Nouns, Adjectives, Oh My: 3 Creative Ways to Reinforce Parts of Speech

Nouns, Adjectives, Oh My
3 Creative Ways to Reinforce Parts of Speech

Joyce B
by Joyce B 15,748 views

Creating opportunities to describe and discuss various parts of speech will reinforce just how important each part of speech really is; after all our language wouldn't be the same if just one of them was missing.

Use these 3 creative ways to reinforce parts of speech and your students will always know where they stand with the parts of the whole.


The parts of speech that every ESL student should learn are: nouns, verbs, helping verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, articles, and conjunctions. Obviously they will be introduced individually and practiced at varying levels. Giving the parts of speech names and definitions early on will only help you later as you progressively give more and more definitions of vocabulary. Once students have learned the parts of speech, all words defined should also be assigned with their part of speech.

Parts of Speech Reinforcement

  1. 1

    Jobs and Relationships

    Examining each part of speech individually and spending time defining its different jobs can be really helpful for students. Give students opportunities to see each different job in action. For example, nouns are people, places, animals and things. Their jobs can be as subjects or objects, and they can answer the questions who, what, and where. This is a fine definition, but provide exercises where students observe or interact with a particular job. For example, have students pick out all the subjects in a paragraph. Then have them make observations about what types of nouns are generally subjects. Allow students the opportunity to make discoveries as they go by having them connect the dots through usage or showing them patterns.

    To build upon each individual job, you can also examine the relationships between parts, and show how they work together. For example, adjectives provide more information about other parts of speech. They can relate to nouns, other adjectives and adverbs. Doing informal sentence diagraming can illustrate how the parts relate and what happens when they don't correctly interact. Showing these relationships can assist with both written and spoken language. For example, take helping verbs. Helping verbs is a particular part of speech that you may find yourself defining, and redefining over and over again. Take a moment and show students how helping verbs relate to other parts of speech. Give an explanation like: helping verbs do just that, give a little help to regular verbs, and most often they don't stand on their own for very long. Helping verbs are essential to create questions, and also to create higher level tenses. Sometimes a helping verb looks like a regular verb so it can be confusing (have, for example). Take the time to open up these conversations with students. It doesn't have to be an entire lesson, but it could lead into the explanation of a new tense or other grammar point.

  2. 2

    Order and Color-Code

    You can do some creative word ordering for a light exercise or take it further and make a game out of it. Scramble up sentences and questions from homework or your textbook. You can do this in a number of ways depending on the end result you are looking for. For an interactive, low-prep option, try this board activity. Divide the board into five to eight squares. Label each square with one of the parts of speech. Give the students your handout of scrambled sentences or provide them cut up sentences that they have to assemble. Once the students have worked together to construct their sentences, go through the answers, and discuss alternatives or problematic answers. Then use your grid on the board to have each student take a turn deconstructing a sentence into correct parts. Another way to utilize the board grid is to put the grid in order of how sentences or questions are generally built or a point you would like to emphasize. Then have students generate their own sentences or questions by following the order. Here's an example:

    Article Noun Verb Preposition Adverb
    The girl drove to the store carefully

    Students would then come to the board and write words under each category to generate an original sentence. You can easily switch up the categories to have students create different types of sentences. Applying color-coding along with this activity can add an interesting twist. This is especially great for visual learners and for creating outstanding memory retention. Having to write each part of speech in a different color also causes students to slow down and think about their choices. So it is pretty simple; each category is assigned a color. Nouns could be red, verbs are blue, adjectives are black, etc. If you want to take this to the next level, you could apply the same color to the the part of speech anytime you are working on deconstructing sentences. You could also have students color-code their homework using highlighters or if it's easier, assign each part of speech a shape. Nouns could be boxed, verbs are underlined and adjectives are circled. Whatever you think would work best for your students to help them remember each part of speech, and make associations that are helpful and not confusing or overwhelming.

  3. 3

    Vote for it

    This voting exercise is useful as a whole language experience. You can devise it in a way that it supplies spoken, written, listening and reading practice. However if you would like to focus on only one or two aspects of the language, it is easily adaptable. Bring in a story, random sentences from a text, or create your own examples. Read one sentence aloud at a time, either correctly or incorrectly. You can have students write out each sentence like with dictation, and then have them vote as a class whether they think the sentence is correct or not. If they claim it is incorrect, they must tell why and propose a correction. You can choose students to write out sentences on the board as you go through the exercise. You can also write a few of the proposed sentences on the board, have students read them aloud, and then vote on whether they are correct or not.

Remember that parts of speech have individual uses and relationships with one another that craft how we use our language.

Use these 3 creative ways to reinforce students' own relationships with all the parts of speech.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please help spread it by clicking one of those sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in more, you should follow our Facebook page where we share more about creative, non-boring ways to teach English.

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