Advice and teaching suggestions of how to overcome the confusion between 'make' and 'do.'

Exercise 3

Material that learners produce themselves is likely to be more memorable for them than material they receive second-hand. Let them, working in pairs, choose from a selection of phrases and sentences with do/make – maybe from the dictionary, from their coursebook or from their own vocabulary lists, and make short dialogues, like these:

  1. “What are you doing tonight?” - “Making dinner.” - “You? That makes a change!”

  2. “I've made a million this year.” - “Well done ..... are you sure you aren't making it up?”

  3. “What do you do for a living?” - “I make mistakes.” - “How much do you make from that?” - “Well, I could do with making more, to be honest.”

  4. “Make me some coffee.” - “There isn't any. I haven't done the shopping yet. I could open a bottle of wine, though.” - “Well, that'll do.”

They then learn these by heart, and spend a couple of minutes practising them from memory in the next lesson, and the next, and the next, until they feel sure of them. Of course, as they begin to feel more confident with these mini-dialogues they can also start to improvise and extend them.

To learn English well, it's important both to study the 'inner circle' of extremely common vocabulary very thoroughly, and also to keep on learning more about the outer, ever-expanding circles of not-quite-so-common vocabulary. Here's a simple exercise that helps with both at the the same time.