The passive voice is often used in writing, and sometimes also in speaking. But how can you give your students an opportunity to practice using it?
Changing their own work
I like to start my writing or grammar lessons by having students write somewhat freely, and then later edit their writing using the lessons taught in the class. I feel this helps them to better internalize the meaning of the material.
In teaching passive voice, I tell my students to write a set number of simple sentences (they already learned the four sentence types) about a picture. It can probably be any picture, but I use these ones:
Sometimes it is better to get a picture with more action, and featuring people’s names, like this:
At the end of the lesson, with ten minutes or so remaining, I will tell to the students to return to their notebooks and look at the sentences they wrote. I will give them two minutes to identify whether each sentence is active or passive, and invariably they will be 90% active voice.
I then instruct the students to see whether they can convert the active sentences to passive voice – reminding them that not all sentences can be changed. I will have them peer check to finish the lesson.
It helps to give them examples to work with. As such, I’d say for the first picture:
Superman is visiting the boy in hospital. (active)
The boy in hospital is being visited by superman. (passive)
For the second picture:
The man is taking photos of the couple. (active)
The couple are being photographed by the man. (passive)
Make “who” questions
To practice using passive voice in speech and to create sentences more spontaneously, I encourage students to write questions that will require an answer in the passive voice. I give them the following, presented on an overhead projector:
Use the verbs above to make “who” questions like the examples below. Ask them to your partner, and see if they can answer correctly.
A: Who was Pulp Fiction directed by?
B: Pulp Fiction was directed by Quentin Tarantino.
A: Who was the Mona Lisa painted by?
B: The Mona Lisa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci.