Punctuation matters

Effective punctuation is sometimes a problem even at the secondary education level, but instead of working on the typical text with no marks, why not do it the other way round and expose students to the very meaning of punctuation itself?

1. Elicit the most common types of punctuation marks, their uses and a few examples. Write them down.

2. Display the text with punctuation marks and no words (click below for a pdf copy): “How many paragraphs does the text have?”, “What type of text do you think it is?”, “Why?”, “How many sentences does the first paragraph have?”, “What type of sentences?”, “What type of information should we expect?”, “What type of questions are included in the first paragraph?”, etc. Continue with the rest of the paragraphs, “reading” the type of information actually conveyed by the punctuation marks themselves (enumeration, clarification, surprise, excitement, addition, interest, and so on.)

3. Brainstorm what the text might be about. (I was indeed surprised by the amount of plausible ideas the students came up with!)

4. Have students write their own texts in pairs, interview with you, and edit them.

5. Because students will be so familiar with the structure and possible meanings at this point, sharing the stories will be the most meaningful and an excellent listening activity in itself.

Punctuation matters.pdf


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