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An ESL Lesson About "Some": Avoid The Pitfalls Of This Tricky Term

written by: JKLlewthor • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 8/2/2012

It's vital that students are able to both engage with the subject matter at hand and have fun when learning English as a second language--grammar doesn't have to be dull! Why not try out this simple and accessible lesson plan, which teaches ESL students the grammatical usage of the word 'some'?

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    Some Lesson for All

    Regardless of whether your ESL students are young, mature and inexperience--or confident, the use of the qualifier some in English can still throw up numerous issues. Although constructions involving the use of the word some can at first seem straightforward and simple, there are a number of pitfalls your students will need to be made aware of. Here is a no-frills lesson plan, which is eminently practical and easy to carry out, cementing the correct usage of the word some in your students’ minds.

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    Grammatical Identity

    The first step is to outline to your students the objectives of the lesson and what you hope to achieve by the time it is over. In this case, it might be a good idea to set the word some into a grammatical context. The main contention among grammatical experts is whether or not the word some can count as a determiner or a definite article, like the. In general conversation, the most important purpose of the word some is, of course, conveying a quantity of nouns, and this will form the main basis of the lesson. This section of the lesson need only take a few minutes.

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    The Theory Component

    Having outlined the objectives, gather your students around a whiteboard and compose three sample sentences, which could look something like this:

    I would like some apples, please.

    He saw some animals in the park.

    She only liked some of the paintings.

    These three sentences convey the main use of the word some in English--to qualify a noun or group of nouns. Try to brainstorm the idea out of your students until--eureka!--the concept is revealed to them. It might help to underline each component of the sentence in a different color – green for nouns, blue for verbs, etc.

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    The 'Fun' Component

    Having done this, and hopefully allowed your students to understand the purpose of the word, it’s time to put it into action. This portion of the lesson should be a good deal more enjoyable for the students, after the relatively dry spell of staring at grammatical terms on a whiteboard. Arrange a role play situation and split your students up into pairs. One of the students plays the role of the shopkeeper, whereas the other plays the role of a customer. Allow your students a little elbow room in terms of what kind of products the shop sells, as the vocabulary at this stage is fairly irrelevant--so long as the products in question have a plural form! It’s no good if the students pretend to be buying single items, as this obviously defeats the point of the exercise. Within this role play situation, the customer must ask to buy, for example, some bananas.

    At this point, the role play may feel somewhat contrived, yet this is once again irrelevant as the main purpose is teaching grammatical skills. The student masquerading as a shopkeeper must then ask ‘which bananas would you like?’ The customer must then think of an excuse to only buy some of the bananas, such as ‘these ones seem to be the most ripe, so I’m only going to buy some of them.’

    From here, the two students switch over and the process is repeated, in a different imagined situation. Through allowing your students to imagine various different places and kinds of shops, their brain is stimulated; therefore, the information is more likely to remain entrenched into their long-term memory.

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    Lesson Summary

    With the role play fun over, gather your students back together and sum up what they have been taught during this lesson, with particular focus upon the identity of the word some as a determiner that qualifies the number of a noun. Depending on the nationality of your students, it may also be prudent to underline the differences between the use of some in English, and the equivalent of their own language. If all goes to plan, your students will have learned about this potentially tricky facet of English grammar in an engaging and active manner.