Archive for the ‘Giving Instructions’ Category


In writing class my students work on writing paragraphs, and within that context they develop their sentence writing skills. Attached to this post is a very short presentation that gives students practice writing sentences that use the imperative. It also reviews some prepositions that are used when giving instructions on how to cook something. To use it, I suggest that you

  1. Show the picture and the words that are used as prompts.
  2. Ask the students to write the sentence.
  3. Ask the class to show their sentences to their partners or the people sitting near them.
  4. Show them the sentence with a blank where the preposition should be and ask them what they think the preposition is.
  5. Show them the sentence.

Note – It is always put in and add to.

Prepositions for Cooking / Writing Sentences That Use the Imperative

Source for the photo:



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When students give a speech that gives instructions or write a paragraph that gives instructions, they sometimes need to remind their listeners or readers about something. The attached presentation gives examples of reminders and the grammar that is used with them. It then presents sentences with errors. I use this presentation in class. I ask the students to sit in pairs and then show them the sentences with the errors. They work with their partners to correct the mistakes, and then we discuss the corrections as a whole class.


Image — http://blogs.colgate.edu/pancakes-syrup.jpg

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This video was very useful as an example of language that gives instructions. I used it today in my writing class, and it worked well as an introduction to several teaching points. The first time my class watched the video, pencils were down, and the students just watched for enjoyment and to get the general idea. The second viewing included a closer look and an analysis of the language used in the video. The video offers some good examples of features found in language that gives instruction.

Imperative Verbs

    • start
    • push
    • rest
    • cut
    • select
    • serve
    • enjoy
    • cajole
    • assure

Expressions That Are Useful When Giving Instructions

    • You will need _____
    • You will have to _____.
    • You need to_____.

A Reminder

    • Be(ing) careful not to _____.

The video also gave students exposure to interesting and slightly more complex introductions and conclusions than they have written so far this semester.


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This post is a combination of two earlier posts. I have taken the PowerPoint presentation that I use when my writing students practice writing paragraphs that give instruction and put it into MovieMaker. The final result is below. Microsoft recommends that you not embed sound files in a PowerPoint presentation that are over 100 KB. It is possible to do it, but it may slow the file down. For the moment, combining .wav files and PowerPoint jpegs into MovieMaker seems to be a good solution. I won’t have to embed or link sound files to PowerPoint with this method. Anyway, here is the completed “movie” which is now on YouTube. Get out the popcorn!

The link is  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=630SZQwg0Ws

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oyakothumbnailIn my beginning writing class one of the patterns of organization that we work on is giving instructions. Giving instructions is one type of process writing and perhaps the simplest type.  The first two patterns students practice in the semester are time and space order. It seems logical to work on writing instructions (or processes) after time and space order since processes use the features of time and space.

Some of the building blocks that students prepare before writing a paragraph giving instructions are the imperative tense (note: the verb put requires a location), reminders (be sure toit’s important to…),  prepositions (in, on top of), articles (a the first time you write about a singular count noun and the, the second time), and object pronouns (mix it, put them in the pan). Recipes in cookbooks often leave out articles and object pronouns and this is a good opportunity to teach students that these omissions are fine for recipe writing, but are not practiced in academic writing.

One fun activity that we do in class is write a paragraph together. Students work in pairs and as a whole class, we go through a PowerPoint presentation slide by slide, step by step. We talk about certain grammatical points, listen to each other’s sentences, and ask ourselves if we might like to add a reminder or perhaps a detail. The presentation I made is on how to make a simple Japanese dish called oyako donburi.  Feel free to use it with your students if you would like.  

The presentation is largely visual because I want the students to generate their own language, but I put in just a little bit of sound to add interest and to encourage the students to develop their paragraphs by adding more details and explanation. When I use this presentation in class, I simply talk to the class about these details, but I have added sound for you to use. Some of the sounds start automatically, but to hear others, just click on the sound icon. In order to hear the sounds in PowerPoint, they must be saved in the same folder as the presentation. Click on the link below and save the files in the same folder on your computer. If you do not need the sounds, you can use the link to the PowerPoint presentation only:     Oyako Donuburi Presentation with Sounds            The Presentation Only

This type of PowerPoint presentation might also work well at other levels of language acquisition and in a variety of subject areas. I can imagine a group of biologists working on a paragraph on cell division or on an explanation of how the kidneys work or a group of nurses explaining how to do CPR.

Oh, I’d like to also add that oyako donburi is easy to make and delicious. Try it!

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