Aim: Students will be able to use adjectives to describe objects, focusing on using adjectives to clarify or specify meaning.
Time: 50-60 minutes
1. Open with the question, "Have you ever forgotten a word just as you were about to say it? Other than remembering it, how did you finish expressing your thought?"
2. Students relate the fact that we tend to describe it by relationships or Adjectives.
3. Elicit students to define an adjective. Note that phrases can be used as Adjectives. Emphasize that these words help explain what something is without actually stating what it is.
4. Tell the class they will be performing an activity based on this idea. The teacher will give at least two examples to begin with. If they cannot remember a word in English, this will help their ability to communicate around that. Use the following two examples or create your own (Item 5 is an object described only by Adjectives, Item 6 is a series of Adjectives meant to identify an object).
5. Object: Snowball. Adjectives: Round, Small, Frozen, White (hopefully), Soft, Throwable, Hand-Made, Tasteless, Odorless
6. Object: Desk. Adjectives: Flat, Four-Legged, Wooden/Metal/Plastic (use a desk in the room as an example), Brown, Large, Soundless or Creaky (again, use a desk in the room)
7. It will be very likely that other objects can fall into this category (such as a chair for Item 5). Discuss what this means about Adjectives in the English language. Specifically, focus on the fact that nouns give a great idea what something is, but there is a lot of variation in what a "desk" could be. A lot of adjectives put together can still apply to more than one object. To exemplify this fact, ask the class to list as many adjectives of a desk or chair as they can think of, collectively, and see if those adjectives still apply to both objects.
8. Finish the Present portion by discussing why the language has both parts of speech and why using both will make communication clearer.
1. You will require note-cards with several words written on them (4-6). One note-card will be used per group. The note-cards should have the names of common objects on them. If the ESL class is made of students who speak a common language other than English, and of a beginner level, the cards should have the names in the students' common language. You might try: Soccer Ball, Dog, Tree, Pencil, Lamp, House, Baseball, Phone, Book.
2. Split students into groups of 2-4. Give each group a note-card.
3. Ask the students to take turns thinking of an object, or using an example from the card, then describing that object to the group using only adjectives. Each student should keep track of the objects he or she used and how many adjectives it took before someone guessed the correct object.
4. This activity should be limited to 15-20 minutes, but classes requiring larger groups or those that love to participate can be given up to 30. At the end of the activity, ask each group to determine what the most difficult or most interesting object to guess was, then list at least 6 adjectives for the object
1. The test to see how well students can use adjectives comes in two parts. The first part is a competition between groups (Items 2-3b), and the second is a worksheet created by the students (Items 4-8).
2. Each group was asked at the end of Practice to pick one object they tried to guess. Each group will take a turn going around the class using adjectives to describe their mystery object. It is preferable at this point to ask the group members to write their adjectives on the board.
3a. At this point, if time is short, limit each group to the 6 adjectives asked for in Practice. Then, the other groups should work amongst themselves to guess the object, writing down their guesses in the order of groups. After all of the groups have gone, they will go around the room in the same order revealing their mystery objects. This can be made into a competition by offering extra credit or prizes to the group(s) that guess the most correctly.
3b. If time is not a concern, as each group is required to give adjectives for its mystery object, members will write adjectives on the board one word at a time. The other groups will have the opportunity to guess the object aloud. To preserve classroom order, each group should only get one guess per object. Adjectives should continue to be listed until a correct guess is made. Alternatively, an upper limit may be given in case the object is not commonly known (a good upper limit here is 15, though many groups have struggled in the past to go past 11 or 12, ESL or English as Primary Language).
4. Students will be given Part 2 of Produce as either homework or an end of class activity. This is the last exercise meant to cement the lesson, both through writing and another day of practice.
5. Each individual will spend the rest of the class session or that night's homework time thinking of one object and several adjectives for it (between 6 and 8, but the class must receive a set number). If the student comes to the required number of adjectives, but he or she feels like the adjectives can describe more than one object, all possible objects should be written down (like the desk/chair option above, "table" may also work).
6. The responses will be collected as homework, either at the end of class or at the beginning of the next day.
7. The teacher will compile all responses and create a worksheet consisting of only the adjectives for each response.
8. The students will receive copies of the worksheet as homework. Their assignment will be to determine what the adjectives describe. If this is a beginner level class, the objects to choose from could be attached to the worksheet as a word bank.
If Item 5 in the production stage is assigned as homework, this means there will be a class session between turning in the work and getting the worksheet (unless the teacher is a really fast at typing and copying). If this is the case, the extra class session should be used covering Adjectives in a different approach. Rather than thinking of Adjectives and Nouns as different ideas, students could discuss readings that are full of adjectives and readings lacking much description. Passages should be primarily narrative prose, as Adjectives promote a sense of realism and clarity. Try to find examples that overuse modifiers as much as ones that lack them, in order to give a good feel for technique.
Good examples of narratives lacking adjectives are news writings. The basic, important information is there, but news articles rarely aim for a reader to be 100% immersed in the writing. Narratives with more than enough adjectives (and other modifiers) tend to be suspense, horror, and mystery works. Finding the "right" mix is difficult and subjective, but students can take time discussing the extremes, trying to find a comfortable middle.