Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Active and Passive Voice Activity for ESL Students

Advanced English as a second language students are ready to learn the differences between active and passive voice sentence construction. If students are in school, they are likely to experience comments on their essays and reports that encourage them to use more active voice sentences. Some students may be looking for a job, and using the active voice on resumes and cover letters is vital.

The active voice is used in sentences where the subject performs the action, and passive voice sentences are those in which the subject is still important in the sentence, but something else performs the action. For example, “The dog ate the bone” is a sentence in the active voice, and “The bone was eaten by the dog” is a sentence written in the passive voice. Passive voice sentences are not necessarily wrong, but for essays, reports, resumes, and cover letters, they should be used as little as possible.


This activity is geared toward ESL students who are looking for a job.


Prepare an example of a resume and cover letter that uses the passive voice in some of its sentences. Pair students up, and provide each pair with either a copy of the passive voice resume or the passive voice cover letter. Students work together to identify the passive voice sentences in their document. They will highlight the passive tense sentences.


The pairs of students will then exchange either their resume or their cover letter with another pair of students. Each pair should end up with the document they did not originally have. Then each pair will work to change the highlighted sentences into sentences in the active voice.


In another class or for homework, students can prepare their own cover letter or resume for a particular job posting that you, as the teacher, find and copy for each student. Encourage students to write only in the active voice. When students have completed this activity, they can read or summarize their cover letters to the class.


Labels: Active and Passive Voice Activity for ESL Students

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