Make or Do – follow up

As I’d hoped, kind colleagues, Suzanne Lachaise and Robert Jeannard, have provided constructive criticism about my Make or Do? What an awful day! exercise which I already knew not to be sufficient. They made me realise it was more of a test than a learning exercise because it didn’t help them to build criteria for determining how to choose between “make” and “do”. I gave the “rule” at the beginning but it wasn’t helpful. Yet again showing that there is no magical transfer of knowledge to know-how.

So I’ve written a simpler (and shorter) exercise  concentrating on contrasts between “make” and “do” in the same situation but where they each give a different “lighting”.

I know I can rely on them to let me know if I need to do more. 😉 

You’ll find the new exercise here: Verbs – “Make” and “Do” contrasts


Make or Do?

I’ve just added a set of MCQ exercises : Make or Do? What an awful day!

I’m not really satisfied with them. I originally wrote the text (it’s a short story) before there was easy access to corpora so my choice of expressions was based:

  1. partly on my own intuitions as to the most frequent expressions
  2. mainly on choosing physical examples about which students can easily make hypotheses as to the meaning

According to the British National Corpus, expressions including “make sense” have over 2500 occurrences while variations on “make a bed” only 199. However, it seems to me more pedagogically effective to start with “make a bed” the meaning of which it is easy to make clear to near beginners through pictures, mimes, etc.  When a number of the physical examples (make coffee, make a cake, make a circle, etc.) have been sufficiently practised for “make” to instantly evoke “made something” in the student’s mind, then the transfer to the statistically more common metaphorical uses can be made.

I must say, I’ve never tried to start off with “make sense” or any of other very frequent non physical uses. I wouldn’t know where to start. I could spend time giving a clumsy definition and many examples of one of them until I had the impression students understood that particular expression, but it wouldn’t help them to understand autonomously the next expression they encounter.

What do you other teachers do?

It hurts my pride a little to put on line a set of exercises I know to be inadequate but it means, I hope, that I’ll get suggestions for improving them. 😉 

Verbs: Making questions

A set of exercises on question forming has been added: Verbs: Making questions.

It’s not easy to find ways of giving students practice in making questions in English. It seems to me using mixed up sentences for students to put in order is one way.

The exercises also functions to help students understand the Voice of America article “Tuberculosis and Women”.

There are more like this in the pipeline.

Phrasal verbs

A set of exercises on Phrasal verbs was added on the 4th of April 2015.

The derivation from the physical meaning of the prepositions/adverbs is shown by the use of images.

I’ve also posted an article for teachers on my blog: So-called Phrasal Verbs.