Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Teaching Prepositions to ESL Students

No matter how advanced my ESL students are, prepositions are the final frontier. Why is it that learners of English as a Second Language have so much trouble with prepositions?

If you think about it, prepositions probably have more exceptions than any other grammar points. Another problem is that many prepositions are parts of phrasal verbs, so they don’t follow any rules. You just have to memorize them.

Take the preposition “in” for example. “In” can be logical a lot of the time, but wouldn’t it be logical to be “in” an airplane, rather than “on” an airplane? And yet, we say “on the plan.”

When teaching ESL students prepositions, you can teach students the general rules, but you also have to ask them to memorize certain expressions, like “on the bus.” And you have to ask them to memorize phrasal verbs, as well. For example, “pick up” and “pick out,” and just a few hundred others.


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