Friday, March 25, 2016

How to teach causatives (have something done)

Years ago I prepared this lesson to teach causatives, which focuses on the use of the "have something done" structure. (Since this is the passive form of the "have somebody do something" structure, you might want to teach that before you teach this.) I started with this PPT to make sure students understand when we use causatives. While showing the pictures, you can ask some concept check questions to help them figure out the meaning:
Did she paint the walls herself last year?
Who will paint them this year?
The next step would be to focus on the structure. (You can encourage learners to come up with it.)

Subject + have (in any tense) + object/thing + past participle of verb
I + have (had/will have) + my walls + painted.

As in any passive form, we can introduce the "doer" with "by" as in I will have my walls painted by a painter.  However, the important thing to remember here is that the whole point in using the passive voice is to focus more on the action, and less on the person doing it. Therefore, point out that we often leave out the person doing the action when we use "have something done".

When learners are ready to do some practice, you can use this worksheet. Learners are expected to rewrite the given sentences using "have something done" in this exercise.

Finally, you can use this PPT to play a whole-class game to practice the target structure. It's an adaptation of the TV show Jeopardy!. In groups, learners choose a category and a point value and try to come up with a causative sentence (using only "have something done") according to the given clue. In some categories, learners may not be able to understand what is expected from them, so it might be a good idea to give examples for each category before you start the game.