6 Common ESL Grammar Errors Conquered by Project Based Learning

Many activities help ESL students learn English, but collaboration helps bridge conversational learning with academic content. Project Based Learning (PBL) enables collaboration by requiring students to engage in partner and group structures that promote total participation and enable opportunities for differentiated instruction.

In PBL lessons and units, ESL students move more quickly toward academic language acquisition because the conversation moves from the school grounds into the classroom with instruction that promotes the inquiry process

  • questioning and investigating,
  • comparing and interpreting information,
  • and reporting findings

Students work in partners and groups. How these pairings and groupings are structured depends on the number of ESL students in a classroom and their language levels. Keep the following list of grammar problems in mind when structuring your PBL lessons.

6 Common ESL Grammar Errors

Some native English students struggle with these grammar concepts, but all ESL students struggle with them. It takes a long time in repetition and practice to overcome these errors. This is why collaboration is so important. The understanding of these grammar concepts may be learned, but usage and practice is limited unless English is also spoken at home.

The following list of six errors also includes examples taken from “Editing Line-by-Line“, a chapter written by Cynthia Linville, CSUS, for the book ESL Writers: A Guide for Writing Center Tutors.

Use this list as a reference to plan your own PBL lessons and/or units.

1. Subject-verb Agreement – subject doesn’t agree with verb in person or in number

  • He walk every day.
  • Ever teenager knows how to choose clothes that flatters her figure.

2. Verb-tense – incorrect time marker used

  • I was working on my paper since 6:00 a.m.
  • Even though this is my first day on the job, I have already found there were some different people here.

3. Verb-form – verbs incorrectly formed

  • I will driven to the airport next week.
  • I was cook dinner last night when you called.

4. Singular and plural errors – confusion about nouns that are countable and ones that aren’t.

  • I have turned in all my homework this week.
  • I set up six more desk for the afternoon.

5. Word-form – wrong part of speech chosen

  • I’m happy to live in a democracy country.
  • I feel very confusing this morning.

6. Sentence structure errors – Many things—verb left out; extra word added; word order incomplete; clauses that don’t belong together are punctuated as one sentence

  • As a result of lack of moral values being taught by parents and the reemphasis by school many children have little respect for authority.


Check out the Critical Thinking Unit from GoTeachGo

Add grammar practice to the lessons in this unit. These lessons provide a perfect addition to the student reflection journal sessions. Students have options to share in pairs, within groups and for the whole class.

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Recommended Reading
The Attitudes of Secondary Students Towards Learning English through Project Based Learning


Visit Kate’s TeachersPayTeachers site for lots of great PBL units.

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author: Sheri Rose, Precision Copy Editng.  srose@precisioncopyeditingllc.com.
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