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EFL - ESL activities and games for teaching verb patterns

This ESL lesson plan contains activities and games for teaching some common verb patterns to intermediate level students. Use these teaching ideas as a stand-alone lesson plan, or to supplement an existing one. If you use an iOS or Android device, don't forget that you can get offline access to these materials, along with a much more extensive selection of ESL lesson plans, through the TEFL Handbook app.

Lead-in activity

Discuss each group of verbs with respect to verb patterns, providing examples of some common verbs that fall into these categories.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for teaching verb patterns | Intermediate

ESL activities for teaching verb patterns

Verb list 

A writing activity where students get the chance to apply what they have learned about the target language for the lesson. 

Start by selecting two verbs from each verb pattern category below and adding them to the board. Mix them up and leave out their respective pattern information: 

Verb + to infinitive: Hope, fail, intend, learn, offer 
Verb + -ing: Avoid, feel like, finish, suggest 
Verbs that take both - Similar meaning: Begin, continue, start 
Verbs that take both - Different meaning: Stop, regret 

Next, students will work in pairs to decide which pattern category each verb belongs to and create a sentence using a verb pattern. Do a quick demo on the board before they begin. 

Mark hopes to pass all of his exams this year. (Verb + to infinitive)

Verb pattern gap-fill 

Students have to complete sentences with the correct form of the verb. 

Write the following style of gap-fill exercise on the board and have the students work individually to complete the sentences: 

1. I would like to learn _____ the samba. (dance) 
2. We decided _____ the train. (catch) 
3. I really enjoyed _____ there. (be) 
4. I must remember _____ James tomorrow. (call) 
5. When we finished _____, I went to my house. (eat) 
6. I forgot _____ you about your brother. (ask) 

When they have finished, they can compare their answers with a partner.

True or false? 

For this writing activity, students are aiming to fool a classmate with a list of personal statements containing verb patterns. 

Start by telling your students to make six sentences about their life using the verb patterns they have learned today. Three should be true and three false. 

When they have finished, students should swap books with a partner who must mark each one T or F depending on whether they think they are true or not. Finally, they'll return each other's books, correct them and give their partner a score out of 6. Follow up with a discussion at the end.

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ESL classroom games

Dice: Verb patterns 

Players have to make sentences using a combination of verbs that have been decided by the throw of the dice. 

You'll need dice or a dice app on your phone. Start by dividing the class into two teams. On the board, make two lists of 6 verbs and number them. In each round, you'll roll the dice twice mark the selected verbs on the board. In groups, the students must now come up with a funny sentence that uses both verbs correctly. 

If you want to make it a little more challenging, you can limit them to a particular tense. Below are sample lists that you could use. Write these on the board side by side. 

1. plan 
2. need 
3. try 
4. forget 
5. decide 
6. would like 

1. fly 
2. feed 
3. kill 
4. eat 
5. steal 
6. climb 

Give one point for a grammatically correct sentence and a bonus point to the team with the funniest statement. Set a time limit based on the ability of the class.

More Advanced ESL lesson plans

Our suggested next free lesson in this course is on comparative and superlative adjectives. If you've found these materials useful, be sure to check out our full list of intermediate ESL lesson plans. For other levels, have a look at our complete selection of EFL - ESL lesson plans. Also, if you use an iOS or Android device, try out the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers. It has a lot more content and gives you faster access to our ESL resources, making it easier to use in class.

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