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Developing students' vocabulary range for describing people by Gerard Eley

For a Word version


Preliminary information

Time: 1 hour

Level: Intermediate

Main Aims:
To develop stds vocabulary range for describing people.
To present and give controlled practice of questions using 'like'

Subsidiary Aims:
To give listening practice for general and specific information.
To give practice in using a bilingual dictionary.
To start to introduce how words work together and possible connotations so help develop stds ability to expand their own vocabulary.
To give freer practice in asking yes/no questions

Timetable fit
The stds have been doing a lot of work with different tenses and are progressing well. The stds need to develop their vocabulary range. We have worked on various different areas of vocab but the stds are lacking in sophistication when describing people. Similarly the stds tend to translate when asking for descriptions and so produce 'How is he?' when they want to express 'What is he like?' or 'What does he look like?'

Some of the vocabulary on the cards will not be new and others will be easy to work out, as the Spanish counterpart is very similar. However, some of the affixation will be new to the stds, such as 'ish' in 'shortish'. With the questions using 'like' the students know the use of 'like' as a verb with the idea of enjoy. However most will not have seen or will have forgotten the use of 'like' as a preposition that asks for a description.

Anticipated Problems and Solutions
For the weaker stds the vocabulary input may be quite high but as the stds will be working in groups then I will arrange the groups so there are weaker stds with stronger stds working together.
The meanings of the questions may present problems, if so ask if any of the stds can translate the questions into Spanish hence clearing up any ambiguity.

Whiteboard, vocabulary cards, pictures of people, homemade tape - script at end, and worksheet for exercises.



Stage 1 - Lead in - To get stds thinking about the subject matter, present new vocabulary and to practice using a bilingual dictionary.

20 mins

i) Group as a whole look at different pictures of people and brainstorm words to describe them.
ii) Students divide into groups of 3 or 4. Using dictionaries where necessary to check meaning they stick different words onto the pictures. All possibilities may not be possible in each group. T monitors and helps with any problems
iii) Stds look at the other groups' work
iv) Individually stds divide the words into two categories; appearance and personality.
v) Compare in pairs.
vi) Feedback. (if short for time refer stds to two lists in the book
vii) On board 'overweight, elderly, well-built, in his/her mid-thirties, shortish'
As a group discuss uses of the words. i.e. Overweight and elderly as more polite terms for fat and old. Well-built is usually for men and the impreciseness of with mid-thirties and the use of '-ish'.

Stage 2 - To give extensive listening practice. To give listening practice for specific information and to elicit questions

15 mins.

i) Stds listen to tape and decide which picture, from the pics used in the previous stage, looks the most like the person being described.
ii) Stds compare
iii) Feedback
iv) Stds listen again and write down the words that are used to describe the person
v) stds compare in pairs
vi) Feedback
vii) Stds listen for the questions that are used in the listening text
viii) stds compare.

Stage 3 - To present and give controlled practice of questions using 'like'.

10 mins

i) Stds offer 1st question from listening - replay section if necessary
ii) Model and drill (from tape) Choral and individual
iii) Stds offer 2nd question from listening
iv) Model and drill
v) Stds offer 3rd question from tape
vi) Model and drill
vii) Write up Qs on board mark stress
viii) Stds copy
ix) On worksheet stds match Q to definition
x) Compare
xi) Feedback. If problems translate
xii) Stds complete exercise in book pg.48
xiii) Compare
xiv) Feedback

Stage 4 - To give less controlled speaking practice of questions with yes/no answers.

15 mins

i) T thinks of a famous person and invites stds to ask 20 Qs to find out who it is explaining that I will only give the answer yes or no
ii) Stds ask Qs
iii) Stds do the same in small groups
iv) T monitors making note of errors for feedback

Stage 5 - (if time activity or alternative to Stage 4 if short for time) Lead in to a process writing activity

5 mins

i) Set the scene. Tell the stds they are 16 years old and have just started going out with a new girl/boy friend and they are going to write a letter to a friend describing the person
ii) Stds imagine the person and brainstorm ideas under the 3 questions presented earlier
iii) If time stds write the first draft, finish for homework


confident generous patient
ambitious a sense of humour shy
boring easy-going extrovert
lively supportive pretty
overweight elderly smart
well-built balding in his/her mid-thirties
suntanned freckles shortish
double chin glasses moustache
scruffy plump curly


Describing people








What's he like? what he enjoys
What does he look like? general description
What does he like? physical description


Mike: Hi John. Can I ask you a favour?
John: Sure
M: Could you pick my brother up from the airport tomorrow at 11am. I have to work
J: Sure. What does he look like?
M: Well he's shortish with dark brown hair. He's got a thick moustache and he's usually quite suntanned and he's in his mid-thirties.
J: And what's he like?
M: Well he's pretty easy-going, good sense of humour but he's a bit shy with people at first. Oh yeah one other thing. What are the best places to take him?
J: Well what does he like?
M: Well he's a bit boring like that. He really doesn't like much.
J: Look. You're in Madrid you can do loads of things. Take him to see Real Madrid if they're playing at home, or take him to Casa Patas to see some flamenco, or just go out in the city centre.
M: Yeah of course. Anyway Thanks I owe you one.


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