Thursday 26 January 2017

Active and Passive Voice

Active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb.  In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb. Check out the examples below.

Sentences in Active and Passive Voice

Here are examples of sentences written in both the active voice and the passive voice, with the active voice sentence appearing first:
Harry ate six shrimp at dinner. (active)
At dinner, six shrimp were eaten by Harry. (passive)

Beautiful giraffes roam the savannah. (active)
The savannah is roamed by beautiful giraffes. (passive)

Sue changed the flat tire. (active)
The flat tire was changed by Sue. (passive)

We are going to watch a movie tonight. (active)
A movie is going to be watched by us tonight. (passive)

I ran the obstacle course in record time. (active)
The obstacle course was run by me in record time. (passive)

The crew paved the entire stretch of highway. (active)
The entire stretch of highway was paved by the crew. (passive)

Mom read the novel in one day. (active)
The novel was read by Mom in one day. (passive)

The critic wrote a scathing review. (active)
A scathing review was written by the critic. (passive)

I will clean the house every Saturday. (active)
The house will be cleaned by me every Saturday. (passive)

The staff is required to watch a safety video every year. (active)
A safety video will be watched by the staff every year. (passive)

She faxed her application for a new job. (active)
The application for a new job was faxed by her. (passive)

Tom painted the entire house. (active)
The entire house was painted by Tom. (passive)

The teacher always answers the students’ questions. (active)
The students’ questions are always answered by the teacher. (passive)

The choir really enjoys that piece. (active)
That piece is really enjoyed by the choir. (passive)

Who taught you to ski? (active)
By whom were you taught to ski? (passive)

The forest fire destroyed the whole suburb. (active)
The whole suburb was destroyed by the forest fire. (passive)

The two kings are signing the treaty. (active)
The treaty is being signed by the two kings. (passive)

The cleaning crew vacuums and dusts the office every night. (active)
Every night the office is vacuumed and dusted by the cleaning crew. (passive)

Larry generously donated money to the homeless shelter. (active)
Money was generously donated to the homeless shelter by Larry. (passive)

No one responded to my sales ad. (active)
My sales ad was not responded to by anyone. (passive)

The wedding planner is making all the reservations. (active)
All the reservations will be made by the wedding planner. (passive)

Susan will bake two dozen cupcakes for the bake sale. (active)
For the bake sale, two dozen cookies will be baked by Susan. (passive)

The science class viewed the comet. (active)
The comet was viewed by the science class. (passive)

Who ate the last cookie? (active)
The last cookie was eaten by whom? (passive)

Alex posted the video on Facebook. (active)
The video was posted on Facebook by Alex. (passive)

The director will give you instructions. (active)
Instructions will be given to you by the director. (passive)

Thousands of tourists view the Grand Canyon every year. (active)
The Grand Canyon is viewed by thousands of tourists every year. (passive)

The homeowners remodeled the house to help it sell. (active)
The house was remodeled by the homeowners to help it sell. (passive)

The team will celebrate their victory tomorrow. (active)
The victory will be celebrated by the team tomorrow. (passive)

The saltwater eventually corroded the metal beams. (active)
The metal beams were eventually corroded by the saltwater. (passive)

The kangaroo carried her baby in her pouch. (active)
The baby was carried by the kangaroo in her pouch. (passive)

Some people raise sugar cane in Hawaii. (active)
Sugar cane is raised by some people in Hawaii. (passive)

These different sentences written in both active voice and passive voice illustrate the differences.



Dear Whiteman
You asked us to wear coat under hot sun, we did
You said we should speak your language, we have obediently ignored ours.
You asked us to tie a rope round our necks like goats, we have obeyed without questioning.
You asked our ladies to wear dead people’s hair instead of the natural ones God gave to them,
They have obeyed
You said we should marry just one woman in the midst of plenty damsels, we reluctantly agreed
You said our decent girls should wear catapults instead of the conventional pants,
They have obeyed
You asked us to use rubber in order to control our birth rate, we agreed though it denies us of the sweetness of SEX.
Now you want our MEN to sleep with fellow MEN and WOMEN with fellow WOMEN so that God would visit uslike Sodom and Gomora?
White folk, we say NO!! No by force to be your friend?
We no go agree with you this time.
As proud Africans, we say a huge NO to GAY relationships
If you no be GAY nor LESBIAN



