Defying Description: 10 Fun Ways to Teach Adjectives
Being able to describe what you are talking about is key to communicating effectively.
Your ESL students may be learning the nouns and verbs to get across their basic wants and needs, but now they want to add in some details. Use the 10 activities below to help them spice up their conversations today!
Try These 10 Fun Ways to Teach Adjectives
A Strong Start
You will need to begin by presenting basic adjectives to your students. The adjectives you choose will depend on your class make-up. Younger students should learn basic words, but adults will need to go further. If your adult class is specific to a job, for example if you are teaching a group of workers from a bakery, you will want to tailor your list to them. As you present each word, you will need a large picture showing it accompanied by the word written clearly. Introduce the words slowly, reviewing as necessary.
Divide the class into two teams for this fun activity. Put a noun up on the board (show the actual object, if possible). Give each team one minute (or an appropriate amount of time for your class) to come up with as many adjectives as possible to describe that noun. At the end of the minute, have a reader from each team read their list aloud. They get one point for every adjective that the other team did not list. The first team to get ten points wins.
It’s in the Bag
You will need to have enough small items for each student in your class to have at least one each. Show all of these items to your students, reviewing their names. Depending on the class, you may want to put up all of the item names on the board. Next, put all of the items in a bag. Have your students take turns leaving the room and picking one item out of the bag. Let them come back in and use three adjectives to describe the item. The other students will take turns guessing what the item could be. The difficulty of this game can be varied greatly, such as by using items very similar or very different, or not putting up the names of the items on the board, and so on. This makes it an activity which can be used at almost any level.
Who Am I?
This activity gets students talking, which is always our goal. Review your list of adjectives, and introduce any that are commonly used to describe a person which you have not covered. For a more advanced class, you may want them to brainstorm these adjectives as a class, guiding them as necessary. Have the list up on the board. Next, tell students they need to pick five adjectives to describe themselves. As the teacher, you read the list of adjectives aloud, and allow the students to guess who it is. This enjoyable activity is a good one for sparking conversation.
Introduce (or review, depending on the level of your class) some pairs of adjectives that are opposites, such as “hot and cold,” “expensive and cheap” or “tall and short.” Have them written on cards. If you have a small class, you may just need one set of cards. For a larger class, have multiple sets and they can play in pairs or groups. Have students place all cards face down. Take turns turning over two cards each. If the students pick two cards that are opposites, they keep them. If not, the next player goes. Play until all cards are gone. Make sure all students are reading the cards as they turn them over.
This activity is fun, but requires your students to be able to write a sentence. Pass out two or three sentence strips to each student, and have them write a simple sentence on it. For example, “The cat is on the bed,” or “The boy is at the store.” Next, have them trade sentences with another student. Now have them separate each word by cutting them apart. Have that student add one or two adjectives to the sentence. For example, “The clever cat is under the enormous bed.” Have students share their new sentences. If you would like, they could pass their originals to another student and repeat the process. This activity is bound to create some smiles!
Have students bring in a picture (or get one from their phone) from home. Have them write a description of themselves, using as many adjectives as possible. When everyone is done, have them share what they have written. An extension of this would be to hang up all of the photos and then you, as the teacher, read the descriptions. Students would then guess who is being described.
ABC’s of Adjectives
Give students a page with the alphabet written on the left hand going down. You can have students write the alphabet themselves if you would like them to practice the alphabet in English. Tell students they need to try to think of an adjective that begins with every letter. Depending on the class, you may have to give them support with a word bank, just letting them fill the words in the right spots.
You can use the game of “I Spy” to teach adjectives. Model for the students by saying, “I spy something _________ and ____________ (insert two adjectives).” Have the students take turns guessing the object you are describing. The student who guesses correctly can have a turn to come up with two adjectives for the class. Make sure everyone gets a turn to guess, and that the more timid students do not get overshadowed by the louder ones. Everyone has to speak the language in order to make mistakes and learn from them.
Explain to the students that they will be drawing for this activity, so they may want to think of an object they feel comfortable sketching. The student should think of a noun, and make a list of at least five adjectives to describe it. Next, they should sketch out that noun on a piece of paper. Finally, take the adjectives they have written and write them around the shape of the object. This is a very visually appealing way for your students to show the adjectives they know.
Adjectives are important for English learners to know and be able to use.
It will improve the quality of their conversation. No matter what the age of your students, you will find some engaging activities in this article to get them using adjectives today!
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