Marc Marc

Can/can't lesson
Beginner level


In this lesson, students will learn about using can or can't to describe abilities such as swimming, playing the guitar or singing. First the class will go over the abilities vocabulary through matching exercises, before looking at can/can't in detail. Then, using can/can't, they will write true and false sentences about their own abilities, to test their understanding of how to use it.


Abc Whiteboard
Abc Vocabulary cards
Abc Grammar handout
Abc Checklist exercise

Main Aims

  • To present and practise can/can't in the context of abilities.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To review/practise verb-noun collocations.


Lead-in (6-8 minutes) • To set lesson context and engage students.

The teacher points out the ten pictures spread around the room and the vocabulary cards on the table. The teacher demonstrates the matching exercise by grabbing a random word card and sticking it next to the appropriate picture. He then asks several students to do the same and checks whether the rest of the class understands. Before handing out the cards, ICQ: "Are you going to sit at your table or walk around? Walk around. Are you going to match pictures on your own or as a group? As a group." After they match all the cards, the teacher briefly goes over the answers with the whole class and practises the pronunciation of the vocabulary. The teacher writes the vocabulary on the right side of the board so it can be left there for reference during later exercises

Exposure (5-7 minutes) • To provide further context.

After going over the answers, the teacher mimes one or two of the abilities they just discussed, asking the class what he's doing (e.g., while miming singing, he asks: Am I playing football? No!) He then demonstrates the exercise with one group, before dividing the rest of the class in groups, and tells them to take turns miming one of the activities while the others have to guess. The teacher monitors.

Highlighting (6-8 minutes) • To draw students' attention to the target language and clarify the meaning, form and pronunciation.

The teacher asks which of the things from the previous exercise students are good at. He then asks if there are any things on the list that the students are not good at, in an attempt to elicit can/can't.(e.g. "Are you a good swimmer/ good at swimming? are you an okay swimmer? What's another way to say that? Are you a bad swimmer? What's another way to say that?") The whiteboard can also be used for students to fill in the blanks (e.g. "Fish ... swim. Fish ... fly." or "The class ... speak Turkish. The teacher ... speak Turkish") in order to elicit it from the class (but can be given if they don't know it). This is followed by a few more examples, with different students being asked to answer. The students are then given the grammar handout (for visual reference) and the teacher briefly goes over the answer with the whole class.

Controlled Practice (10-12 minutes) • To concept check and prepare students for more meaningful practice

Students will write two true and two false sentences about themselves or their family, using can/can't. The teacher first demonstrates this exercise, writing several examples on the board for visual reference and having the students guess by using the target language (examples: "I can ride a bike. I can drive. I can't play basketball. I can't play the guitar.") He emphasizes that they have to use can or can't in their sentences and that they can use the activities/abilities from the first exercise. (ICQ: How many false sentences? Two. How many true sentences? Two. Are you going to talk or write? Write.) After everyone has written four sentences, the teacher gives each half of the class a number (1 or 2) and tells students to stand up and find someone with the other number to guess their sentences, while monitoring. Students can switch pairs if there is enough time.

Semi-Controlled Practice (10-12 minutes) • To concept check further and provide students with meaningful practice

The teacher tells the class that they are going to receive two checklists about the same boy and girl, on which are written the things they can or can't do (such as play the piano, play football). Before passing around the handouts, the teacher explains that there are two different lists, A and B, and that there is different missing information in both. Students need to ask their partner questions (using CAN) to fill in the gaps on their list (using check/tick or cross the box. Demonstrate on the board). The first few examples are demonstrated, first by just the teacher and then with another student, and then one student asking another, to ensure the class understands the exercise and knows how to ask questions (ICQ: If Daniel can't speak German, should you check/tick or cross this box? Cross). The class is then divided in pairs and given the handouts, while the teacher monitors (ICQ: Are you going to show your partner your handout? No! (miming keeping close)). Afterwards the teacher goes over the correct answers, encouraging students to use the target language, and drilling pronunciation where necessary.

Extra exercises. (6-8 minutes) • To provide students with free practice of the target language.

If there is enough time, students can make a list of things they can do (can play the guitar, can cook, etc.), and then ask each other about the things they have written in their lists. If there isn't enough time, the teacher can practise pronunciation and review vocabulary with the whole class instead.

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