Learning English grammar can be a dry boring experience for ESL learners. Getting students to work together in interactive groups with a common goal will wake the class up on grammar teaching days. This next ESL classroom activity involves students working in groups to detect grammar errors in the English passages that you provide.
Come up with a short story or paragraph that includes the vocabulary and grammar you are working on in class. You will probably have to write it yourself, but it doesn’t have to be long. As you are writing this story, make intentional grammar errors that have to do with what you are teaching that week. You don’t need to indicate where they are. Simply tell your class that there are several errors in the reading. Split the students into groups of fours and explain that they are to locate and correct the errors. Before this activity, it is probably smart to review the grammatical concept on the board for the entire class to refresh everyone’s memory. Every student will receive a copy of the reading passage, even though they are working in groups. Have them jot down any corrections above the errors that are detected.
Once it is apparent that most groups have finished, get everyone’s attention and start correcting these sentences as a class. Using the overhead projector present the passage as you originally wrote it, but leave blank spaces for the mistakes you purposely made. Select individual ESL students to come to the projector to write in the corrections their group agreed upon. After having discussed each mistake, and what the correction should be, inform the groups that they are to now write their own paragraphs or short stories. These will then be presented to other student groups in the class. As with the sentences that you the teacher originally made, there are to be intentional errors spread out throughout the passage. In all each group will write one passage out (with errors) and will correct one passage from a different group of classmates.
This activity can be used with any grammatical concept that is being taught in the ESL class. As the teacher, you can decide if you want to collect the student created passages for a grade or not. This will sometimes provide added motivation. Make sure to have more advanced ESL students working in the same groups as your lower level students. Let the students have fun with this activity and they may even end up not dreading ESL grammar lessons so much!