Here is a selection of top tips to help teachers of English develop their professional competence. They cover issues of professional conduct, strategies for dealing with students and their language production, the importance of meaningful communication and the example the teacher sets. This is the first of two such articles.
Professional conduct
  • Be prompt and punctual because promptness and punctuality lead to systematic work.
  • You are bound by the virtue of your professional growth to change and modify your approach to fit the ever-changing factors in the fields of learning and teaching. Therefore, seek the best ways to improve and brush up your English.
  • Evaluate your teaching tactics occasionally through self-criticism, which is highly constructive and leads to perfection.
Classroom management
  • Create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom to achieve full student participation.
  • Discipline and firmness are of paramount importance especially when students practice group work. The friendly relationship between you and the class has its vital impact on the students' attitude towards learning the language.
Teacher's approach
  • Be creative because much of the teacher's success depends upon his/her imaginative power, originality and creativity. Teaching is more an art than a science.
  • Be an example of a good planner and organizer. By doing so, you encourage your students to develop their planning and organizational abilities.
  • Preparing the lessons regularly and adequately makes you surefooted in the classroom. It sets your mind at ease and makes you realize the main aim of the lesson. Do not over-plan. Make your lesson plan brief, informative, clear and purposeful. Include various activities to suit the individual differences in the classroom.
  • Be active. An active teacher means an active lesson. Avoid being indifferent because this creates a sort of boredom in the classroom.
  • Make your lesson enjoyable because the ability to enjoy is the key to effective learning. Remember that what one learns through enjoyment, one never forgets and its effect on the memory never fades. Lack of interest means lack of response.

Language production
  • Involve your students in authentic communication situations, which encourage a continuous flow of speech. In fact, the acquisition of the language depends on practicing it naturally.
  • Give your students every possible chance to use the language. Talk as little as possible to give the students the opportunity to interact. Do not over teach. Make the lesson student centred, not teacher centred.
  • Teach the language in appropriate social contexts. Relate the world to a sentence, the sentence to a situation and the situation to real life.
  • Use the teaching media properly to make the lesson more attractive and perceptive. They save time and effort.
  • Use effective means to eradicate errors. Always look at what they have achieved rather than at what they have failed to achieve.
  • Be accurate in evaluating your students' achievement. The marks given should be in conformity with the real standard of the class.

In a standard language focus lesson following a PPP (present, practice, produce) or similar format, the target language (structure or vocabulary) is normally presented in context, then isolated and analysed. Analysis of the language consists of two sub-stages, often known as highlighting and concept checking.
Highlighting is taking the model sentence and showing, telling or eliciting what the problems are in terms of form, function, and phonology.
Concept checking is checking the understanding of difficult aspects of the target structure in terms of function and meaning. Concept checking is vital, since learners must fully understand the structure before any intensive practice of form and phonology is carried out.
Ways of checking understanding
Concept checking is normally achieved by the use of a set of questions designed to ensure comprehension of the target language, raise awareness of its problems, and to indicate to the teacher that the learners have fully understood.
The question 'Do you understand?', or the remark 'OK?' do not achieve any of these aims, and are unlikely to receive a truthful answers from all the learners. Concept questions are one way of checking understanding, but are often used in combination with other methods, often visual, depending on the nature of the target language involved. Here are some other methods:
  • Time lines to establish tenses. Time lines are not a substitute for concept questions.
  • Truth lines to establish probability e.g. must be / could be / might be / can't be.
  • Reality lines to establish degree of reality or imagination e.g. conditional sentences
  • Clines to show grades or scales e.g. yellow-amber-orange, frequency adverbs
  • Pictures to distinguish between similar objects e.g. cup / mug, lane / road / highway
  • Discrimination to check function and register e.g. Do I say 'hey!' to my boss?
  • Negative checking e.g. Do I say 'I were'?
  • Translation (where appropriate and possible).
  • Extensions to consolidate understanding. Homework often reveals lack of understanding, as do guided practice exercises.
Concept questions
Concept questions themselves are often difficult to construct since they involve clarifying function and meaning using simple language but not the target language itself.
Apart from their classroom value, thinking of good questions also helps inexperienced teachers to understand the complexities of form, function and meaning, and to practise grading their language. Some basic tips for good concept questions are:
  • Make sure the questions are simple and that no difficult language is required to answer the question. Yes/no questions, either/or questions and simple 'wh' questions are particularly effective
  • Don't use the new (target) grammar in your questions
  • Don't use unfamiliar vocabulary
  • Bring out basic concepts such as 'time' and 'tense' in your questions
  • Use as many questions as possible to check various aspects of the language and to cover as many learners as possible.
Some examples
These examples show how concept questions could be used to help differentiate between the main functions of the present simple and present continuous.
Target sentence: Look! They're painting the wall
Checking questions

