I’ve always wondered how it is possible to teach someone something from scratch, especially when it comes to grammar and learners who are just starting with a new foreign language. It can be really difficult to explain certain grammar structures without using meta-language, but that’s exactly what can happen if you are teaching young learners or someone who has no idea what an infinitive is, let alone tense or aspect. It’s even more difficult when there are some language structures that do not appear in their mother tongue and then you really have to give your best to make it understandable and as concrete as possible.
Imperative can be tricky, but if you introduce some culture and make it fun, your students might just come around eventually. There is a beautiful poem written by W. H. Auden called “Funeral Blues”, which you can use to introduce the imperative. Tell your students to read the poem and circle all the verbs. Afterwards ask the students to whom the author is speaking, what he wants the reader to do and how the author does that. Together you can name the forms of the verbs that are used to instruct someone to do something and conclude that imperative form is used for commands.
Another great thing for practicing imperative are recipes. For this activity your students should work in pairs. Prepare the envelopes with recipes in advance and distribute the envelopes to each pair. Each envelope contains two recipes and “ingredients” for the meals, which are written on pieces of paper. Instruct them to do the activity as follows: “One member of the pair should take the “Tortilla recipe” and the other “Cheese Omelet recipe”. Also take the ingredients you need. Now each student should fill in the blanks on their own recipe and then instruct the other student to make their meal with the ingredients. Those who receive instructions should do exactly what they are told.” This way your students will practice giving instructions and commands.
I’m feeling extremely generous this week, so here’s my lesson plan for this class on imperative. All the other materials can be downloaded from the links in the post.
Hope this helps!