This is a lesson plan on articles for upper intermediate students. It is inspired by one of Scott Thornbury’s grammar activities in his excellent book: How to teach grammar, 1999. Although using a deductive way to teach grammar rules, this activity lets the students become more responsible for their own learning and provides them with more chances to communicate and negotiate information.
- Level: upper intermediate.
- Timing: 35 minutes.
- Materials: Worksheets (grammar summaries about using articles.)
Lesson plan on articles
The following procedure describes a lesson plan on articles based on a deductive approach to grammar teaching.
The procedure of the activity
The activity is about the definite, indefinite and the zero article – i.e. when no article is required. It consists of four stages.
- Assigning an exercise in groups.
- Providing groups with grammar summaries.
- Checking in open class.
1. Assigning the exercise in groups
Form three groups and assign them a gap filling exercise. It is advisable to number the students in each group (student 1, student 2, student 3, student 4…)
The students have to provide the definite article ‘the’, the indefinite article ‘a’, or the zero article ‘0’.
- Are you coming to….party next Saturday?
- I bought…. new TV set yesterday.
- I think… man over there is very ill. He can’t stand on his feet.
- I watched…. video you had sent me.
- She was wearing…. ugly dress when she met him.
- I am crazy about reading… history books.
- She is…. nice girl.
- Do you want to go to… restaurant where we first met?
- He is… engineer.
- He thinks that… love is what will save us all.
At this stage, the groups are tested to do the exercise using their own linguistic resources and without any help from the teacher. It should be noted that when the students use only what is available within their current state of knowledge, they will be forced to make hypotheses and this will, in turn, create a need to know more about using articles in English. This need will be satisfied in the next step of the procedure (see below) by providing students with grammar summaries.
The students have 5 minutes to do the exercise
2. Grammar summaries
After the completion of the exercise, each group is assigned a grammar summary containing the rules for either the definite, indefinite or the zero article:
- Group 1: rules about definite articles
- Group 2: rules about indefinite articles.
- Group 3: rules about the zero article.
Students study the grammar summaries and do the exercise once again working as a group.
Teachers may be inspired by the following grammar summary to provide the necessary worksheets.
This might take 10 minutes
3. Regrouping the students
After using the grammar summaries to help them do the exercise, the teacher proceeds by regrouping the students so that the new groups consist of members of each of the original groups:
- Group A: Student 1 + student 1 + student 1 + student 1…
- Group B: Student 2 + student 2 + student 2 + student 2…
- Group C: Student 3 + student 3 + student 3 + student 3…
- Group D: Student 4 + student 4 + student 4 + student 4…
Members of the new groups compare their answers and are encouraged to share the information they got from their respective grammar summaries, explaining why they opted for any answers.
This might take around 10 minutes.
4. Checking answers
Once the students finish doing the exercise again in the light of the new information and explanations they got from the members of each group, the teacher checks the exercise in open class. It is important that he/she asks the students to justify their answers, referring to the rules in the grammar summaries.
One of the main objectives of checking answers is to settle any remaining problems in understanding the grammar summaries about the use of articles.
This might take up to 10 minutes.