Lesson Plan: Label Sentences with Parts of Speech

Elementary school students working at their desks

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Knowing parts of speech well can help learners improve their understanding of almost every aspect of English learning. For example, understanding which part of speech is expected in sentence structures can help learners better understand new words through contextual clues when reading. In pronunciation, understanding the parts of speech will help students with stress and intonation. At lower levels, understanding parts of speech can help a lot with understanding basic sentence structure. This base will serve students well as they improve their English skills, adding new vocabulary and, eventually, more complex structures. This lesson plan focuses on helping beginning level classes develop a strong grasp of four parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Once students become familiar with common structural patterns using these four key parts of speech, they feel more confident as they begin to explore the different tenses.

Lesson Characteristics

  • Aim: Recognizing nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
  • Activity: Group work creating lists, followed by sentence labeling
  • Level: Beginner

Outline

  1. Ask students to name a number of objects in the classroom. Write these objects on the board in a column. Ask students what type of word (which part of speech) the words are. Generally, one student will know that they are nouns.
  2. Label the words as "Nouns" on the board. 
  3. Ask students what you are doing as you mimic a few actions such as writing, speaking, walking, etc. Write the base form of these verbs on the board. 
  4. Ask students what type of words these are. Write "Verbs" above the column.
  5. Show the students some pictures from magazines. Ask students to describe the pictures. Write these words on the board in another column. Ask students what type of words these are, write "Adjectives" above the column.
  6. Write "Adverbs" on the board and write down a few adverbs of frequency (sometimes, usually), as well as some basic adverbs such as slowly, quickly, etc.
  7. Go through each column and quickly explain what the words do: nouns are things, people, etc, verbs show actions, adjectives describe things and adverbs state how, when or where something is done.
  1. Ask students to divide into groups of three and categorize the below. Alternately, ask students to create a new list of 5 nouns, 5 verbs, 5 adjectives, and 5 adverbs.
  2. Go around the room helping groups with the categorization activity.
  3. Write a few simple sentences on the board.
    Examples:
    John is a student.
    John is good.
    John is a good student.
    Mary works in an office.
    Mary usually drives to work.
    The students are funny.
    The boys play football well.
    We often watch TV.
  4. As a class, call for students to label nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the simple sentences. I like to use colored markers for this exercise to highlight each part of speech to help students with recognition. 
  5. Point out that a simple sentence with a noun (John is a good student) can combine with a simple sentence using an adjective (John is good) to combine into one sentence: John is a good student.
  6. Spend time helping students understand where certain parts of speech are usually found. Example: Verbs are in the second position, nouns are in the first position or at the end of sentences, adverbs of frequency are placed before the verb, adjectives end simple sentences with 'to be'.
  1. Ask students to write five of their own simple sentences. 
  2. Have students highlight their own sentences with "noun", "verb", "adjective", and "adverb."

Desk Exercise

Categorize the following words as nouns verbs, adjectives, or adverbs.

  • happy
  • walk
  • expensive
  • picture
  • softly
  • ride
  • boring
  • pencil
  • magazine
  • cook
  • funny
  • sometimes
  • cup
  • sad
  • buy
  • often
  • watch
  • carefully
  • car
  • never