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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 27th, 2006, 08:27 pm
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Default How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I've tried everything under the sun, including beating them over the head with warm aubergines, but they still say things like 'he live in a big house'

Is there a way to get them to use the '-s' ending or did Satan send them here to mock me?
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Unread Sep 27th, 2006, 08:45 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I generally have students practice over and over again with the third person singular by itself, no mixing - no does questions, no negatives and I usually use one verb at a time starting with likes, then has, plays, works, wants ... Total separate, I work with negatives and questions with does in the same fashion. But that's with children who don't mind repetition and slower paced progress.

For adults... I got nothing.

My adult students know the rules, practice just fine but can't use them when speaking. To quote you from long ago, maybe it doesn't really matter. I find that the third person singular -s or plural -s are one of the last things to get worked out, just like articles. The third person singular -s doesn't impede meaning, so unless they're not able to answer correctly for TOEIC, TOEFL, or other tests, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
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Unread Sep 28th, 2006, 01:27 am
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I've had this problem. I use a body action when I say the 's'. For example: I'll give the first person sentence: "I live in a big house." then I'll give he/she/name version of it: "He liveS in a big house." When I get to lives (our whatever else your adding the 's' to) I'll do to things:
1) I say "lives" longer to really emphasize it.
2) I take a "lunging" step forward as I say the 's'.

Practice lots and switch between live and lives (while lunging forward for the 's').

If they miss the 's' I just lunge forward as if I was saying it and they usually get it.
This won't work for all students, but it has worked for LOADS of mine.

Hope that helps,
Eli
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Unread Sep 28th, 2006, 07:31 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

Thanks simplyesl, emphasising sounds is a trick that 'mindreaders' use, incidentally, to place ideas in people's heads before they 'read their minds'. I think it could work for these guys.

Time to get psychic on them. psycho? psycholinguistic?
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Unread Sep 28th, 2006, 08:40 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

Quote:
Quote emile
Thanks simplyesl, emphasising sounds is a trick that 'mindreaders' use, incidentally, to place ideas in people's heads before they 'read their minds'. I think it could work for these guys.
that's pretty interesting! i never knew that though ive never been to a mind reader either.

psycholinguistic
too bad this wasn't an option while i was still in school.
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Unread Oct 11th, 2006, 02:22 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I sometimes draw a large S on the palm of my hand and when a student makes the mistake I just wave at them. They then self-correct.

You need to distinguish between 3 types of learners :
  • beginners, who haven't fully internalised the rule yet. They need to keep hearing the correct form and "noticing" it until it's assimilated. Let them speak and then repeat the correct form, making sure they've noticed the correction.
  • intermediates who know the correct form but, in the heat of the discussion are more concentrated on what they want to say than how they say it. At this level, they're overloaded -they can't yet focus on expressing meaning and on accurate form at the same time. In this case, take notes, put the mistakes up on the board and let them self correct after the activity.
  • advanced students who have the error as a "fossilised" component of their language. They know the rule too, but in their spontaneous production continue to simplify. These are the ones I wave at, in the hope that the signal (they know exactly what it means) spurs them on to thinking about form and meaning at the same time.
So smile and wave, smile and wave - as they say in Madagascar.
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Unread Oct 11th, 2006, 07:28 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I actually have a variation of the smile and wave thing. I get the students to write an 's' on a piece of paper that I tape to the wall. So I 'smile and point' at that. This is supposed to be my interpretation of the 'word wall' project for advanced students.

It is effective to a point, but I think the mistake I made was putting too many things on the wall and overloading them. (after all, 's' is not the only regular mistake they make). Or maybe because they are not fully advanced yet and find it difficult to monitor their language.
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Unread Oct 19th, 2006, 09:16 am
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

With my kids I repeat the error in a questioning way, for example,

He live in China

I say:

He live?

And they then provide the correct answer.

That is quite intrusive and the smile and wave thing is or course far better if you are doing a fluency type of activity.

I actually think that the warm aubergine idea is excellent and am surprised when you say it didn't work. It's just the kind of pattern interrupt that would make something new stick.

