An adjective is simply a word that describes or modifies a noun. Some of the most common ones include things like colors or words like big/small, hot/cold, hard/soft, etc.
You can find adjectives in every single ESL textbook, from beginner to advanced. Instead of focusing on them exclusively, most textbooks sprinkle them in throughout. There are some fun ESL adjective games that you can try out if you want to spice things up a little bit in your classes.
Here are some of my favourite ESL activities and games for adjectives.
#1 ESL Adjective Game: Flashcard Sentences
If you use a textbooks to teach kids, chances are that there are flashcards that go along with the book. Get your hands on these if possible because they are a very valuable teaching resource.
The way it works is that students have to take a look at the picture and then make a full sentence using that word. If correct, they get to keep the card. If incorrect, it goes to the bottom of the pile.
In this case, choose the cards with adjectives. Or, use the nouns but require that students include an adjective in the sentence too.
More details here: Using Flashcards in your ESL Classroom.
#2: Dialogue Substitution
There is often a reading to introduce a unit. In this case, you may find one that’s filled with adjectives and wish to make better use of it than just simply having students read it together with a partner or by themselves.
To do dialogue substitution, leave some of the words blank (adjectives or nouns in this case) and then have a word bank that students can use to fill in the blanks. It turns this kind of mindless activity into something far more useful because students also have to focus on meaning, and not just simply reading.
Check it out here: Dialogue Substitution.
#3: Picture Prompt Warmer
A nice way to introduce a topic or set of vocabulary is to find a related picture. In this case, you’d want to ensure that there are a lot of possible adjectives that students can see. Then, elicit some words that students know.
Instead of just the noun, encourage students to add an adjective. For example:
dog—>a brown dog
building—>a tall building
Find out more about this popular ESL adjective activity here: Picture Prompt Warm-Up.
#4 ESL Adjectives Game: Taboo
Chances are that you’ve played taboo at a party of some kind. Basically, you have to get your team to say a specific word but you can’t use other, related words. It’s a fun party game!
In this case, you’d want to use adjectives. It can take a bit of time to set this up so it’s usually only worth it if you can use it for multiple classes. But, the effort is worth it because it’s a fun way to spend an English class!
More information here: ESL Taboo.
ESL Adjective Game for Kids (Animals)
#5 ESL Adjective Games: Disappearing Sentence
If you have just a minute or two before the end of the class, consider using this filler that also makes quite a good review activity.
Write a sentence on the board related to what you’ve been teaching. For example:
“The large, brown cat and the tiny black dog like to take long walks by the river.”
Then, erase 2-3 words at a time and students still have to say the sentence. By the end, there will be no words left but students will have memorized the sentence.
Learn more here: Disappearing Sentence ESL Game.
#6: Incorporate Adjectives into your Daily Routine
It’s ideal to have a routine to start your class off, no matter what age you teach. This is especially important with little kids as they know what to expect and it just gets things going more smoothly.
You might want to start your day off with something like the following:
- Good morning, how are you?
- What day of the week is it?
- How’s the weather today?
- Look out the window. What do you see (include adjectives here)
- Review specific adjectives (big/tall/short, etc.)
More information about doing this in your classes here: Daily Routine for ESL Classes.
This is a classic ESL activity because it focuses on a wide variety of skills at the same time. The way it works is that you find a reading passage (or write your own). In this case, it’d be heavy on the adjectives.
Then, you read it out at a normal pace and students have to work in pairs to recreate what they just heard. Ideally, they’d understand about 50% of it. Read the story again and students add more information. Finally, they compare their version to yours at the end.
Find out the details here: Dictogloss ESL Activity.
Opposite Adjective Practice
#8 ESL Adjective Activity: Draw a Picture
This is one of my favourite activities for units directly related to adjectives to describe people. The way it works is that students sit back to back. One student has a picture (of a person) and has to describe to their partner what they see. This person has to draw it.
It’s a simple activity that students love! Check it out here:
#9: Flip-Chart Vocabulary Review Game
If you’re looking for a quick, but fun ESL review game that’s ideal for adjectives, then consider Flip-Chart. The way it works is that one students sits at the front of the class and you stand behind them with a flip-chart with words on it.
Their team has to give them hints about the word and the person sitting in the chair has to guess what it is. The team with the most points at the end of the allotted time is the winner.
Check it out here: Vocab Review Game.
#10: Got to Hand it to You
If you’re looking for an ideal way to review adjectives, then you’ll want to check out this activity. It’s kind of like ESL Jeopardy, but it’s far more student-centred. Find out more details here: Got to Hand it to You Review Game.
What about Online Practice for Adjectives?
If you’re looking for some sources for online practice for adjectives for your students, here are some of my favourite resources:
What about ESL Adjective Worksheets?
If you’re looking for something to do in class, then consider using some of these worksheets:
Have your Say about ESL Adjective Games
What are your thoughts about this list of activities, online practice and worksheets to help your students learn more about English adjectives? Do you have any favourite ESL adjective games? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.
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