Is it happening now?
Can you see it? Yes
Is the painting finished?
Are they painting now?
Is this the past, present or future?
Target sentence: She's a shop assistant. She works in a shop
Checking questions

Has she got a job?
Is she working now
Don't know
Does she work there every day?
Is this the past, present or future?
Present, but also past and probably future.
This example shows how concept questions can be used to clarify the meaning of more complex structures:
Target sentence: If I won the lottery, I'd buy a new car
Checking questions

Have I won the lottery?
Am I going to win the lottery?
Probably not
Am I going to buy a new car?
Probably not
Has he got a lottery ticket?
Is this real, or imaginary?

 Learning to construct concept questions
One way of beginning to think about concept questions is to break the meaning of a word or structure into components. A vocabulary item might be diagrammatically represented. Here is an example of the concepts included in the word 'bed-sit

Questions may be of different types:
  • Yes/no questions. 'Is a bed-sit a room?', 'Are there other rooms in the house?', Can you sleep in it?'.
  • 50/50 chance questions. 'Is it a room or a building?', 'Is it cheap or expensive?' Do you buy it or pay money every week or month?'
  • Information questions. 'Who lives in it?', 'How many people live in it?'
  • Discrimination questions. 'Do you only sleep in it?', 'Can you cook a meal in it?', 'Is it the same as a flat?'
  • Shared experience questions. 'Is there a bed-sit in this building?'
  • Life experience/culture questions. 'Have you ever lived in a bed-sit?' 'Are their bed-sits in your city/country?'
  • Remember that the answers 'sometimes', 'it depends' and 'I don't know' can tell you as much as 'yes' or 'no'.
Another way of constructing concept questions is by writing a sentence containing all the elements of the concept, from which questions can be formed. This is a useful method when distinguishing between two functions of the same structure, particularly where those functions would be expressed by different forms or tenses in other languages. For example:
  • 'He's been eating garlic.'
    Concept: He isn't eating garlic now, and I didn't see him eating it, but I know he was eating garlic because I can smell it.
  • 'Harry's been working here for two years.'
    Concept: He started working here two years ago, he's still working here, and he'll probably continue working here.
The value of concept questions should not be underestimated, but many teachers either forget to use them or find them difficult to construct. Teachers are often satisfied that the learners 'seem to understand' on the basis of their performance in practice exercises. A few important points to remember are:
  • Concept questions are particularly valuable after the presentation and explanation of an item, and may be asked at any stage during a lesson. They are valuable after guided practice, particularly if the learners seem not to have grasped the target language fully, and at the end of a lesson, as a final check and review.
  • Time lines and other devices are not substitutes for concept questions. They are aids to explanation, but do not necessarily check understanding. Concept questions, however, may be used to elicit a timeline from the learners.
  • Concept questions are particularly valuable where a concept does not exist, or is different in the mother tongue (e.g. the perfect aspect, ways of expressing the future), and where a language item is culturally loaded as in the case of the word 'subway' which has very different meanings in British and American English. In such cases, concept questions often form part of the initial teaching process.
  • Concept questions are also useful for raising awareness of association and connotation, and for drawing attention to collocations and fixed expressions. They are also good listening practice for learners, and can even lead on to class activities such as guessing games in which the learners write their own questions.
  • The teacher does not have to concept check every new item. In many cases, function and meaning are clear because the language has been presented in a meaningful context.
  • When learners perform poorly in guided or less guided practice, it is often because they are not clear about the function or meaning of the target language. This may well be because the teacher has asked 'do you understand?' or 'is that clear' rather than good concept questions.
