Teaching gerunds and infinitives to English language students can be challenging. Native English speakers use gerunds and infinitive forms naturally without even realizing it. But for ESL students, understanding what gerunds and infinitives are, when to use them, and the differences between gerunds and other verb forms can be particularly difficult.
To help you teach gerunds and infinities, we have put together this fun lesson plan. This gerunds and infinitives lesson plan includes fun activities plus ideas and tips for teaching gerunds and initives to English language learners.
This lesson plan will focus on using gerunds and infinitives to talk about hobbies in English, but the activities in this lesson plan can be easily adapted to teach gerunds and infinitives using another target language.
Gerunds and Infinitives Lesson Plan
Warm Up And Introduction To Gerunds
Gerunds look exactly the same as the present progressive tense of verbs but function as a noun in a sentence. So, to start the lesson, the first thing to do is to review the present progressive tense. Using this PowerPoint presentation about hobbies, show students the slides and ask them what he/she is doing.
ESL students are usually taught the present progressive tense early on, so they should be familiar with this verb form. After reviewing the present progressive tense, write some present progressive tense sentences on the board. For example, ‘She is playing the guitar.’ Ask students to identify the verb in the sentence (playing). Do this with a few different sentences until students can confidently identify the present progressive verb.
Next, it’s time to show students the difference between present progressive verbs and gerunds. Write another example sentence on the board, this time including a gerund. For example, ‘I like reading.’. Ask students to try to identify the verb in this sentence (like).
At this point, many students might incorrectly identify ‘reading’ as the verb, when in fact it is a gerund. This creates a great opportunity to introduce what gerunds are to students. Explain to students that the verb in the sentence ‘I like reading.’ is ‘like’ and that ‘reading’ functions as a noun. Explain that ‘reading’ is the name of the activity that you like.
Practice Making Gerund Sentences
Now that students have a basic grasp of gerunds, it’s time for students to make their own sentences using gerunds. Talking about hobbies and what students like and don’t like to do is a great way to get students used to using gerunds.
Using the same hobbies PowerPoint presentation, practice making sentences using gerunds. First, start with sentences with simple, one-word gerunds. For example, ‘I like reading’, ‘he likes cooking’, etc.
Then, introduce some gerund phrases. For example, ‘She likes playing the guitar.’ Explain to students that in this example, ‘playing the guitar’ functions as the noun and is the name of the activity that she likes.
Activity – What’s Your Hobby
Next, to reinforce what students have learned about gerunds, it’s time for a fun speaking activity. To begin, give students a few minutes to ask their partners about their hobbies. Be sure to model how to ask about someone’s hobbies and how to answer using gerunds.
For example, you might ask students to ask their partner, “What do you do in your spare time?” and they might answer with sentences such as “I like playing the guitar.”, “I like reading books.”, etc.
After a few minutes, stop the class and ask students one by one to share with the class what hobbies their partner has. To make this more fun, you can pass a ball around the class to music, and when the music stops, the person with the ball must tell you about their partner’s hobbies.
To make it even more fun, test your students’ memories by asking them if they can remember what their classmates’ hobbies were.
Once students have had plenty of practice making sentences with gerunds while talking about their hobbies, it’s time to introduce infinitives.
After learning that gerunds function as a noun in a sentence, it is relatively easy to teach students that infinities can also be used to function as a noun.
To demonstrate this to students, ask them again about their hobbies and write their answers on the board using sentences with gerunds. For example, ‘I like reading books.’.
Next, explain to students that the same sentence can be made by replacing the gerund with the infinitive form. Write the example on the board using the infinitive form and ask students to tell you what the difference is. So, rather than ‘I like reading books.’ the infinitive form would be ‘I like to read books.’
Explain to students that just as a gerund can function as a noun, so can an infinitive in certain circumstances.
Once students understand, ask students again to talk with their partners and ask them about their hobbies. This time, instruct students to answer using the infinitive form rather than the gerund form.
Review – Gerund and Infinitive Game
To review this lesson about gerunds and infinitives, you can use this fun game about hobbies.
To play, simply show the video in class. There are 10 questions. Each question asks students in a different way about their hobbies. Then students will see a picture of a hobby hidden behind some colored shapes. As the shapes slowly disappear, students should try to guess what hobby it is.
When students guess, encourage them to answer using the gerund or the infinitive form.