Adult ESL Activity With Prepositions

Classroom activities can help students learn prepositions in an engaging way.
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Prepositions are difficult to teach as much as they are difficult to learn for non-English-speaking students. It is hard for students to remember their proper use, especially since there are so many and each has several different functions. It is especially hard for adult students to learn them because they have their own language rules and will initially resist learning new ones. However, there are several activities that can help adult students understand and practice prepositions while keeping them engaged and entertained.

1 Prepositions

There are many rules regarding the use of prepositions, and each comes with several exceptions. Additionally, most prepositions have several different functions, and different prepositions can be used to express similar ideas. So, it is better to learn expressions as a whole instead of trying to remember all of the rules. The key to mastering prepositions, then, is practice.

2 Partnered Activity

Activities that require students to work with each other can be particularly engaging. Prepare a set of flash cards with places or locations and distribute them around the class, and then students partner up. The students can take turns reading the places or locations out loud while their partners state the preposition that should be used. It is important to have the correct answers on the flash cards so that students can check their responses.

3 Sharing Activity

Have students share something about themselves with the rest of the class. Have students share their country, city and home address. Once all the students have shared where they are from, you can have each student state a place where they would like to meet one of the other students using two different prepositions. For example, if a student is from Spain, another student can say that he would like to meet him at the plaza on 57th Street.

4 Worksheets

Worksheets are commonly used among English teachers, especially with adults. They are easy to create and most adults are comfortable filling them out. An example of this type of activity is to create a work sheet with sentences in which you leave the prepositions in them blank. You can create a worksheet for prepositions of time, prepositions of place or prepositions of location.

Based in New York City, Ana Koose is a registered dietitian and a nutrition-and-health writer. Koose is currently completing her doctoral degree in behavioral nutrition and holds a master's degree in nutrition and public health from Columbia University, where she currently contributes to a local newsletter.