Change It

Purpose: This is a substitution drill, designed to help learners focus on and internalize particular constructions, such as the past tense.  It can be done in a circle if desired.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials:  whiteboard and markers

Preparation: Decide what structure you want to focus on and come up with a sentence using the target language pattern you want the learners to work on.  On a beginning level, use a sentence like: Maria studies English every day. The goal would be to practice different situations in the present tense. For more advanced learners, an example would be: The newspaper said the situation was unstable.


1.Plan to model the drill using several different sentences.

2.Then give the students a sentence to use as a base.  In turn, each student changes any word in the sentence and says the new sentence aloud.  Anything which is grammatically correct and comprehensible is acceptable.  For the beginning level (see sentence above), the first student might say, “Maria eats breakfast every day” and the second person might say “Maria and Fadumo eat breakfast every day”, etc.  The more advanced learners could say, “The newspaper said the volcano was unstable” and then “The scientist said the volcano was unstable”, followed by “The scientist thought the volcano was unstable”.


For reviewing vocabulary, like food, start with: Ali will take an apple on the picnic.  Give the students another name and they start a new sentence with the new name and a new item for the picnic.  To make it more complicated, ask students to name a food that starts with the same letter as the person’s name: Basma will take a banana on the picnic, etc.

Other practice topics could include comparatives, opposites, prepositions of place, pronouns and verb tenses.

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