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ESL forum > Techniques and methods in Language Teaching > Gerunds made easy?    

Gerunds made easy?

United States

Gerunds made easy?
Hi all,
So, I decided it was time to do a lesson on gerunds, because one of rmy students was having a lot of trouble with them when speaking.  I gathered some worksheets and materials, refreshed some of my knowledge, and headed into the classroom--disaster!
It īs been a very long time since I was not able to find a way to simplify a subject so my students could grasp it, but every attempt I made with the gerunds seemed to head off into a spiralling state of unclarity.  I even stopped mid-sentence on a few attempts (realizing what questions my next example would bring up and make them even more confused).
I finally just told them that there are so many "special rules" for gerund use that it is better to just try and train our "it just sounds right" feeling through drill.  When then proceded to work through about 70 sentences and I explained as we went. (Thanks to whoever īs worksheet I used)
My question to you:
Do any of you have any special success stories or strategies for making gerunds "simple"? It īs been a long time since I felt that way in the calssroom and want to prevent a repeat.

edit: I used nionia1986īs worksheet:   http://www.eslprintables.com/grammar_worksheets/verbs/gerunds_and_infinitives/GERUND_versus_INFINITIVE_58361/#thetop

28 Mar 2017      


Hi, Douglas, what nationality is your student? Some languages (like my own) do not have the concept of non finite verb forms, this is the case when you need to be creative in order to make the Ss understand the nature of gerunds and infinitives... If your student is lucky enough to be familiar with, say, infinitive in their mother tongue, then some drills might help, like those that are given in grammar textbooks.  
EDIT: This is my own ws on a related topic, but Iīm sure there are loads of better stuff here on ESLprintableshttp://www.eslprintables.com/printable.asp?id=845461#thetop

28 Mar 2017     


have you explained to them the concept of a gerund in general - that it īs more of a noun than a verb, basically a noun formed from a verb? maybe this could help to deal with the confusion.
Also, I feel it īs impossible to try and fit all the cases of usage of gerunds vs infinitives in one lesson, it īs better to move from simple things to more complicated cases step by step in a whole series of lessons (not that you need me to tell you about it but, when we īre stuck, it īs the simple things we usually overlook) I īm sure there īs loads of materials out there with tips (e. g. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/gerunds.htm )
You can give them a text and ask to find/identify/underline/highlight the gerunds/ infinitives and then come up with ideas how and why they are used, let them discover the usage by themselves rather then give the ready-made rules. Then you could ask them to make their own sentences with expressions from the text, and then proceed with exercises to let the grammar settle in so to speak, then peer-correct, play grammar gamble and then recycle the language again... something along those lines. 

28 Mar 2017     

United States

Thanks for the advice,
The students are adult Germans with a pretty good (B2) command of English, but one of them (itīs a small group of 6) has troubles with gerunds. I based my lesson on the premise that gerunds basically convert a verb into a noun and focused a bit on an activity (to swim) vs a thing (swimming).
One problem, which I think is is inherent in gerunds anyway, is determining when to say "I like swimming" vs "I like to swim."--the nuance is a bit difficult to expalin without causing more damage than good.
They are getting better, we spent the last hour going through the worksheet and I would explain where both could work or why one is better/correct, etc.
I have the advantage that there is no testing in my courses, the students are there just to improve their (primarily spoken) skills so I  told them not to get hung-up on the rules, we would just "program"  their instinct.

29 Mar 2017     

United Kingdom

I may have mentioned this before, but very few modern grammars make the traditional gerund/present participle distinction, precisely because of the potential for confusion* for both learners and teachers (native or not) alike. The authors of the magisterial Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, for example, explain at length how the distinction "cannot be sustained", and use the merged category "gerund-participle" instead. Personally, though, I prefer, like Michael Swan in his Practical English Usage, to use the term "–ing forms" and make the functional distinctions in context where and when appropriate.


*I wonīt even go into gerundials, gerundives and participial adjectives...

29 Mar 2017     

United States

That was one of those areas, I was about to enter,  realized it to be a minefield, and slowly back out of it. (Something to the affect of: " Technically, gerunds are not the present participles we use in the continuous tense, but going into it too deeply at this point will only confuse you and not get us to our objective.")

29 Mar 2017