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A Refresher on the Passive Voice
by Tanju Deveci

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d) Inductive Method:

Nunan (1999) states that inductive method is based on inductive reasoning, which encourages learners to apply a general rule to other individual instances. In this method, learners discover rules through analysis of examples. The teacher who adopts this method provides examples which have the same concept and concept rule in common.

However, the concept rule is not explicitly stated. Students will attempt to find it through the examples near the end of the lesson. The teacher, through questioning of the students, elicits characteristics of the concept rule. Through these exercises, students should begin to understand the common concept found in all of the examples. Then he shows the students examples and non-examples of the same concept. Students must categorize the examples or non-examples by explaining why do or do not fit the concept rule they are discovering.

This method places emphasis on the things mentioned in deductive method. However, the students are more active in learning the concept rules.

In an advanced class, the teacher can show students passive sentences in different tenses. By asking students questions, teacher elicits the rule 'to be + past participle' for the Passive Voice. This time he gives them one future progressive and perfect progressive sentence in active voice asking them if these could be made into the Passive Voice. After trying, students learn that this is not possible. He does the same thing with intransitive, stative, prepositional and reflexive verbs. Finally, he gives out different examples containing example and non-examples and they categorize them by justifying their answers.

e) The Guided Discovery Strategy:

This strategy shares common grounds with inductive approach and aims to get the learners to explore a problem or a situation in context to formulate conclusions. In doing so, learners are actively involved in the learning process.

In this strategy, the meaning of P.V. and function can also be stressed by having students think about the meaning of the structure. With the formulation part, teacher can help them discover form and punctuation rules.

With an intermediate class, the following presentation could be done.
Role-play of a crime can be acted out in class putting stress on the action rather than the doer. Teacher elicits sentences passive sentences from students with some help if necessary. In this stage, he concentrates on the meaning and function. Then, he elicits the formula with the aim of focusing on form. Following this, he gives out a newspaper article about a natural disaster and asks the students to fill in the blanks using the Active or Passive voice.

f) Communicative Approach:

Harmer (1991) states that communicative approach involves students in activities which give them both the desire to communicate and a purpose which involves them in a varied use of language. It emphasizes both meaning and function. Students learn languages in a way that necessities communication between students. Students' native language is tolerated in certain stages, but it is not used as a teaching tool. Mistakes on form are tolerated to a certain degree.

With an advanced class for a practice purpose, the teacher can ask students to conduct a survey using English only. They need to gather information on demographics such as gender, nationality, age and occupation as well as information on their focused research topic such as reading habits or awareness of environmental issues. After collating the responses they have gathered, they can be asked to write up a report which outlines their main findings. They are asked to use the Passive Voice frequently to give their writing an impersonal feeling.


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Griffiths, C. & Parr, J. M. (2001). Language-learning strategies: Theory and perception. ELT J, 55 (3): 247-254.
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Nunan. D. (1999). Second language teaching and learning. Boston, Heinle and Heinle.
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Tanju Deveci studied Adult Education at Ankara University, Turkey. He did masters in English Language Teaching at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and received his PhD degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning from Ankara University. He taught EAP in Bilkent University, and Sabanci University in Turkey. Currently, he works as an Assistant Professor of Communication at the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi.
Among his research areas are speech acts, andragogical orientations of language learners, learning styles and lexical competence.
Tanju Deveci can be contacted at:

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