like, include an answer sheet so students can self-check.
If you played Mad Libs with your friends in elementary school, you know how funny these part of speech story challenges can be. You will also know your students might enjoy this grammar review which also entertains. Print some blank Mad Libs or download the free app to your mobile device. Then encourage students to work in pairs to fill in the part of speech blanks. When students have finished a page, have the writer read the story aloud to their partner (doing double duty as a pronunciation exercise) and listen for the giggles!
Parts of Speech Collage
Choose an area of your classroom with some free wall space for this parts of speech learning center. Divide one or more posters into sections, one for each major part of speech: noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. Tack the poster up and place with it several old magazines and a couple of pairs of scissors, glue sticks, and a dictionary. Students who choose the center look through the magazine for words (preferably those from headlines). They cut the words out and then paste them on the poster in the correct area. Your students will have an ongoing list of new vocabulary they can refer to in class.
Do you use learning centers in your grammar class?
What are your favorites?
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please help spread it by clicking one of those sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in more, you should follow our Facebook page where we share more about creative, non-boring ways to teach English.