ESL Activites Used to Teach Passives

The following activities are designed to teach passives. The first activity teaches basic forms of passives. The second activity deals with uses of passives in context. Each of these activities is designed for a group of 8th grade intermediate learners in an ESL classroom.

Activity 1: The following activity is based on ideas taken from

Teacher Instructions:

Step One:
Display examples of various forms using both the passive and active sentences.

Step Two:
Identify the subject and the direct object in both the active and passive forms.

Step Three:
Create a simple active sentence in which the students must change into a passive sentence.

Step Four:
Ask students to create 3 passive sentences.

Student Instructions:

In numbers #1-6, please select the appropriate form of the passive. In numbers #7-10, please select the appropriate form of the active. Highlight or circle one of the three italicized forms for each problem.

1. A: The worker accepted the raise.
P: The raise had accepted by the worker
was accepted
will be accepted

2. A: The agents were investigating the crime scene.
P: The crime scene has been investigating by the agents.
was investigating
was being investigated

3. A: The dog attacked the lady on Tuesday night.
P: The lady had attacked by the dog on Tuesday night.
was attacked
will be attacked

4. A: Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Piccu in the year 1911.
P: In the year 1911, Machu Piccu was discovered by Hiram Bingham.
would discover
had discovered

5. A: Leonardo DaVinci painted the Mona Lisa.
P: The Mona Lisa had been painted by Leonardo DaVinci.
was painted

6. A: Jenna’s roommate makes Greek food.
P: Greek food was made by Jenna’s roommate.
is made
did make

7. P: The Sears Tower was built by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.
A: Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill did build the Sears Tower.
had built

8. P: The dress was designed by Lucci.
A: Lucci had designed the dress.
did design

9. P: The monument for the firemen will be constructed by the architect.
A: The architect will construct a monument for the firemen.
is constructing

10. P: Many pairs of jeans are bought by Devin.
A: Devin buys many pairs of jeans.
is buying
does buy

Activity 2: This activity is a revised activity using flashcards borrowed from

Teacher Instructions

Step One:
After teaching students the basic forms of passives in activity one, have the students practice using passives, and create their own passives relevant to their lives.

Step Two:
Divide students into groups of 3-4. Hand out sets of matching passive and active flash cards to each group. Make sure the cards are mixed so that the students have to match each passive sentence with its corresponding active sentence. For example, ‘This painting is by Vincent Van Gogh’ and ‘Vincent Van Gogh painted this painting’ would be a match.

Step Three:
Once the students have matched the pairs together, have the students form two piles with their cards. One pile is for passive sentences only, while the other pile is for passives.

Step Four:
After the students have divided the two piles correctly, have them construct their own set of flashcards with both active and passive meanings. Encourage them to construct sentences that have relevance to their own lives.

Step Five:
To close the activity, have the students exchange their created flashcards with other groups and identify the passive and active forms.

Another Optional Activity related to the teaching of passives, borrowed from an on-line resource.

Teacher Instructions:

Step One:
Create a Jeopardy board with the students. Have the students choose the categories and have each group be in charge of a category.

Step Two:
Have the students construct Active sentences, or answers to specific questions. Ex: “This Olympic gold Medalist was only 15 when she figure skated to success.”

Step Three:
Have students compete against each other in order to win the game. The students must use passive forms to correctly play, i.e. “Who is Tara Lipinski?”

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