“Can you borrow me a pencil?”

We must have all heard this phrase and let it go. Everyone understands what the student means and it’s a waste of class time to focus on something so small, right? I disagree.

It’s easy to leave sloppy classroom language uncorrected, but leave it too long and you’ll have upper intermediate students saying “Teacher, sorry for late“. Fix it early, and with the lowest level groups you have! Here’s a short, fun activity to help students practise ‘lend’ and ‘borrow’.

  1. Ask students to find a different item each from the classroom. Try to make them as everyday as possible like pen, rubber, tissue, dictionary. Make sure
    all students are familiar with the vocabulary.
  1. Choose a student and ask, “Can I borrow your pen, please?” Then choose another and ask, “Can you lend me a dictionary, please“. Elicit the two sentences, look at the form and drill the pronunciation.
  1. When students are familiar with the structures, give them 10 minutes to mingle with each other and swap items. Make sure you get involved too!

They have to use the structures and they have to say please! After a couple of minutes, wipe the structures off the board so that students aren’t only relying on reading. This will help them internalise the language.

  1. At the end of the 10 minutes see which student has most items.

Reinforce these structures whenever you need to. You could also have them up on display in the classroom as a reminder.


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