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Defining Relative Clauses
April 5, 2011

I thought I would share a lesson plan I've recently put together to focus on the grammar target of defining relative clauses. Although this plan is designed with a large class in mind, the groups could be altered to suit fewer students, (students could be arranged one per role for a class as small as 6 students, for example). I believe that the level of interaction, the required communication and the topic would be engaging and memorable for students of intermediate levels, and may perhaps work as a fun review for more advanced levels.
I hope you enjoy it - happy teaching!
By Jennifer Jones





5 mins

Teacher (T) asks students (S) if they know what a "heist" is. T elicits ideas and confirms that a heist is a planned crime in which something is stolen. T asks S's if they have heard stories in the news or in conversation about similar crimes. The class discusses these briefly. T reviews with the class what happens when suspects are arrested and identified in a line-up by witnesses, checking any necessary vocabulary. T presents the class with the photo of the police line-up (see photo taken from the movie "The Usual Suspects" ), eliciting any comments S's have about the men in the line-up.


5 mins

T puts S's into groups of 5 to discuss what a professional robber would be like. What are his/her characteristics? If you were a robber, what do you imagine you would be like?

Study Focus

7 mins

T gathers the class back together and reviews ideas generated by each group. T uses the "robber profiles" to create sentences containing relative clauses, making sure to use each of the following pronouns once: who, whom, whose, which, that, when, where, and why. T explains the use of relative clauses, (to modify nouns, noun phrases or pronouns) and explains the difference between defining and non-defining relative clauses, stressing that for today's lesson, S's will be focusing on defining clauses.

Study Practice

13 mins

T sets the scene: There has been a robbery at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, in which a rare ruby necklace was stolen. The robbery took place last Saturday at approximately 9:00 pm. The police have arrested 5 men they believe could be connected to the crime, and will be calling witnesses and the museum curator to the station to pick the suspect out of a line-up.
S's are given role cards and divided as follows:
Group#1 - 5 suspects
Group#2 - 2 police officers, 1 lawyer (for the museum curator), 1 museum curator, 1 witness
Group#3 - 2 police officers, 1 lawyer (for the museum curator), 1 museum curator, 1 witness.
S's must imagine what their connection to the heist is, and coordinate their story with the others' in their group. Suspects must elect a "guilty one", and the remaining 4 must establish an alibi for the night of the crime. T reviews the concept of "alibi" with S's. T instructs S's to define their roles themselves, with the help of their group members. S's must try to use relative clauses beginning with each of the relative pronouns discussed in the SF during their discussions. T monitors for correct usage, giving suggestions and feedback throughout to help solidify S's roles.


15 mins

S's carry out the role play as T monitors for appropriate and natural language use. T wraps up the class by having each group report on who the witnesses identified, and having the guilty suspect come forward. T provides feedback on what was heard during the role play, and the class discusses what the guilty suspect's sentence should be.

Study Practice/Activate

5 mins

T provides feedback on what was heard during the role play, and the class discusses what the guilty suspect's sentence should be.

About the Blogger: 

Jennifer Jones began her ESL career at the start of 2003 in Osaka, Japan. Throughout the past eight years, she has had a broad range of teaching experience, including G.E.D., business courses, TOEIC and TOEFL programs, ESL for both children and adults, Academic Preparation programs and TESOL. She is currently Head Academic Instructor and TESOL Coordinator at London Language Institute. Jennifer's outside interests include music, painting, writing poetry and prose, and pilates and yoga.
Filed under: Lesson Plans


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