9 Ways to Teach Adjectives to ESL Students

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Learning adjectives during ESL courses or lessons enriches speech, makes it sound more natural, and brings it closer to the “native” level for students. Therefore, teaching adjectives to ESL learners should be one of your most important goals as a teacher.

In this article, we are going to share some ESL adjective activities that will make your adjective lesson plans more engaging and help with your overall ESL curriculum planning. We already covered some broader topics, like how to teach English to kidssubstitute teacher tips, and more. 

Now it’s time to learn some ESL adjective activities, so you can bring them into your classroom or online setting for lessons.

These are some of the best adjective activities for ESL students:

Describe a noun

esl adjective activities

Write down several nouns on the board and ask your students to describe those nouns by using as many adjectives as they can. For example, an apple can be described as round, sweet, sour, tasty, crispy, and so on.

The learners can also work in teams and compete with each other. When the students are ready with the adjectives, add more adjectives of your own that the learners do not know yet and explain the meaning of your adjectives.

Describe a person

Prepare a collage with photos of people that you can cut out from fashion magazines, or news articles, or just images that you find in the internet. For example, you can look for photos on free stock websites by using specific adjectives as keywords.

In the classroom, hang the collage on the board and ask the students to describe the people on pics by using as many adjectives as they can. You can also prepare your own adjectives, e.g. those that you were using to find pics in Google or on stock websites. Ask the students to guess the meaning of those adjectives, because in most cases these words will be new for them. Encourage learners to match the adjectives with the corresponding human pics.

Describe an object

This ESL game is especially engaging. Choose one object in the classroom and ask the students to describe it with as many adjectives as they can. Another variant: each student picks up an object – not necessarily the one in the classroom – and describes it to the class. During the description, the student should be using various adjectives while the class will be trying to guess the object.

Guess the person

For this adjective activity, you should give your students a list of adjectives that are used to describe people. Explain the meaning of those that they do not know yet. Then give them some time to write down the adjectives with which they can describe themselves and their own personality traits. Finally, gather their writings and read each set of adjectives aloud, so the students can guess the person.

Synonyms and antonyms

Write down a set of adjectives on the board and ask the students to find synonyms and antonyms for those adjectives, e.g. “hot – warm, hot – cold”, etc. Depending on the classroom size, the learners can work in pairs, in groups, or individually. The student or group who finds the greatest number of synonyms and antonyms is a winner.

Smaller adjectives out of a big word

Write down a very long word and ask the students to form shorter words by using the letters of which the long word consists. All of these shorter words should be only ESL adjectives. The winner is the one who makes up the largest number of unique adjectives, e.g. those that the other students did not come up with.

Alphabetic adjectives

During this ESL adjective game, you will need to ask the students to come up with adjectives starting with each letter of the alphabet. For example, A – arrogant, B – bright, C – cold, and so on. If they cannot come up with adjectives starting with difficult letters, such as Y, you can help them and thus enrich their vocabulary with new useful words.

Check this article about alphabet activities for your ESL students.

Colorful comparatives

Each adjective has a comparative and a superlative degree. To teach those degrees in a fun and engaging way, you can use the colored pencils, pens, paint etc. with different shades and intensity. You can also use colored post-it notes.

When explaining the degrees, mark the comparative with some color, e.g. light pink, and mark the superlative with a more intensive shade of pink, such as magenta. Sometimes color coding is a great way to remember things, especially for younger students.

Description thermometer for extreme adjectives

The description thermometer is one of adjectives activities that is a great for way for students understand the so called extreme adjectives. Here’s how it works: the students arrange adjectives on a sketch of a thermometer in the order of ascending intensity.

For example, cold, cool, and freezing will be rearranged from bottom to top as cool, cold, and freezing. This activity is suitable not only for temperature-related but also for other adjectives. For example, big, huge, gigantic, enormous, and so on.

What Games Help You Teach?

This blog has covered everything from role playing activities and ESL ice breakers to preposition and pronoun games. What games and activities do you use in your classroom or during tutoring sessions?


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10 COMMENTS

  1. I liked the suggestion about cutting out of magaines and having kids describe because that is doable in the 1 on 1 classroom

  2. Great ideas for teaching adjectives. I like with my older students we would take a simple (4 line) nursery rhyme and then go back and embellish it with adjectives. Great fun for the students and they could see how a simple 4 line nursery rhyme could turn into a whole paragraph.

  3. These are great ideas! My challenge is how to teach possessive adjectives (my, your, his, her, its, our, their.) Any tips?:)

  4. I like to use the game ” hangmsn” with one rregulsr student who loves to try to figure out the word relating to the subject in the lesson

  5. On the last slide and last star we play the adjectives for a star. I have flash cards of different items from clothing and outwear to fruits and vegetables. They write down adjectives that describe the items. They are shown two items, in the beginning if they identify 6 it equals a star as they get more skilled, they play against the teacher. They play for a star and I play for an apple. Students love it.

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