This activity uses translation to encourage students to notice structural differences between certain noun clauses and question forms (see above image). The activity uses 12 book titles to supply the language for study.
- Language level: Pre-intermediate (A2) +
- Learner type: Teens; Adults
- Time: 20 minutes
- Activity: Translation
- Topic: Book titles
- Language: Questions; Noun clauses; Indirect questions
Words like who, where and what are commonly referred to as question words. But they are not always involved in questions:
- Who I am (Noun clause)
- Who am I? (Question form)
- Where the heart is (Noun clause)
- Where is baby’s belly button? (Question form)
- What the dog saw (Noun clause)
- What did the cat say? (Question form)
- What a lady wants (Noun clause)
- What does she want? (Question form)
- Where babies come from (Noun clause)
- Where do babies come from? (Question form)
- Where Willy went (Noun clause)
- Where did Pluto go? (Question form)
Lesson plan outline
- Before students enter the classroom, write the following on the board:
- Who I am
- Who am I
- Where the heart is
- Where is baby’s belly button
- What did the cat say
- What the dog saw
- What a lady wants
- What does she want
- Where babies come from
- Where do babies come from
- Where did Pluto go
- Where Willy went
This is activity is known as an L2-L1-L2 translation. It can be effective for at least three reasons:
- It allows learners to compare the target language (in this case English) with their mother tongue.
- It forces students to work with whole language chunks rather than with individual words. Compare the activity with a standard gap fill which generally focuses on individual words.
- It encourages students to notice aspects of structure and grammar in the target language (the need for the ‘do’ auxiliary in present and past simple question forms; subject-auxiliary inversion).
Follow up 1
Go through the slide show again and ask students to convert all of the question forms into noun clauses and vice versa. This will give them the opportunity to consolidate understanding of the grammar.
- Where Willy went → Where did Willy go?
- Where the heart is → Where is the heart?
- Where do babies come from? → Where babies come from
- Who I am → Who am I?
Follow up 2
Use this grammar point to introduce more complex structures (indirect questions for example). See link to PDF lesson plan for more information.
- Who am I?
- Do you know who am I?
- Who I am
- Do you know who I am? (see clip below)