Review by Way of Ordering

One way to review is by putting things in order – whether it’s sequential, by likelihood, or other – since it requires students to compare things see how they relate to one another, which means they’ll need a solid understanding of the topics.

There are a lot of options for putting vocabulary in order, especially for nouns and adjectives. You can order biggest to smallest, hot to cold, energetic to somber, young to old, common to rare, or any number of other ways depending on the collection of words. We’re sure you can figure out some good ways to do those on your own. This post is mostly about ordering grammar topics.

You or your students can write these things in order on a whiteboard, but we’re in favor of the teacher writing each idea on a notecard, and providing a set of notecards to each group of students (perhaps 2-5 students in a group). Students should then shift the cards around on their table until they are in the correct order.

MODALS OF PERMISSION/OBLIGATION

If given instructions or permission to do something, how likely will the average listener (assuming they’re not particularly rebellious) do that thing? ‘Probably Not’ on the left to ‘Probably’ on the right.

MUST NOT → CANNOT → DON’T HAVE TO → CAN → HAVE TO → MUST

FUTURE FORMS

Place various ways to express the future tense in order of certainty.

MIGHT/COULD → BE GOING TO → PRESENT PROG. → PRESENT SIMPLE

QUESTION FORMS

For inquiries, order by how certain the asker is of the answer. ‘Not a clue’ on the left and ‘I believe this is true’ on the right.

‘WH’ QUESTIONS → CHOICE QUESTIONS → YES/NO QUESTIONS → TAG↑QUESTIONS → ECHO QUESTIONS → NEGATIVE QUESTIONS → TAG↓QUESTIONS

For requests, place polite on the left and forceful on the right.

INDIRECT ?s → YES/NO ?s with MODALS → TAG ?s → NEGATIVE ?s

There are more topics you could do, like sorting tenses by chronological order, or putting quantitative determiners (none, a, a few, some, etc.) in order from least to most. You can write out the topics like I have here, or write out examples instead. Whichever you provide, you should ask your students to provide the other once they’ve finished putting everything in order.

By the way, order is sometimes debatable depending on context. (You might even question how I’ve ordered things in this post, and that’s fine!) If your students can explain why they put things in the order they did, that might be better than matching whatever order you have in mind. Getting students to think about these things is the whole point!

Get more with Insider Access

INCLUDING

Extra Video Content

more How-to-Teach grammar videos*

with intros, instructions, and summaries

*compared to free resources

AND

Exclusive Supplemental Resources

slideshows

posters & handouts

bonus notes

AND

Advanced Features in Student Projects

search and filter

planning info

teaching tips

3 Alternate Ways to Teach Idioms

With idioms, students already know the words that make up the expression. But since idioms aren’t to be taken literally, they still need to learn the meaning. Instead of teaching idioms like you would other vocabulary terms, why not build off what they already know?

Read More »
language illuminated

Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Processing

We generally teach the structure of a grammar point, and the usage follows. That works well enough for receptive skills, but for productive skills, it feels backward. Maybe we should try the reverse approach.

Read More »
teaching tips

YLE Prep: Listening

Here a four things teachers can practice with their students to prepare them for the Listening sections of the Cambridge English: Young Learners Exams.

Read More »
teaching tips

Poker Idioms

Play poker with your students, teaching them terminology along the way. Afterward, take a look at some common expressions which are literal for poker but can also be applied to other contexts as idioms.

Read More »

Share This Post