My beginner student will soon be studying comparative forms of adjectives and adverbs. I designed an activity that will review forms and test her ability to use the forms in context. The Easier Said Than Done_handout has been modified to meet the needs of a group class rather than a private lesson. I hope it works for those of you teaching lower levels. Enjoy!
Posted tagged ‘comparatives’
The listings in a TV guide provide a wealth of material for the ESL classroom. The authentic source places common grammar structures and high frequency vocabulary in an entertaining context. Here are just a few ideas for putting this material to use to facilitate your instruction.
- Adjective clauses.
Plot summaries of films and TV show premises often contain adjective clauses as well as reduced adjective clauses and appositives. You can present one listing at a time and challenge students to identify the adjective clause(s) used.
Example from The Week. September 25, 2009, p.34.
Movies on TV
Dances with Wolves
Seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, went to Kevin Costner’s epic Western about a cavalry officer who joins the Sioux. (1990)
- Comparatives, superlatives, and equatives.
Films are usually listed with critics’ ratings. Presenting two or three movie listings would allow students to answer questions such as: Which has the higher/ highest rating? Which movie is rated as high as ____? Looking at film dates, students can answer: Which films are the most recent? Which film is the oldest? To test their comprehension of the plot summary, you can ask: Which movie is least/ most appropriate for children? Which movie seems the most interesting to you?
- Idiomatic, general, and academic vocabulary.
A single TV listing can be turned into a vocabulary exercise with the help of a dictionary. Simply copy the listing and prepare questions that require students to find synonymous words/ phrases for the definitions you provide. [Find the word or phrase that means ___.]
Example from The Week. September 25, 2009, p.34.
Show of the Week
…[T]his five-night documentary series follows young Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker from public meetings to schools to midnight basketball games as he struggles with the city’s high rates of gang-related crime and violence. It also introduces us to Newark’s police director and community leaders, including a former gang member who has turned her life around – but who in Episode 1 must turn herself in to authorities on a 4-year-old parole violation.
- Find two phrasal verbs. Which one means to change in an important way, especially for the better? [turn around] Which one means to give someone or something to the police? [turn in]
- Find the word that refers to the police. [authorities]
- Find the word that means fight (against). [struggle (with)]
- Find the word that means was before, but no longer is. [former]
- What is the adjective we use to describe something that is four years old? [four-year-old]
- What is the adjective we use to describe something that lasts for five nights? [five-night]
- Conversation starters.
The premise of a TV show itself can be a conversation theme. Students don’t necessarily have to have seen the show to form an opinion about it. For example, the merits and dangers of reality shows and TV competitions (e.g., Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser, etc.) are an appropriate topic for upper level students. Also, footage from actual shows can stimulate great discussion. American TV episodes are available online. One source is TV Guide.com. Full episodes are downloadable for a small fee, but short clips (approx. 2 min.) are free. From sitcoms to dramas, the choices abound. Prepare a few stimulating questions based on one clip, and you’ll have 15-20 minutes of discussion. Couple it with a focus on language used (grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation), and you’ll have a complete lesson.
- Teach comparatives before superlatives. This is a no-brainer: the order is logical.
- Consider teaching the use of more and less before the use of the suffix -er. Let students master sentence structure before dealing with spelling rules. (X is more [adjective] than Y). Work first with common adjectives, such as expensive, beautiful, difficult, and dangerous. Keep examples simple and familiar. For example, show two apartments for rent in your city and list the monthly rent for students to compare. Which is more expensive? Let them discuss which one is more beautiful.
- Consider teaching the best and the worst before the use of the most and the least or the suffix -est. Continue working with examples that everyone is familiar with, such as four test scores (60%, 75%, 85%, 100%) or three Olympic medals (bronze > silver > gold).
- Consider teaching use of the most and the least before the suffix -est. Again, it’s a matter of focusing first on meaning (comparing three or more items), then sentence structure (X is the most/ least [adjective] of all), and finally spelling rules for adding the suffix -est.
- When you present spelling rues, remember to note pronunciation as well (i.e., when the suffix adds a syllable as in friendliest).
- Allow adequate time to work with adverbs. Sometimes grammar sources focus more on adjectives and less on adverbs when they present and practice comparatives and superlatives.
- Don’t assume comparatives and superlatives are intermediate grammar topics only. Advanced ELLs might benefit from a review and expansion. Do they know which words don’t form comparatives or superlatives? (For example, we can’t say the most final and it’s not common to hear the least impossible.) Do they know how to use intensifiers like all the more and a whole lot more? Consider a lesson on pre- and postmodifiers that intensify the degree of adjectives and adverbs.
- Make practice meaningful and fun (as you would with any grammar topic). For example, bring in some products from the grocery store (crackers, cookies, lotions, etc.) Let students work in pairs or small groups to advertise one brand. They can sample products and say why their brand is better than the competitor’s or why it’s the best on the market.
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Objective: To describe lesser-known sports and identify their appeal to people
Skills targeted: Reading for details, using graphic organizers, making conclusions, writing with comparatives and equatives
STEP 1 – Students receive a list of 4-6 lesser-known sports. For each sport, provide a recommended link that offers background information. Suggestions:
Students should work in pairs or small groups of 3 at computer stations. (Alternative: Use printouts of web pages.) They need to explain in 3-5 sentences how each sport is played. This information should be recorded. You can offer a chart to organize their findings:
How is the sport played?
What’s the object of the game?
Words to describe
this sport/ game:
STEP 2 – Students must then draw conclusions about whom each sport appeals to. They may also include their personal opinions of each sport. Again, notes should be taken. Encourage use of comparatives and equatives. Examples: Shuffleboard isn’t as exciting as zorbing, but shuffleboard is more competitive. Bocce is probably as physically demanding as shuffleboard. Orienteering is good for active people who like the outdoors. We think zorbing is more fun than any of the other sports.
STEP 3 – Have each pair or small group present information on one sport. The class may comment after each group finishes their brief presentation.
Other lesser-known sports: bog snorkeling, curling, street luge racing, bossaball.