Stage 1: Present examples 

Write these sentences on the board and ask: ‘What do you notice about the sentences?’ 

a. My dad likes books. 

b. Justin speaks French. 

c. Ndeye doesn’t like dogs. 

To help learners, ask focused questions such as: 

  • What is the subject of sentence a?  
  • Who likes books?  
  • Who speaks French?  
  • What comes after the subject?  
  • What part of the sentence are ‘books’, ‘French’ and ‘dogs’?  

Use L1 if necessary.  

Now write the following on the board underlined as shown. Ask: ‘What do you notice about the underlined parts of the sentences?’ 

d. We play football in the park. 

e. The school is closed today. 

f. Portia helps her mother at home every evening. 

To help learners, ask focused questions such as: 

  • Is ‘today’ about time or place?  
  • Is ‘in the park’ about time or place?  
  • Where do these expressions of time and place go in the sentence?  
  • When we have time and place, which comes first?  

Use L1 if necessary.  

Stage 2: Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they noticed in the examples. Here are some key points you might want to share with them. 

  • In English the usual word order in sentences is: subject + verb + object, e.g. sentences a and b. 
  • In negative sentences the order is: subject + auxiliary verb + not + main verb + object, e.g. sentence c. 
  • Place and time expressions are usually at the end of the sentence, e.g. sentences d and e. 
  • If a sentence contains both place and time expressions, place comes first, e.g. sentence f. 

Stage 3: Use the grammar 

Word order 

Write jumbled sentences on the board and say: ‘Put the words in the correct order.’  

  • doesn’t / My mother / English / speak / . 
  • playing / Allain / not / football / is / . 
  • her homework / does / every evening / Rejoice / . 
  • my grandmother / every year / visit / in Nairobi / We / .   

Your turn 

Choose three learners (quite strong learners) to come and sit facing the class. Choose a topic such as food.  

Say: ‘These three people are “experts” on the topic. Ask them questions. Each of the experts can say only one word; then the next ‘expert’ says the next word until they have answered the question.’ 

Play. Get learners to ask the ‘experts’ at least five questions.  

Repeat with a different set of three experts. You can also change the topic. 

Add a word 

On the board write a short sentence, e.g. Victoria plays football.  

Put learners into two teams. In a large class you can have more teams.  

Say: ‘Take turns adding a word to the sentence. You can change the form of the words in the sentence, but each time the sentence must be grammatically correct.’ 

In this example, after five turns, the sentence might be: Victoria has been playing football for two hours. 

Play. Repeat with other sentences.


Auxiliary verb: Provides 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. 

Expressions: Ways of saying something. 

Feedback: Information about how or how well a learner has done something. 

Grammatically: Adverb for ‘grammar’ (= to do something related to grammar). 

Jumbled: Where a sequence is mixed in a random order and does not have a regular pattern. 

L1: The language learned from birth (= mother tongue). 

Object: The part of a sentence which is ‘acted upon’ by the subject. For example, in the sentence The boy kicked the ball, ‘the ball’ is the object. 

Subject: The part of the sentence which is ‘doing’ the verb. For example, in the sentence The girl kicked the ball, ‘the girl’ is the subject.