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Laying Down the Law‏‎

American Policeman.Laying Down the Law is an activity which lets your class practice modal verbs used for permission.

Running the Activity

Firstly break your class into small groups of 3 or so. Then have each group brainstorm everything that is wrong with their town. Make them write down all the niggles and problems they can find, e.g.

  • There aren’t enough buses at night.
  • People smoke too much.
  • It’s very noisy in the main square after midnight.

As a class get a few students to read out one of their problems; you can discuss with the class ideas to make this better.

Then, again as a class, go over the modal verbs used for giving permission:

  • you must do this
  • you mustn’t do that
  • you are allowed to do this
  • you can’t do that

and so on. You can bring in some of the issues raised by the class and begin to create rules which would solve the problem.

  • The bus company must put on more night buses.
  • People cannot smoke in public places.
  • People mustn’t make any noise in the square after midnight.

Finally, have the groups re-form where they will come up with “laws” to solve the problems they came up with in the first exercise. When they have done this you can come back together as a class and discuss what has been suggested.

Useful Links

Modal Verbs‏‎ in English – an overview of modal verbs, including those used to express permission

Image © Great Beyond

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