Non-verbal communication (body language, paralinguistics) has been a focus of attention for some time in areas such as the refinement of presentation skills, developing social skills, and even as a realistic alternative to the lie-detector test. Relatively little attention, however, has been given in language teaching to non-verbal communication as a complement to spoken language, though recent trends in neuro linguistic programming regarding mirroring and parallel body language have filtered into current research and practice.
Components of non-verbal communication
Since it is said that as little as ten percent of communication takes place verbally, and that facial expressions, gestures and posture form part of our culture and language, it seems reasonable that we should at least raise learners' awareness of non-verbal communication in order to improve their use of natural language, increase confidence and fluency and help to avoid inter-cultural misunderstandings.
On the grounds that; 'It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it', there is much to be said for teaching non-verbal communication either parallel to, or integrated with, a language and skills based syllabus, in the same way that phonology is often treated.
Non-verbal communication is a system consisting of a range of features often used together to aid expression. The combination of these features is often a subconscious choice made by native speakers or even sub-groups/sub-cultures within a language group. The main components of the system are:
  • Kinesics (body language) Body motions such as shrugs, foot tapping, drumming fingers, eye movements such as winking, facial expressions, and gestures
  • Proxemics (proximity) Use of space to signal privacy or attraction
  • Haptics Touch
  • Oculesics Eye contact
  • Chronemics Use of time, waiting, pausing
  • Olfactics Smell
  • Vocalics Tone of voice, timbre, volume, speed
  • Sound symbols Grunting, mmm, er, ah, uh-huh, mumbling
  • Silence Pausing, waiting, secrecy
  • Posture Position of the body, stance
  • Adornment Clothing, jewellery, hairstyle
  • Locomotion Walking, running, staggering, limping
Of the above, body language (particularly facial expressions and gestures), eye contact, proximity and posture are probably those which learners most need to be aware of in terms of conveying meaning, avoiding misunderstandings and fitting in with the target culture.
In terms of skills development, non-verbal clues should not be underestimated when developing both the listening and speaking skills. Like grammatical structures, non-verbal communication has form, function and meaning, all of which may vary from language to language.

Teaching non-verbal communication

Relatively few techniques have been suggested for teaching non-verbal communication, but some suggestions are:
  • Learners discuss the meaning of gestures and expressions (either demonstrated by the teacher, from pictures, or from existing published materials. This is particularly effective with multilingual classes
  • Learners mime adjectives of both physical and emotional feelings
  • Learners watch a video clip without sound, discuss body language, relationships, emotions and feelings, then write the dialogue
  • Learners act out a dialogue using gesture and expression only
  • Learners make up a dialogue based on mime
  • Learners, in pairs, take turns in listening to each other for 30 seconds, using only non-verbal responses.
A Non-verbal communication lesson

Below I've described a sixty-minute lesson which was delivered by a trainee teacher on a recent course at the Izmir University of Economics in Turkey. The lesson was planned by the trainee, with advice and some materials provided by the course tutor. Her aims were to raise learners' awareness of non-verbal communication, to present a variety of non-verbal cues and to give the learners the opportunity to practice and produce some of these cues, as well as to develop and integrate all four skills. The class comprised adult students at good intermediate level.
The lesson consisted of six stages
  • A running dictation using a short text about non-verbal communication, the instructions for which were given without speaking by gesture and mime.
  • A brief brainstorming activity to elicit and teach key terms.
  • Focus on gestures through cartoon pictures of different hand or facial gestures. Students were asked to discuss the meanings in their own culture, were shown a variety of other meanings in other cultures, and were invited to contribute other examples.
  • Practice using a scripted dialogue. Pairs of students rehearsed parts, then acted out the dialogue using expressions, gestures and posture.
  • Students built dialogues based on silent viewing of a short video clip.
  • Students combined verbal and non-verbal communication in the context of a short extract from a play.