You could dedicate a lesson to doing a fluency type of activity with the one exception that this particular error will not be allowed. Every time someone makes the error you throw a warm aubergine at them, or squeeze a ball that makes a sound, or they have to stand up clap their hands turn round and sit down again - so that they really really start thinking about getting that S on the end of their verbs.

Sure sounds like a lot of fun trying anyway!
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 19th, 2006, 07:26 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

Thinking about it, this '-s' business illustrates a difficult concept in teaching English. That is; we teach them, we do guided practice and free practice, but they still don't get it right. Whatever method you use, it seems to take multiple reminders before they can start to internalise the rule.

The scientist in me says... there must be an easier way!
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Unread Oct 21st, 2006, 03:46 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

You might be interested in having a look at an article by James Trotta on natural order morpheme acquisition which was published on An ELT Notebook today. He discusses the problem. Click on the link below, then go to Oct 21 or find it under the Error and Feedback section.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 28th, 2009, 12:55 am
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

In Germany we say ...

he, she, it dass S muss mit !!

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Last edited by Eric : Jan 28th, 2009 at 09:59 am. Reason: Removed website promotion from content of post.
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Unread Jan 28th, 2009, 01:26 am
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

Quote:
In Germany we say ...

he, she, it dass S muss mit !!

That's pretty slick. I'll have to remember that for when I get any German students.
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Unread Feb 1st, 2009, 05:59 am
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

]In Germany we say ...
he, she, it dass S muss mit !!

In France we say : he , she, it , il faut mettre un S!!!
And at school in tests teachers take away 1 point from the final mark. it works!!
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Feb 2nd, 2009, 03:28 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

You may want to help them "notice" the /s/, but it is late learned because it carries no meaning. I would not spend too much time on it.
My students play a game to draw attention to the /s/. I make a wheel with a spinner (a brad holding a paperclip). The wheel is divided into 8 parts. In each part is a stem sentence, one singular, one plural...like this: A turtle..../Turtles.../ A bear.../Bears.../ They have to finish the sentence using one of the words from the word bank (live/eat/like...).Beyond that, I have an editing chart and the /s/ is listed along with punctuation (self-checking).
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Unread Mar 6th, 2009, 05:13 am
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Default Make it an "s" beginning....

Hey.

In many cases, that "s" sound at the end of 3rd person singular in the simple present is actually the consonant sound that starts off the first syllable of the word that follows it:

He lives in New York = he lif si noo eeork.

Repeating over and over again "3rd person singular in simple present always ends in "s" there is NO exception" is a nice reminder but does not always help when that hissing sound needs to be produced. Since many languages are actually pronounced consonant -- vowel, doing this kind of liaison practice might help.

Fortunately, the simple present is not used as often as other tenses or modes of verbs and this kind of error is probably only really a sore thumb when doing simple present exercises in the language classroom. Must be insisted upon for correct use but not going to get in the way during a chat over a beer....or kool-aide as might be the case.

peace,
revel.
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Unread Mar 14th, 2009, 04:21 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

One trick I used before is to have lots of little cards of pieces of paper with the letter s on them. Each time your student leaves off an S...you toss them a card...you could even have just a plastic cup and pop a card in every time they miss an S.

If you make it clear that they don't want to receive these cards (make it fun and negative...oooo no...Don’t give me a card!!) They will start to be more aware of it. You can also use it as a way to show progress...at the end of each class...count up how many cards they have...and see if they are getting less and less each time.

I also used paper clips in a cup for general mistakes. They start the class with 20 and every time they make a mistake I take one away. You would be amazed at how attached they get to the paperclips. "Noooo Diana...don't take away my paper clip!!!" It is quite hilarious...and competitive...and these are business people in their 20's and up.

Just my two cents.
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Unread Mar 3rd, 2011, 04:02 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

I have some ideas for games that help to improve the 3rd person singular. I posted them here:

Third Person Games
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  #18 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 4th, 2011, 03:18 pm
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Default Re: How can I get them to use the '-s' ending?

Quote:
Quote gmalara View Post
I have an editing chart and the /s/ is listed along with punctuation (self-checking).
Any chance you could post your editing chart here under Worksheets? My 16-year-olds could sure use help with self-correcting their written work.
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