This may seem like an easy topic. But don’t let the title fool you. Prepositions are a complex part of speech, and a teacher should have an arsenal of activities to help students practice and learn new phrases. Here are a few ways to engage students in thinking on their feet: something they always need to do in real life!
Ask students to work in pairs and write the prepositions “at”, “for” and “to” in their notebooks. Using those prepositions, students will think about phrases that they could say in the following situations:
- At the airport
- At a restaurant
- In an Uber
Give pairs two minutes to consider each preposition. While students are working, copy the exercise on the whiteboard, along with these possible answers.
|Look at the time!|
I’m mad at you for being late.
I’m aiming at arriving in 30 minutes.
|I’ve been waiting for 5 hours.|
I’ve already asked for the cheque.
Watch out for that car!
|I’m flying to Istanbul.|
I’m looking forward to dessert.
I don’t like talking to other passengers.
Note: Don’t get too caught up with how students answer during this warm-up. This is just to gauge their familiarity with the concept of prepositions and phrases.
2. Gap fill and meaning
Part 1: Ask students to complete the following phrases. Do not provide the answers (they are below for the teacher’s reference). In pairs, ask students to briefly define the meaning of each phrase, in their own words.
|1. I’m ____ it.||A. On|
|2. I’m in a _____.||B. Hurry|
|3. He’s asking ____ it.||C. For|
|4. What are you ____ for?||D. Waiting|
|5. You’re ____ of touch.||E. Out|
|6. That’s out of the ____.||F. Question|
|7. What are you ____ at?||G. Getting|
Share a few definitions with the class and teach the meaning of each phrase (below):
- I’m on it. (I’m taking action, I have a plan.)
- I’m in a hurry.(I don’t have enough time, I have to move quickly.)
- He’s asking for it.(He’s behaving in a way that means it’s likely there’ll be an unpleasant consequence.)
- What are you waiting for?(Why are you delaying?)
- You’re out of touch.(You’re not aware of something.)
- That’s out of the question.(That’s not possible.)
- What are you getting at? (What are you suggesting, but not saying directly?)
Part 2: Rearrange the following questions and ask students to match the idioms to the situations*. Some students might not know what these idioms mean. Monitor, allow students to teach each other, then check understanding together as an open class.
|1. Ahmed is being rude to the referee.||A. “He’s asking for it.”|
|2. Lucas keeps smirking at me from across the class.||B. What’s he getting at?|
|3. Everyone’s already left for the party.||C. What are you waiting for?|
|4. Mind if I borrow $50?||D. That’s out of the question.|
|5. What’s Brexit?||E. Victoria is out of touch with current events.|
|6. Could someone hand me my bag?||F. I’m on it!|
|7. Hey, watch where you’re going!||G. Sorry, I’m in a hurry.|
*Note: Answers are provided for the teacher’s reference (1-A; 2-B; etc.)
3. Matching verb and preposition
Before class, write the following verbs on stick notes. Divide the class into two groups, giving each group 12 verbs (save the last 4 for later).
On the whiteboard, write the prepositions in a row, as seen in the table below. Tell students they have 2 – 3 minutes to match their group’s verbs to the correct preposition.
Finally, select a student from each group to pick one of the final verbs and place them in the final column (the student cannot receive help from others). If correct, that group earns one point. Repeat once more.
(prep) + (obj)
* Table of answers provided for the teacher.
Finally, divide students into pairs and ask them to pick three phrasal verbs and write sentences that use them correctly. Monitor as students work. Ask pairs to write their best sentence on the whiteboard (making sure that no phrasal verbs are repeated on the whiteboard during this stage).
This activity works to complement and circle back to the warm-up. Students will discuss in new pairs or groups of three, revising once again the warm-up situations (airport, restaurant, Uber ride), sharing their personal experiences, while using as many of the phrases that they’ve learned from this lesson. This time, the teacher should monitor and ensure that students are using a variety of phrases correctly.
And there you have it! Hopefully these activities prove useful in your classes.