One of the classes I always enjoyed teaching to my EFL students in Thailand the most was learning how to use ‘Imperatives’ or commands.
Imperatives are usually relatively easy for most beginner or low-intermediate EFL/ESL students to learn but making it fun, for the teacher, can be a bit more difficult. That’s why I devised this free EFL/ESL lesson plan, so your students can learn how to correctly use imperatives (commands) and have a blast doing it.
Level: Beginner to Low-Intermediate
Time Needed: One 50 minute to one-Hour Class
Expected Outcome – Students will be able to give basic commands, (Go, Come Here, Stand Up, Touch Your Head etc.), and follow the instructions of an imperative, if one is given to them.
Materials and Resources – Whiteboard markers, whiteboard, an instruction sheet for the teacher with relevant imperatives if you don’t think you’ll be able to think of some off the top of your head.
Step One: Explain to your students what an ‘imperative’ is. Also known as a command or a plea, it gives someone instructions about what they should do – Stand up. Sit down. Stop talking. Etc. Write several examples on the board and have students copy into notebooks. (I always tell them there will be a test on this, and usually follow up with a short test at the beginning of the next class).
Step Two: Explain the basic structure of an imperative, either a) the simple version composed of just a verb – Sit. Stop. Eat. Run. Etc., or b) a verb followed by additional information – Sit there. Stop talking. Eat faster. Hit Susan. Etc.
Step Three: Go around the classroom, giving a basic verb imperative (Go. Eat. Talk etc) and ask each student to add additional information to the imperative – Faster, A Person’s Name, Now, Tomorrow etc.
Step Four: (Game One) – Choose three students and ask them to come to the front of the class. I always choose the more outgoing ones, so they don’t feel stupid when they’re standing up there and expected to follow commands.
When standing in a row facing the other students, give them several imperatives to follow – Turn around. Sit down on the floor. Stand up. Touch your nose and on and on. I always do a few silly ones “Hit yourself really fast”, “Kiss that boy”, which my students love as it makes them laugh.
Now allow other students to raise their hands and, after you choose one, let him or her give an imperative to the students at the front of the class. Here the other students get very creative, and silly, with the imperatives they create and it usually ends up with the whole classroom screaming laughing including the three students at the front of the class.
Step Five: (Second Game) – Remember the Game “Simon Says”? You couldn’t find a better, and more fun game, to use to learn how to use imperatives and my students love it, regardless of their age.
Have all your students stand up and to one side of their desk, if possible. With large classes (50-plus, like we often have in Thailand), this can be more difficult for the teacher as you have to keep your eye on a lot of kids but, don’t worry, other kids will usually ‘tell on’ the kid who didn’t follow the command correctly or followed the command when “Simon” didn’t tell him to.
Explain the rules of “Simon Says” – if “Simon Says” comes before an imperative, the students must follow the imperative. If it doesn’t, they mustn’t and anyone who does will be “Out”.
I always do a quick warm-up round first where, if the kids make a mistake, it doesn’t count, so they can figure out how it works.
Start the game slowly but, after a couple of minutes, speed things up a little bit so the students don’t have much time to think about following the commands. Run the game until only either one child is left standing, or a small group if you run out of time. I always reward the final few with a couple of pieces of candy, which thrills them no end. Plus, Simon Says is hilariously funny and all of my students (from 6 year olds up to adults) have had an absolute blast playing it.
Final Notes – If you want to do a follow up test on imperatives, I usually do one at the beginning of the next class and simply give a one-word verb imperative and have students write down extra information to add to it.
Evaluation/Assessment: 1. Students’ ability to understand, 2. When they add information to the imperative, is it complicated or simple? 3. Students’ willingness to participate and have fun. 4. Scores on test in following class, if you choose to test them.
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