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Teacher's Corner: Gerunds and Infinitives
This month’s Teacher’s Corner explores the uses of gerunds and infinitives, how to use them, and when.

Gerunds and infinitives are both verbs that function as nouns in a sentence. Gerunds are verbs that end in -ing and act as nouns. Their ability to act as nouns means that they can be

Subjects in a sentence:

Swimming is healthy.

Objects of the verb:

I enjoy reading books in my free time.

Or objects of a preposition:

I am concerned about flying for the first time.

Meanwhile, infinitives combine to with the base form of a verb. Like gerunds, infinitives can also function as nouns, acting as subjects of sentences or objects of a verb. Additionally, infinitives can be found in some other sentence structures.

Some verbs connect with infinitives to form more interesting sentences:

                  I hope to become an astronaut in the future.

Other verbs take an object and then an infinitive:

                  The teacher reminded us to bring our homework tomorrow.

Infinitive phrases are also used in sentences with it as the subject:

                  It is valuable to know a second or even third language.

Gerunds and infinitives can be challenging for students because there are many verbs in English, and knowing which verbs can be followed by a gerund, infinitive, or both requires memorization. Adding to the challenge is the variety of sentence structures in which gerunds and infinitives can be used; even the examples above do not present a complete list of all their uses.

In this month’s Teacher’s Corner, we will practice gerunds and infinitives to help students on the path to memorizing how each can function in a sentence. Each week students will have the opportunity to practice gerund and infinitive structures through speaking, listening, and reading activities. Along the way, students will discuss interesting jobs, explore the life of professional video gamers, make some plans for their future, and learn more about countries of the world:

Week 1 - Unique Jobs

Week 2 - Professional Video Gamer

Week 3 - Preparing for the Future

Week 4 - Planning a Trip

Week 1 begins the month with an activity discussing unique jobs and using infinitives with like to, want to, need to, and hope to structures. In Week 2 students will learn about the lives and careers of professional video gamers while practicing gerunds and infinitives. Week 3 encourages students to think about their futures and make plans using infinitives. Finally, Week 4 concludes this month’s Teacher’s Corner with an exercise centered on travel and learning about other countries.

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Table of Contents

Week 1 - Unique JobsExpand

This month’s Teacher’s Corner explores the uses of gerunds and infinitives, how to use them, and when. This week we begin the month with an activity focused on unique jobs that uses infinitives in the verb phrases like to, want to, need to, and hope to.

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Reading, speaking (primary focus); writing (secondary focus)         

Goals

During this activity students will

·       Practice using infinitives within the context of discussing jobs

·       Practice speaking skills by discussing interesting jobs and skills needed for those jobs

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper, recording devices (optional)

Preparation

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print out copies of the Unique Jobs cards in Appendix 1. Print enough copies so that half of the students have a job title card and half the students have a job description card.
  3. Cut out the Unique Jobs cards to make a stack of job title cards and job description cards.

Activity Part One: Job description jumble

In this part of the activity, students will match job descriptions to the job titles. The goal of this portion of the activity is to introduce students to jobs they may not know while practicing reading infinitive verbs.

1.     Begin this activity by dividing the class into two groups: group A and group B.

2.     Give each student in group A one job title card. Give each student in group B one job description card.

3.     Have the students move around the classroom and match the job descriptions to the correct job title card. Once students have matched a job title to a description, they should stand together in a pair.

Note: Since these are unique jobs, many of the job titles may be unfamiliar to the students. That’s OK. The goal of this warm-up activity is to introduce students to some jobs that they may not know exist. Have the class keep making matches until they have them all correct, or as long as time permits.

4.     Once the students have matched the job descriptions to the job titles, have the pairs share their job titles and descriptions with the class. While students share their answers, check their matches for correctness. If there is a mismatch, have the class work together to make a correct match!

