Relative clauses are a classic grammar point that you’ll find in just about every 4-skills ESL textbook. The grammar is simple enough, but it can be a bit difficult to come up with a fun activity or game that gets students using relative clauses when speaking.
Don’t worry. Help is here!
Here’s a fun activity to get your students speaking and using relative classes so that you can get beyond the pen and paper. Check it out, and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.
Relative Clause Speaking Activity
If you’re studying about relative clauses (who, which, that), and want to lighten up the mood a bit you can use this “Who or What is it?” relative clause speaking activity. My students always love it and they have a really fun time playing to together.
Relative clauses are a bit grammar heavy to teach and lessons about them are usually focused on pen and paper exercises. But, it is possible to practice relative clauses in a fun speaking activity too.
Here’s How to Set Up this Relative Clause Speaking Activity
Level: High Beginner to Intermediate
Time Required: 10-15 minutes
Materials: List of people or things (one per group of 3-5 people)
Make a list of things or people and cut them up into little pieces and put them in an envelope (here’s my very Korea-centric who/what list).
Put the students in groups of 4 and the first person has to choose a paper at random and keep it secret. Then, they give hints about the paper to the rest of their group, preferably using relative clauses or reduced relative clauses.
The other people in the group get to guess who it is and whoever guesses it correctly gets to keep the paper. They get 1 point and then is the next person who chooses a random paper and gives hints. This helps to prevent one student running away with a certain victory.
The winner is the person with the most points at the end of the allotted time. It’s usually quite a tight race because the winner of each round has to be the next person to give hints, so can’t get a point. I usually bring a small prize for the winner from each group to create some excitement about it.
For example, if the students chose Barrack Obama from the envelope of papers, they could say things like:
“This is a man who’s from the USA.”
“I’m sure he’s someone everyone knows.”
“He has a lot of power which he uses to influence the whole world.”
How to Avoid Endless, Incorrect Guesses
In order to avoid endless incorrect guesses, I make a rule that if you make an incorrect guess, you are “out” of that round unless all the other people also have incorrect guesses, in which case it starts over.
I point out to students that they should start with very general hints at the beginning and then get into more specific ones at the end in order to make it a bit more fun and last longer.
During and After the Activity
While the relative clause game is going on, the teacher can circulate around the room and ensure that students are using relative clauses correctly (or using them at all!). Give encouragement and feedback about this.
After the activity, you can give some feedback to the whole class about their use of the correct grammar. I don’t point out individual mistakes but will give general feedback to everyone about things that I heard more than once.
Check out this Guessing Game that you can Use for Relative Clauses
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Have your Say about this Relative Clause Activity
What is your favourite relative clause game or activity that you do with your ESL students? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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