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August 2018 - Year 20 - Issue 4

ISSN 1755-9715

Relative Clauses: Crossing the Portal

Sinan Çakmak is a graduate the Faculty of Education, the Department Foreign Language Teaching in Bogazici University, Turkey and a teacher at a private school. He had been tutoring prep. school students at Bogazici University and preparing self-study material under the supervision of Feride Hekimgil for nearly a year. The material produced is published on the blog set up for this purpose: . Email:



Sticking to a lesson plan throughout a whole lesson has been a questionable action in an EFL or ESL classroom. This controversial issue causes both some advantages and some disadvantages to emerge. Thus, having a lesson plan in your hands and being capable of modifying it according to the direction the class shifts towards from time to time, would be one of the most reasonable ways to have a clear and successful lesson.  

The point I had in my mind while preparing this lesson plan was giving students a chance to practice the target structure through authentic material like online newspaper articles or videos as I thought it would be the best option for and EFL setting as such students are not living in an environment where they find enough English input to immerse themselves into. In this way, they are able to tear apart the curtain lying between their limited world and The Wonderland in terms of English language. Thus, you can consider this option as a portal connecting these two worlds.  

Target Structure: Relative Clauses 
Theme: Anti-aging 
Level: Intermediate 


Warm-up session (5-10 mins.)

Before starting the main activity, the teacher makes the students watch the video which is about anti-aging and tries to elicit ideas from students about anti-aging by asking questions such as “Do you think we will live for 150 years in the future?” or “Would you like to live longer and what would you do if you could live than 150 years, what would this longer life span contribute to your life?” 

If the T does not trust himself to get students to participate actively in the oral discussion, he may try to use a technological tool, which I find very useful, called "padlet":  


Main activity (30 mins.)

The T hands out the text and the questions and waits for the students to go through the text quickly to ask any unknown word in the text. Then, he asks students to detect the most obvious structure throughout the text. In the next step, students read the text carefully and answer the questions. Once they are done, they gather round in groups of two or three and crosscheck their answers.  




  1. Find relative clauses defining a subject, an object and a noun phrase of the main clause in either reduced or full forms throughout the whole text and write the full form of the reduced relative clauses using appropriate relative pronouns. 
  1. Choose the correct option to fill in the blanks. 

The world depicted in movies like Logan`s Run and Soylent Green is mainly a result of …

  • long life spans.
  • high birth rates. 
  • strict population control measures.
  • new treatment techniques and medicines. 

Metformin is a medicine ……….. not only ……………….. but also …………….. . 

  • that / protects against type 2 diabetes / reverses the effects of aging 
  • who / protects against type 2 diabetes / helps people live longer. 
  • which / helps people live longer / protects against type 2 diabetes. 
  • which / reverses the effects of aging / protects against type 1 diabetes. 
  1. Read the following sentences:

 “This fascination with blood`s potentially life-giving properties was first pursued by the German doctor Andreas Libavius in 1615, where he considered connecting the arteries of an older man to that of a young man.”

“Films such as Logan`s Run and Soylent Green, have painted grim visions of an overpopulated future, where drastic measures are taken to control these overcrowded worlds and their scarce resources.”

What do they modify? 

  1. Briefly, describe the experiment conducted by Libavius, its result and the problem that process might bring about by using relative clauses. 
  2. Removing senescent cells which/who/whose ……………………. and……………….. might not only delay aging but also reverse it. 
  3. What are the two concerns regarding the extension of the life-span? 
  4. Find the anecdote which reveals the meaning of ‘a rolling-stone does not gather moss’ in the text. 
  5. “The period in which women give birth is still our 20s and 30s” With what can we replace ‘in which’ without changing the meaning? 
  6. What is/are the problem(s) regarding the medical experiments conducted to increase life-span and to live healthier lives? 
  • The scarcity of blood donors.
  • Lack of professional staff working in the area.
  • There are not enough volunteers for the experiment. 
  • There is a risk of the emergence of a black market.
  • There are not many sponsors funding the experiments. 


Answer key 

  1. Possible answers 


  1. Mice that have their senescent cells … removed… . 
  1. Aubrey De Grey, a professor at SENS Foundations, believes the human lifespan … .

Full form: Aubrey De Grey, who is a professor at SENS Foundations, … .



  1. If you target so-called bad senescent cells, which are unwanted as they become old ... 




  1. One possible issue around people living longer is that it would add to the effects of over-population, an increasing concern in the 21st century

Full form: … overpopulation, which is an increasing concern… 

  1.       2nd and 3rd 
  2.       1615, an over-populated future 
  3.       Libavius conducted an experiment on mice which was about blood transfusion and found that old mice who were infused with blood from younger mice became healthier with young blood. However, there are some risks which are associated with lung injury and infections. 
  4.       which are old and irreparably damaged 
  5.       An increasing concern of over-population and the danger of a two-tier society being established. 
  6.       “One theory is that just as we keep our bodies active our bodies tend to decline slower, so there is an argument that as we keep our mental activities higher maybe we ward off dementia.” 
  7.       Where 
  8.       1st and 4th 


Closing activity (10 mins) 

Students describe some specific words by using relative clauses in a chain writing activity in groups. For example, students will define ‘blood transfusion’ using as many relative clauses as they can. In the end, the group who wrote the longest sentence will be the winner. 



Students are expected to read the article below and fill in the blanks with appropriate relative clauses. 

Jeanne Calment was a French lady who/which …………. . She was born a year before Alexander Grahambell who/whose ………………. and 14 years before Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who/whose …………….. . She had lived in Arles who/which/where ………….. . She was married to Fernand Nicolas Calment who/which …………. . Because she lived for 122 years, she managed to enter the Guinness Book of World Records which/who …………  . She died at a nursing home which/who …………  Arles, in 1997. 


Sample Answer Key

Jeanne Calment was a French lady who/which was the world`s eldest woman . She was born a year before Alexander Grahambell who/whose invented telephone and 14 years before Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who/whose built the Eiffel tower . She had lived in Arles who/which/where was a southern French city . She was married to Fernand Nicolas Calment who/which had a store in Arles . Because she lived for 122 years, she managed to enter the Guinness Book of World Records which/who holds the records of numerous activities  . She died at a nursing home which/who was located in  Arles, in 1997. 


Please check the Methodology and Language for Secondary course at Pilgrims website.

Please check the Teaching Advanced Students course at Pilgrims website.

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    Sinan Çakmak, Turkey

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