Activity Part two: That’s my job

1.     Begin the next part of the lesson by having the students do a Think, Pair, Share:

a.     Ask the students to think about which of the unique jobs from Part 1 is the most interesting to them.

b.     Next, have them share with a partner which job interests them and why. Encourage the students to ask questions about their partner’s answers.

c.     Finally, have the students share their unique jobs with the class.

Note: For advanced classes, have students share their partner’s unique job in order to practice using reported speech.

2.     After the Think, Pair, Share activity, ask the students if they know of any other unique or interesting jobs they would like to do in the future. Have the students continue to work with their partners to brainstorm some jobs they find unique or interesting. These can be real jobs, or students can use their imaginations to create entirely new jobs.

3.     While students are brainstorming, write the following on the board:

like to + (infinitive verb)

A location scout would be an interesting job, because I like to meet new people.

want to + (infinitive verb)

I want to travel around the world, so it would be a great job for me.

need to + (infinitive verb)

If I want to be a location scout, I need to study English and geography.

hope to + (infinitive verb)

When I get a job as a location scout, I hope to travel to New York City.

4.     Using the sentences on the board as an example, have the students write their own sentences about the unique job they find the most interesting.

a.     Note: Students do not need to strictly follow the order of sentences as written on the board. They can mix up sentences and structures to be as creative as they want to be. Encourage students to write additional sentences that provide more details about their job.

5.     To conclude this activity, have the students come to the front of the class and share their sentences.

Optional Activities:

1. Before students share their sentences, have them research their job as homework. Then in the next class, have them present their sentences along with any additional information they learned about the job.

2. Have students draw a recruitment poster for their job. Recruitment posters should be exciting to attract people to a specific job, so encourage students to be creative with their posters.

Appendix 1: Unique Jobs

Directions: Cut out the job and job description cards below. Give half of the students a job title card, and give the remaining students the matching job description cards. Have the students work together to match the job descriptions to the correct job.

Job Title

Job Description

Soil Conservationist

My job is to design plans to prevent erosion and to develop practices for using land. Much of my job is performing land-use surveys.

Jingle Writer

My job is to write short, likeable songs that can be used in commercials on television or the radio.

Personal Shopper

My job is to give advice or suggestions to people on what to buy, usually clothes. I may also spend time shopping for a customer too busy to shop.

Phlebotomist

My job is to draw blood from patients at the hospital. Doctors use these blood samples to understand why a patient is ill.

Stunt Person

My job is to act in movies when a scene is too dangerous for a movie star. In my job I might have to drive, to jump from a great height, or to fight.

Volcanologist

My job is to study the formation and activity of volcanoes and their current and historic eruptions.

Tailor

My job is to make clothes for customers. I also work to make changes to customers’ clothes so the clothes fit better.

Biomedical Engineer

My job is to create new medical devices and research new ways to treat patients who are sick.

Location Scout

My job is to visit places that can be used for filming movies. I have to find interesting places and prepare them before the directors and actors arrive.

Antiquarian

My job is to collect and study old items to learn more about the past and how people lived long ago.

 

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Week 2 - Professional Video GamerExpand

 

This week’s Teacher’s Corner practices using gerunds and infinitives through a reading activity on professional video gaming. Video gaming has become a big business, with many professional gaming teams, university teams, and national teams competing in global video game tournaments. Other video gamers have become Internet celebrities through recording themselves playing video games and broadcasting the videos. While the idea of professional gamers and online video game streaming may be new to us as teachers, there is a good chance that students are already familiar with these job opportunities. This week, while students learn to use gerunds and infinitives, take some time to learn about the wide world of video games from them!

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Reading, speaking (primary focus); writing (secondary focus)         

Goals

During this activity students will

  • Practice using gerunds and infinitives within the context of a reading activity
  • Practice speaking skills by discussing the world of video games

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper, recording devices (optional)

Preparation

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print out enough copies of the “Professional Gamer” reading in Appendix 1 for each student in the class.
  3. Read over the “Professional Gamer” Answer Key in Appendix 2 before class. Check the reading for vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to students.

Activity Part One: Professional gamer reading

1.     Begin this activity by asking the students if they play video games.

a.     Ask them what kinds of video games they play and what they enjoy about video games.

2.     Next, on the board write the word E-Sports. Ask the students if anyone knows what this word means. If any of the students knows the term, have them explain what e-sports means to the class.

a.     Note: E-Sports is defined as a multiplayer video game played competitively by professional gamers and watched by fans.

3.     Inform the students that today the class will learn about video games and e-sports through a reading activity.

4.     Distribute a copy of the reading activity in Appendix 1 to each student in class.

5.     Have the students skim the reading for any unfamiliar vocabulary terms, and provide them time to ask about any new vocabulary words.

6.     Next, have the students read the paragraphs. For each paragraph, students should decide if a gerund or an infinitive is the correct form of the verb.

7.     Give the students time to complete the reading and to fill in the gerund and infinitive blanks.

8.     Once the students are finished, have them form pairs or small groups and review their answers together. If a pair has different answers for a blank, encourage them to discuss and decide which answer is the correct one.

a.     Note: For additional reading and speaking practice, have the students read the paragraphs aloud, taking turns at each new paragraph, while they review their answers.

9.     After the pairs have checked their answers, review the answers as an entire class to double-check the answers.

Appendix 1: Professional Gamer

Directions: Read the story below on the life of a professional video game player. Then fill in the blanks with either a gerund or an infinitive form of the verb.

 

Many young people enjoy ______________ (play) video games. For most players, video games are a fun hobby _______________ (enjoy) with friends. However, some video gamers have made their hobby into a career! Two ways video games are becoming a profession are through competitive sports or by live-streaming video games over the Internet.

Video gaming as a professional sport, or e-sport, is the fastest growing sporting event in the world. Millions of people around the world like _______________ (watch) teams compete in tournaments, with first place prizes in these tournaments as high as $10 million. Due to this popularity, organizers of the Olympics are considering including e-sports in future Olympic games. In the United States, universities have begun _______________ (offer) scholarships to students _______________ (play) video games on a university team, the same as baseball, soccer, or basketball athletes. Competing as a professional video gamer is difficult. The best players in the world need _______________ (practice) up to 50 hours a week, and many players retire, or stop playing, around the age of 25, when they are considered too old to stay competitive.

Other video gamers have turned their hobby into a career as “streamers,” and many former professional gamers switch from competition to streaming video games. A streamer’s job is _______________ (play) video games online and broadcast the gameplay on his or her channel for others _______________ (watch). _______________ (watch) a streamer can be a great way _______________ (learn) about a new game or meet others who enjoy _______________ (play) the same game.

It may seem easy to broadcast yourself ______________ (play) games on the internet, but the life of a streamer can be difficult. Many streamers need _______________ (broadcast) up to eight hours a day _______________ (keep) people _______________ (watch) their channel. To keep people watching, the streamer must play a video game while _______________ (entertain) the audience watching. A streamer earns money through advertisements, so the more people who watch, the more money a streamer can earn from his or her channel.

With hard work and lots of practice, players can turn their love of video games into an exciting career as a professional athlete or as an entertaining streamer.

Appendix 2: Professional Gamer Reading Answer Key

Directions: Read the story below on the life of a professional video game player. Then fill in the blanks with either a gerund or an infinitive form of the verb.

Many young people enjoy playing video games. For most players, video games are a fun hobby to enjoy with friends. However, some video gamers have made their hobby into a career! Two ways video games are becoming a profession are through competitive sport or by live-streaming video games over the Internet.

Video gaming as a professional sport, or e-sports, is the fastest growing sporting event in the world. Millions of people around the world like to watch teams compete in tournaments, with first place prizes in these tournaments as high as $10 million. Due to this popularity, organizers of the Olympics are considering including e-sports in future Olympic games. In the United States, universities have begun to offer scholarships to students to play video games on a university team, the same as baseball, soccer, or basketball athletes. Competing as a professional video gamer is difficult. The best players in the world need to practice up to 50 hours a week, and many players retire, or stop playing, around the age of 25, when they are considered too old to stay competitive.

