Author: British Council | Published on 1 October 2022


1a. Present examples 

Write the short text on the board and cover it.

Ugali, funji, fufu, sakora, nshima, sadza, pap, phutu, ngima or mealie-meal?

(show a picture of ugali)

This important food is known by many names but I call it Ugali. It is eaten by many people in Sub-Saharan Africa almost every day. It is usually made with flour, water and salt but it can be made with cassava or bananas. It isn’t made with rice. Anyone can make it! First, the flour, water and salt are cooked. Then you roll it into a small ball and you eat it in a sauce of vegetables, meat or fish.  What is it called in your country? What is it made with? And what do you eat it with? 

Bring some ugali (or whatever it is called in your country) to the lesson or show a picture. Ask: “What is this? When do you eat it? Do you like it?”

Show the text. Say: “Read the text. Then discuss the questions with a partner.”

Take feedback. Quickly check understanding of vocabulary, e.g. flour, roll, sauce.

1b. Consolidate learners’ understanding 

Tell learners to look at the first sentence and tell you the verbs (= is known; I call). They should say the main verb and the auxiliary verb. Write is known on one side of the board and I call on the other. 

Go through the rest of the sentences. Ask learners to look at the pattern of the verbs, and to say which side they should go on. By the end, your board should look like this. 


is known

is eaten

is usually made

can be made

it isn’t made

are cooked

What is it called in your country?

What is it made with?


I call

anyone can make

you roll

you eat


What do you eat it with?

To help learners you could:

  • Underline the passive verbs on the board: is/are + past participle; can be + past participle. 

2. Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Some key points which you might want to share with them include: 

The use: In English we commonly use the active voice: Subject + Verb (+ Object), e.g. you roll it because we focus on the agent (the person doing the action). However, when we are more interested in the object of the sentence, we use the passive voice, e.g. It is made with flour, water and salt. (Who makes it is not important or we don’t know who makes it.)  

To add the agent, use ‘by’ e.g. It is eaten by many people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The forms: We form the passive with ‘be + past participle’:

  • Present simple, e.g. It is known by many names. The flour, water and salt are cooked.
  • Modal verbs, e.g. It can be made with cassava or bananas. 
  • Questions, e.g. What is it called in your country?
  • The negative, e.g. It isn’t made with rice.

Other verb tenses include:

  • Past simple: was/were + past participle
  • Present continuous: am/is/are + being + past participle
  • Past continuous: was/were + being + past participle
  • Present perfect: has/have + been + past participle.

Position of adverbs: Adverbs come before the past participle (main verb). E.g. It is usually made with flour, water and salt. 

3. Use the grammar

a) Fill the gaps: Erase the passive verbs from the text on the board to create gaps. Write the base form of the verbs in their place, e.g. This important food (know) by many names. Ask learners to copy the text in their books. Learners work in pairs to write the passive verb forms.

b) What’s my food?:  Learners use the text as a model. They work in pairs to write a similar text but they don’t give it a title. They swap texts with another pair and guess the name of the food.

c) Passive brainstorming: The teacher gives a time limit, e.g. 5 minutes. Learners work in teams to brainstorm true passive sentences about one object. (E.g. bananas: Bananas are grown in Africa. Bananas aren’t grown in England. Bananas are eaten by a lot of people every day. Bananas are sold at the market. Etc.) The team with the most true sentences are the winners.

d) Facts about the world: The teacher writes 3 lists on the board. (Example: List 1 = animals, products, languages. List 2 = verbs in base form. List 3 = countries.) Learners work in teams to make as many sentences as possible from the lists that are true. E.g. Cars are made in Germany. English is spoken in South Africa. Elephants are found in Mali. Elephants are found in Kenya. During feedback, teams score points for correct grammar and correct information.  

e) Which country?: Learners work in teams of 4 or 5. They research some facts about a country (search or choose a country they know about already. They create 6 sentences about the country. (Example: French is spoken. The euro is used to buy things. Its border is shared with 8 countries. It was ruled by kings until 1789. It is known for the Eiffel Tower. Paul Pogba was born there. Etc.)


Consolidate: asking students to test out the new skills, language or knowledge they have gained through the course of the lesson or overall topic

Base form: The form of the verb listed in the dictionary, without any endings (e.g. -s, -ed or -ing)

Auxiliary verb: Provide additional information (e.g. about voice and tense) about the main verb which follows. ‘Do’, ‘be’, ‘have’ and modal verbs are the main auxiliary verbs.