On reflection, this may have been an overambitious lesson, attempting to take students from an introduction to a concept with which they were unfamiliar to a full-blown production stage.
Although the learners found the first three stages of the lesson both interesting and entertaining, they found the practice activities progressively more difficult, though this may have been due to the selection of materials. However, such immersion in the topic may be the only way to fully expose intermediate students to a totally unfamiliar area.
There are a number of lessons to be learnt from the experience:
  • Non-verbal communication needs to be taught in small chunks in appropriate situations where the situational or thematic context lends itself to the language.
  • Time needs to be devoted to confidence-building, creativity and other drama-based activities which help learners to produce natural language and to use expressions and gestures to reinforce meaning.
  • Non-verbal communication, like phonology, should be taught from beginner level. Crash courses in natural language production are unlikely to work. An awareness-raising approach is appropriate.
  • Gesture and expression, in particular, add an extra dimension to language, and certainly add to the cultural component that verbal communication carries. An awareness of non-verbal cues also helps to avoid some of the misunderstandings which are the inevitable but annoying consequence of cultural interpretation of meaning.

According to David Vale and Anne Feunteun in 'Teaching children English: A training course for teachers of English to children', kids start developing their identity as readers and listeners from the age of three or four years old, because they start constructing their world of meaning and imagination when they are first exposed to different stories of life. It is vitally important that we, as teachers, support this development.
Constructive and creative comprehension
Storytelling is a kind of reading which requires children to be active participants in the construction of meaning. Children get fully involved while listening to a story and they also feel joy and satisfaction. As language teachers, we are always tempted to regard the teaching of reading and listening only as a variety of comprehension activity but in doing so we sometimes discourage children from becoming "good" readers of English. Using storytelling in class, children develop a constructive and creative comprehension.
What constructive and creative comprehension implies
When children listen to a story, in terms of comprehension response, they get involved in different types of mental processes. First, they create a mental picture of what they are listening to. Then, they can imagine what is going to happen next. Children also identify themselves with the characters and situations in the story relating them to their own experiences. Last but not least, children apply their own values to those found in the story. Therefore, each child's response will be unique because it will demonstrate individual interpretation, it will relate to the whole story and it can be also discussed and shared with others in the class.
Making it happen
Choose a story or write one of your own. When you make the selection, think on the age level and proficiency level of your students. You may use a well-known fairy tale, a scary story or any suitable reader you find in your school-library.

This is what I did when I told my 5th grade students a "scary" story some time ago.
  • Ask students to bring a flash-light and a cushion to the class.
  • Have the students sit in a circle on the floor.
  • Turn off the lights and ask students to switch on their torches and place them in front of them so they light up their faces.
  • Tell them the story with much feeling. You may read it but it is better if you know it by heart, don't be afraid of using your own words.
  • Use colourful pictures to help you. It is vital you properly use your voice, gestures, facial expressions, mimes, rhythm and speed to help the children understand the story as well as getting them more involved in it. (You may also use background music)
  • When you finish, ask students some questions which stimulate a
    creative and constructive response. For example;
    • How was the house on the moors different from your house?
    • Could you describe the characters?
    • What happened when …?
    • What do you think it happened…?
    • Why do you think …..?
    • What would you do if …?
  • Most important of all, take the children back as readers into the whole story without the need to focus mechanically on specific parts of the text.
  • As a follow-up activity, you may ask students to change the ending which can be shared with other classes later or to role-play a dialogue between the characters of the story. You may also challenge your students to bring their own stories to tell the class in the target language.
  • If you are going to retell another kind of story, you may dress up as one of the characters or you may also decorate the classroom with some of the story setting. Feel self-confident and try all what you think your kids will enjoy.

I am fully convinced that storytelling from teacher to student or from student to student carries many benefits. Students can lose themselves in the characters, plots and situations, they lower their anxiety levels and at the same time, they increase their self- confidence and esteem. As they progress, the students can improve their abilities to comprehend and later produce the target language.