Other video gamers have turned their hobby into a career as a “streamer,” and many former professional gamers switch from competition to streaming video games. A streamer’s job is to play video games online and broadcast the gameplay on his or her channel for others to watch. Watching a streamer can be a great way to learn about a new game or meet others who enjoy playing the same game.

It may seem easy to broadcast yourself playing games on the internet, but the life of a streamer can be difficult. Many streamers need to broadcast up to eight hours a day to keep people watching their channel. To keep people watching, the streamer must play a video game while entertaining the audience watching. A streamer earns money through advertisements, so the more people who watch, the more money a streamer can earn from his or her channel.

With hard work and lots of practice, players can turn their love of video games into an exciting career as a professional athlete or as an entertaining streamer.

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Week 3 - Preparing for the FutureExpand

This week’s Teacher’s Corner helps students prepare for the future while practicing using infinitives. This week’s lesson introduces WOOP, which is a way of planning for future success. When using WOOP, you think of a future wish, make an outcome to achieve, consider obstacles, and finally develop a plan to make your wish come true.

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, reading (primary focus); listening, writing (secondary focus)                  

Goals

During this activity students will

  • Review infinitives while making future plans
  • Practice speaking skills by discussing their wishes for the future

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper, recording devices (optional)

Preparation

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print out the “WOOP – Verbs and Adjectives List” in Appendix 1, and make copies for each student.

Activity Part One: dreaming of the future

In this part of the activity, students work in small pairs to discuss the future.

1.     Begin this activity by writing the year that is twenty years in the future on the board. For example: If it is the year 2017, write the year 2037 on the board.

2.     Ask students to think about where they will be twenty years in the future. Where will they live? What job will they have? What will they do as a hobby or for fun in the future?

3.     Have students take out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and write down their answers to these questions. Encourage students to be as creative as possible and to write down as many details as they can.

4.     Next, have the students form pairs or small groups and share their futures with their partners. Encourage the students to ask questions about their partners’ plans.

5.     Conclude this portion of the activity by asking the students to share their plans with the entire class.

Activity Part two: Make dreams come true

1.     Begin the next part of the lesson, by asking the students, “How do you make your future goals come true?”

2.     As students share their answers in pairs or small groups to the question, write on the board the following:

WOOP

Wish

What do you want to do?

 

Outcome

Why do you want to do it?

 

Obstacle

What do you do now that keeps you from doing it?

 

Plan

What should you do to overcome the obstacle?

 

3.     Tell the students that today they will make plans for the future using WOOP. WOOP, or “Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan,” helps people think about their future as a process instead of just an idea. It encourages people to take actions that make their dreams possible.

4.     Work through an example together as a class by filling in the last column on the table. For example:

WOOP

Wish

What do you want to do?

I want to speak better English.

Outcome

Why do you want to do it?

Speaking better English would allow me to study in the United States.

Obstacle

What do you do now that keeps you from doing it?

I’m afraid to speak English with new people, so I do not improve quickly.

Plan

What should you do to overcome the obstacle?

I intend to create an English club at school to practice my speaking with friends.

5.     As a quick review, ask the students where the infinitive verbs are in the sentences above (Teachers could also ask students to idenitify gerunds here, though not the focus of this activity). As students call out the answers, circle or underline the infinitive verbs in the sentences.

6.     Next, have the students write down a table like the one above with their own plan for the future. Students can use their idea from Part 1 of this activity or create a new plan to follow.

7.     While students work on their ideas, pass out the verbs and adjectives list found in Appendix 1. Encourage students to use the verbs and adjectives in their sentences.

8.     Conclude the activity by having the students share their WOOP plans with the class.

Appendix 1: WOOP – Verbs and Adjectives List

Directions: Use the following verbs and adjectives to create sentences about the future.

