Supporting ESL students, forming negatives and opposites
The students can recognise particular words and prefixes that signal negation and use negative forms in creating their own oral or written texts.
Activities to support the strategy
Activity 1: using prefixes to form opposites to create negation
Introduce the use of prefixes to create opposites of adjectives.
Give students a list of adjectives and discuss how to make opposites. Some use totally different words (e.g. large/small) while others can use a prefix to create the opposite (e.g. the opposite of happy can be either sad or unhappy) make sets of cards.
Teacher may say that the use of some prefixes can change the verb to the opposite meaning.
Use a range of prefixes to build understanding that there are various forms that perform the same function and they may change according to the first letter of the base word.
“un” is the most common prefix indicating negation but other common variants are:
Teacher explains that all these prefixes perform the same function - to create the negative attribute or action.
Teacher tip: display this table to help students become familiar with the use of different prefixes.
Activity 2: practising usage
Students can use quizzes on websites, play communicative sorting games to match prefixes to base words and complete sentences using the negative forms to practise usage. (Worksheets such as the one below should be with a partner orally.)
Activity 3: practising using base words in groups
Students research different negative prefixes and make posters of lists for display in the classroom. (See below)
- freelanguagestuff.com/negation This site has many useful images and ideas for activities.
- www.expandyourvocabulary.com/personality2/exercise4 (interactive flash matching activities using prefixes)
- www.englishlab.net/hp/wf_6_wb1_negative_prefixes (gap-fill exercise using prefixes)
Australia curriculum reference
ACELA1526: Understand how to use banks of known words, word origins, base words, suffixes and prefixes, morphemes, spelling patterns and generalisations to learn and spell new words, for example technical words and words adopted from other languages.
NSW syllabus reference
EN3-4A: Draws on appropriate strategies to accurately spell familiar and unfamiliar words when composing texts.
NSW literacy continuum reference
VOCC11M3: Vocabulary knowledge, Cluster 11, Marker 3: Applies knowledge of prefixes and suffixes to understand the meanings of new words and to create new words.