Although we now live in a high tech world and have access to a variety of teaching aids, there is one aid that is convenient, portable, uses no electricity, can be used effectively in light or dark and is available all the time. Yes, the teacher him or herself!
In my experience as a teacher I have discovered that I can involve students more in classroom discussion and activities if I follow certain simple steps.

Sitting behind a desk or standing on a dais creates a "distance" between the teacher and the students. Try to have an aisle and enough space between the rows so that you can easily reach those at the back. This way you can talk to individual students, allow the shy ones to ask questions quietly without the fear of embarrassment, as well as check their work and help them.

Some movement on your side is essential, because it allows the students to focus on you.
  • Stepping forward to emphasis a point, small steps towards different sides of the class lets the student feel that the teacher is taking genuine interest in what he or she is saying.
Use body language
Your body should be in your control. Hold it in such a way that you look alert and awake. Avoid slumping and sagging. Just as too little movement is boring, too much movement can be a distraction.
  • When your posture is erect it puts you in control of the situation and the students realise this. It also encourages the students subconsciously, to become alert as well. You may notice the lazy ones sitting up and paying more attention to what is happening around them.
Eye contact
Make an effort to keep eyes lively, aware and interested. Move them around to take in everything. Fix them on specific students, but not for so long that they become uncomfortable! Avoid focusing on the worst or best students.
  • Knowing that the teacher demands eye contact keeps the students alert. It also gives the teacher a feedback on the impact of what he or she is saying.
    This is particularly important in large classes, where "distance" between the teacher and learner is greater, and individual attention is more difficult.
  • An effective teacher can control class behaviour to a great extent by the expression of his or her eyes.
  • Make sure that you make eye contact with each student, so that it seems you are talking to him or her individually.
Arms and hands are a very expressive visual aid. They can be used to describe shapes, actions, movements etc. but, remember to keep still while listening to a student. Otherwise the message sent to the student is that he is being longwinded or boring.
  • Habits such as fiddling with notes and books, playing with pens, key chains, or doodling with chalk on the black board can be both distracting and irritating for the student.
Facial expressions
There's nothing worse than a constant frown, which discourages students from asking questions, feeling free to discuss a problem or coming for help. A smile can work wonders.
  • It encourages the student to participate more actively and dispels the notion that the teacher is over critical.
  • Look interested while a student is speaking.
  • A smile, a grimace, a curl of the lips, raised eyebrows etc. at appropriate moments will send messages as needed.
  • Send positive vibes and cultivate a sympathetic and encouraging expression!
Have you ever heard yourself speak? Do you know what your voice sounds like to others? A low monotone or a high-pitched voice can be difficult to understand or grating to the ears. Does the sound of your voice send students to sleep or running for earplugs?
  • Be critical of yourself. Try taping your voice - listen to yourself. Where are you slipping up?
  • Make your own personal checklist:
    • Are you speaking at the right volume?
    • Does the end of your sentence fall so low that students sitting at the back cannot hear?
    • Are you hemming and hawing too much?
    • Are you speaking too fast?
Break the monotony and give students plenty of time to talk! It will keep them alert. Make small jokes, be friendly.

Call students by their names. It sounds warmer and friendlier and lessens the distance between the teacher and learner.
The teacher is the best teaching aid. Be sure that you are using yourself to the full effect.


1.     Harmer J. (1996); Teaching and learning Grammar Longman, UK
2.     Ur Penny (1993); Grammar Practice Activities –Cambridge, UK
3.     DOHA- (1996); Teach English, a training course for Teacher Longman UK
4.     Graham Workman (2006) Concept Questions and Time Lines; Chadburn Publishing, UK.
6.     Darn S. Aspects of Non-verbal Communication The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XI, No. 2
7.     Darn S, Ledbury R, White I. The Importance of Eye Contact in the Classroom The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. X, No. 8
8.     Feldman R. S.& Rime (Eds.) Fundamentals of Non-verbal Behavior CUP
9.     Givens D. B The Non-verbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs and Body Language Cues
10.   Field J. Skills and Strategies: Towards a new Methodology for Listening ELT Journal Vol. 52/2
11.   Nolasco R. & Arthur L. Conversation (Activity 37) OUP (Good source of cartoons for gestures)