Sunday, June 24, 2012

Verb + ing

Recently I realized that telling students that prepositions are usually followed by nouns or gerunds (= verb+ing) confused them.  Why?  There are lots of structures in English that have the pattern of verb+ing. What are they?  In addition to the gerund, we have the present participle that is used in the progressive tense (e.g., "I am singing a song now.") with the verb "to be."  We also use it as an adjective form in the participial adjectives like interesting, fascinating, compelling, frustrating, demanding, and so on.

It is important that students understand what words do - that words play different roles in a sentence.  Verb+ing can act as an adjective (He is simply dazzling, isn't he?); be a part of the progressive or continuous form of a verb (Now look at him.  He's dazzling people with his ability to dance.), or function as a noun (Dazzling people is easy for him.).  Teachers, the next time you talk about Verb + ing and see a lot of hands go up or puzzled faces, these several uses of the structure verb+ing could be the reasons your students are confused.  Anticipating such areas of possible confusion always helps me feel like I'm at least two steps ahead of my students in the classroom.

After having taught very advanced-level students for a decade, it is stimulating to be teaching intermediate levels again.  In many ways, questions from intermediate-level students are fundamentally more challenging because they focus on structures that are similar in appearance but whose functions are quite different.  What I love most still about teaching English is how much I learn about my native language from my students.

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