Verbs Followed by Infinitives

attempt

decide

intend

plan

try

ask

expect

know how

prepare

volunteer

be able

fail

learn

promise

want

can afford

hope

need

refuse

would like

Adjectives Followed by Infinitives

afraid

determined

lucky

relieved

sorry

careful

difficult

necessary

rewarding

surprised

certain

easy

proud

right

willing

challenging

excited

ready

shocked

wrong

Directions: Use the following verbs and adjectives to create sentences about the future.

Verbs Followed by Infinitives

attempt

decide

intend

plan

try

ask

expect

know how

prepare

volunteer

be able

fail

learn

promise

want

can afford

hope

need

refuse

would like

Adjectives Followed by Infinitives

afraid

determined

lucky

relieved

sorry

careful

difficult

necessary

rewarding

surprised

certain

easy

proud

right

willing

challenging

excited

ready

shocked

wrong

 

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Week 4 - Planning a TripExpand

This month’s Teacher’s Corner explores the uses of gerunds and infinitives, how to use them, and when. This week we will conclude our gerund and infinitives activities by practicing giving and receiving travel advice.

Level

Intermediate to Advanced

Language Focus

Speaking, listening (primary focus); reading, writing (secondary focus)          

Goals

During this activity students will

  • Practice using infinitives and gerunds in the context of travel and learning about the world
  • Practice speaking and listening skills offering travel advice on a particular country

Materials

  • Teacher: whiteboard or chalkboard, markers or chalk, a timing device
  • Students: pencils or pens, notebooks or writing paper, recording devices (optional)

Preparation

This activity takes place during two separate class periods. Part One includes a homework assignment for the students to research a country. Part Two uses the completed homework for a speaking and listening activity.

  1. Read through all the materials carefully.
  2. Print the Travel Notes in Appendix 1. Make enough copies so that each student has one to complete as homework.
  3. Before class begins, write on the chalkboard the prompts and sentence structures from Appendix 1 so that the class can do an example version together.
  4. For Part Two of the activity, have one blank sheet of paper for each student to write down the name of the country they researched.
  5. Optional: On individual slips of paper, write down the names of countries. There should be the same number of countries as students in the class. Place these slips of paper in a hat or box.

Activity Part One: Homework – Travel Research

1. Begin this section of the activity by directing the students’ attention to the board.

2. Give the students time to read through the sentences written on the board. Then ask the class, “If someone came to our country to visit, what should he or she know before arriving?”

3. As a class work through the prompts on the board, filling in the information about your own country.

  • Note: An optional approach is to have students form pairs or small groups and work together to fill out the information. Then each group can share their ideas with the class.

4. After filling in all the information, provide each student with a copy of the Travel Notes from Appendix 1.

5. Explain to the students that for homework they should research another country and fill in the information on the sheet about that country.

  • Note: If students are likely to all pick the same country or similar countries, you can have students draw the names of countries out of a hat or box to ensure students all pick different countries.

Activity Part two: Travel Fair

1. After students have had the opportunity to do their research homework, begin the class by having students present their homework.

2. As students get out their homework, give each student a blank sheet of paper to use as a sign. Have the students write down the name of their country on the paper. The writing should be large enough to see from a distance.

3. Next, split the class into two groups, Group A and Group B.

  • Group A: During this turn, Group A are the travel advisers. Have them place their signs at their desk and have their travel notes ready.
  • Group B: Have the students in Group B move around the room and look at the country signs. These students should find a country to which they would like to travel. These students will also need a pen and paper to take notes about the countries they visit.

4. During this exercise have students in Group B ask questions to students in Group A about their country. The Group A students should answer the questions and provide the information they wrote down in the travel notes for homework. Students in Group B should take notes about the information they have learned.

5. After the Group B students have visited several countries, have the groups switch roles. This time, Group B presents their countries’ information, and the students in Group A visit the countries.

6. Conclude this portion of the activity by having students share the information they learned about the country they most want to visit.

 

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