A Fun Lesson Reviewing Adjectives

What do you look for in a friend? In a romantic partner?


After I used the Valentine’s Day activities in my groups I decided it would be a good opportunity to have a follow-up lesson to review adjectives and descriptions. Since we had talked about Valentine’s Day, the people we loved, etc it would be easy to link that lesson to one where we talked about what attracted us in people – and what put us off. It worked really well with my students, so I thought I’d share it here:-). I know this lesson might not work with certain age groups or cultural backgrounds. but you can use just part of it, or adapt to your students. Feel free – and share!


When the class started I distributed some papers (half of a blank paper), markers and tape, and told the students to tape the paper to their backs. Then I put on some music and asked them to go around writing one adjective they thought described that person. Wait, wait! Don’t start thinking the students don’t know each other that well, this won’t work. This activity works whether they’ve just met or if they’ve been studying together for a while – different outcomes, but everything works. After they have all written on each other’s papers, before I let them take the papers down to see what their friends wrote about them I ask them to say one adjective they think describe themselves. If the students start complaining it’s hard to choose just one, tell them yes, it’s hard (“So is life!” I usually say playfully to my students), but it doesn’t mean they’re just that, but that that characteristic is a predominant one in their personality.


Then I tell them to take the paper off their backs and look at the words the other students used to describe them. Then, into trios I have them share their views on if they see themselves the same way others saw them, possible reasons for any differences, etc… Then a quick general accountability with the whole group, asking 2 or 3 students at random about it. I usually spend some time with them reflecting upon the image we have of ourselves and the one we project, etc…


After that, I ask them to share what is one characteristic that attracts them in people from the opposite sex. Since the previous activity will have gotten mostly personality adjectives (and to be honest everyone always answer this with a personality trait first, maybe to show they’re not superficial ;-)) it’s very likely that’s what you’ll get as answers. Let them talk, ask them to elaborate a bit if you have an angle (Funny? Why is that? What is a funny person to you? etc). In my group, that’s what happened, to what (after everyone had spoken) I joked by saying “Ok, I’m very proud all my students are such “evolved” people who don’t care about appearances, but let’s be a bit superficial here, because usually it’s something physical that first attracts you to someone. What catches your attention – as far as physical characteristics go? I got a lot of “the smile”, “the eyes”, “the height”… We did a little brainstorm on famous people they considered attractive, and on those they knew weren’t examples of physical beauty but still had something that made them attractive. Then I say they’ve probably talked about this (what they find attractive in people) many times before, and that today we’d take a different turn. Finally I give them the worksheet and take it from there.


My class (a fluent group of people between 20 and 40 years old men and women) had a great time with this lesson, laughing, making comments and asking each other questions related to the topic. This was on our 4th class, and only two of them knew each other before the term started – they’re brothers. so, I hope you enjoy it too. If you use it (and feel free to change it in any way you need to adapt to your groups) I’d love to hear how it went. We all know how receiving feedback is important ;-) Here’s the worksheet:

The Laws of UNattractiveness

13 comments on “A Fun Lesson Reviewing Adjectives

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell, Henrick Oprea, Evelyn Izquierdo, bsuson3, David Dodgson and others. David Dodgson said: By @cecilialcoelho A Fun Lesson Reviewing Adjectives http://bit.ly/gQ0BSC #ELTchat […]

  2. You said “I know this lesson might not work with certain age groups or cultural backgrounds. ”
    Thanks to you and all teachers who put this sensetive point in their minds whenever ,they teach students with different cultural background.

    • Hi Saeed,

      I agree. It’s really important to keep in mind that an activity may work wonderfully with a certain group and be a total disaster with another because of different students. And cultural background is essential to keep in mind when preparing materials/a lesson, since some things that are normal and even welcomed in certain cultures are considered extremely offensive in others. Despite my working only with Brazilian students, I still have to take into consideration some cultural factors. Never a bad thing to be reminded of. :-)

  3. seburnt says:

    I like this idea of putting the paper on the backs and having students write an adjective describing them. For my EAP Writing context, I can see extending this into writing a full sentence on a student’s back, which that student later needs to incorporate as a direct or modified quote (this is on my brain at the moment, see my blog post today). There are a lot of potential uses of this type of blindfolded activity!

    • Liked the idea. And it never ceases to amaze me the creativity teachers have in addapting and “recycling” acitivities… I once used this activity when we had been studying jobs. They were young teens and I asked them to write the job they thought the person should have. Then as an accountability, I chose jobs at random from each paper and whoever had written it had to justify it. They produced a lot! :-)

  4. seburnt says:

    Hahaha at some of the turn-offs on your handout, Ceci. You should change one to “booger picker”. LOL

    • :-D I thought about that… I actually had many more, but edited them when I posted the activity here, I thought some people might be offended. But Brazilians (as you probably know very well) are not easily offended. ;-) Glad you liked it Tyson.

  5. […] Coelho shares a nice lesson reviewing adjectives, with a post-Valentine’s, romantic theme. Bookmark on Delicious Digg this post Recommend on Facebook Google Buzz-up this post Share via […]

  6. @baibbb says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for this wonderful activity! I tried it out in class today and it was a great success. Students wanted more! :)))

  7. What a really great and fun activity for the class. I think this is also a great way to build rapport between the students and (hopefully!) create a good atmosphere in the classroom.


  8. […] seen (and taught) countless lessons on describing people’s physical appearance. While reading Cecilia Lemos’s lesson about personalities it struck me that its far less common to see personality related descriptions being used. I really […]

  9. […] by putting it into use in the ‘real-world’. In fact, the lesson idea came from Cecilia Lemos’ Valentine’s Day lesson . I thought the concept of sticking post-its on people’s backs would really suit my students, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s