Fun with Adjectives: Activities and Games for ESL Students • Grade University

Teaching adjectives in ESL classroom

Teaching adjectives in ESL classroom

07.12.2023

129
1
minutes
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies

📝 Adjectives are one of the first parts of speech that beginners (both adults and kids) get acquainted with on their journey to English language proficiency. 

However, it doesn’t mean that they are the easiest to understand and start using actively due to their variety and even a certain degree of resemblance to other parts of speech. 

Anyway, a true ESL professional’s task is to make sure students can freely and correctly use adjectives in their speech. 

This article will help you to do so by proposing a list of activities and games which you can use for the successful adjectives’ presentation, drilling and revision.

Tips on teaching adjectives to ESL students step by step

We have to admit that educators often lack comprehensive guidelines on how to teach adjectives to ESL students. Below, you will see a step-by-step guide on how to present adjectives in your ESL classroom to adult learners and kids.

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Tip 1. Use eliciting to see what your students know

Students likely recognize certain terms that are adjectives even if they don't completely understand what an adjective is yet. 

Thus, the initial step in teaching them everything about adjectives is to draw on their prior knowledge and ask them to name a few adjectives. You can do it by pointing out some objects in the classroom and collecting learners’ observations and descriptions.

Chances are, adjectives will appear among some of the students’ ideas.

Relying on the previous learning background is crucial, as it helps students to link new material with something they already know. Also, it increases a positive learning attitude as they feel confident that they know something!

Tip 2. Provide a definition of an adjective

After eliciting what adjectives are, it’s time to give your students a proper definition. However, don’t give a long, complicated definition that might even require some linguistic background. These definitions do not really make sense for people without such education. That is why your task is to focus on showing what adjectives do in a sentence i.e., why they are important and what their function is. 

You can do it by writing a simple sentence on your blackboard. 

For example: I love coffee. After that, you may expand the sentence with the help of some adjectives. 

For instance: I love hot coffee or I love sweet coffee.

While expanding your sentence as much as possible, you may ask:

  • what do these additional words do?
  • What is their function? 
  • Why are they necessary for our sentences? Etc. 

With the help of this simple activity and teacher’s guidance, students basically create a definition on their own and clearly see the function of the adjective.

Tip 3. Teach how to find an adjective 

As you may know, adjectives might be not as easy to find as they initially seem. Beginners often confuse adjectives with adverbs or nouns. Moreover, they may simply not recognize the adjectives if they are not aware that they might change their form (comparative, superlative)

So, you should take all these cases into account depending on your students’ level, of course.

Tip 4. Wrap everything up with some practice

Last but not least, all the theory that you elicit and present should be practiced and drilled in a very careful way. So, make sure your lesson is not only about the rules and definitions but also about practical application of the things you have learnt. 

Below, we have collected a list of useful activities for adjectives and games that will help your students to remember the material better and learn how to use it properly. 

Warm-ups to revise and practice adjectives

Task 1. Brainstorm

Students brainstorm as many adjectives as they can and note them all.

The brainstorming activities are a great way to warm up and, what is more, they can be used for different topics and levels. 

All you need to do is to divide your students into groups, make a short lead-in to the topic you are going to talk about and ask to come up with as many adjectives as they can within a limited period of time.

When the time is up, you compare the groups’ results, exchange ideas and choose the best team. 

Task 2. Synonym-antonym race

Students try to find the corresponding word in the allotted time.

This is another nice game for giving your students a chance to get acquainted with adjectives. Again, this activity is great for any age and topic.

You just need to share a list of adjectives with the class and ask them to find appropriate synonyms or antonyms (it is up to you whether you want to stick with the synonyms or antonyms). The easier mode would be a matching game where students need to match the adjectives from different columns. The easier task to assign to the class would be recalling the synonyms or antonyms on their own using only their background knowledge. 

Looking for the most appropriate synonyms and antonyms in the dictionary would be another great variation of this task, which aims to develop students’ vocabulary as well as show how much the context matters for certain adjectives. 

Task 3. Chain builder

The teacher has to present the topic first. Then, the first student is nominated and supposed to name the first adjectives. The second student has to name the next adjective that starts with the last letter of the previous adjective. This game might be really endless. The more advanced your students are, the longer and more sophisticated this game gets. 

The best ESL activities & ESL adjectives games

Task 1. Pictionary

The student draws a picture of an adjective while other students need to guess what adjective it is. 

  • The teacher should provide students with the board and writing tools. Moreover, you should prepare a set of cards with some adjectives written on them. 
  • Then, you give one card per student. They should keep their words a secret till they get a chance to present their words in front of their class or group. 
  • When their turn comes, the student shouldn’t name the adjective but rather depict it with images and additional verbal descriptions. 
  • They continue until the classmates guess the adjective.

Task 2. Expansion

The students get the sentence and should try to expand it as much as possible. 

For this activity, you have to prepare a set of simple sentences. You assign one sentence per group, and each group takes some time to of how they can expand the given sentence by adding more and more adjectives till further expansion is impossible.

This task gives a clear representation of how important adjectives are for fiction and how dramatically the simple and boring sentence may change as soon as you start adding not only adjectives but also other parts of speech.

Task 3. Order game

The students are supposed to put the multiple adjectives into the correct order as fast as they can. 

For this task, you need to divide students into groups and present them sentences with a lot of adjectives. The order of the adjectives has to be wrong, so the groups can practice correcting this mistake as fast as they can. 

The group that completes the task correctly first wins.

Conclusion

As we can see, there are so many ways to have fun with adjectives and make your lessons even more memorable and engaging! 

However, practice makes perfect, both in students’ and teachers’ cases. If you are interested in learning more about some fun and useful activities, online English courses for teachers by Grade University are the best and the most obvious choice! 

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Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko

    Author

    Teacher of General English & IELTS

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