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A Guide to Teaching English-Part 3: Introducing Students to the Beauty of Adjectives

This is the third post in a series of ‘How to teach English’ posts, by Raghav Nyati.

By the end of this lesson plan, you’d have covered almost all commonly used subject types in English. That’s no small achievement. With the last 2 lesson plans here and here, your students can speak about themselves and people around them using I, your, he, she etc. They can speak about objects and people using their names e.g. Raghav, Anjali, pen, pencil. They can also speak about people and object in relation to them e.g. my friend, her pen, and his teacher. They can point at objects and speak about these objects using words like this, that, these, those, that pen, this water bottle.

And in this lesson plan we’ll empower the students to speak about the most common attributes of the objects that they see around them. These commonly used attributes include shape, size, colour, touch, smell etc. The aim here is to empower the student to describe objects around him through the 5 sensory inputs i.e. sight, touch, smell, sound, and smell.

You can expect your student to be fairly familiar with describing these sensory inputs in their mother tongue. Because after all these senses come into the picture for a child well before he starts speaking any language (including his mother tongue). So you can expect intuition (coming from your student) to play a major role in learning this lesson plan. Of course, some of these attributes (shape, size etc.) would also be applicable to people as well. After all, a flower and an actress, both, can be beautiful. You, the teacher, would have to educate the student about adjectives applicable for people, for objects and for both. There is no grammar rule that can tell your student this. It just comes from practice. For e.g. you would never say ‘He is long’, you’d rather use ‘He is tall’, although both the sentences are grammatically correct and mean the same thing.

What do we call the group of words that describe something? They are nothing but adjectives. We have already dealt with adjectives in the last 2 lesson plans. The words that were used to describe feelings are nothing but adjectives. This lesson plan will use these feeling adjectives and add shape, size, and colour etc. type of adjectives to the adjective list.

This lesson plan is a relatively simple lesson plan. We are just going to use the subjects that we created in the last lesson plan and describe them using new adjectives. These subjects will be seen in the leftmost column of the table (which you’ll just see).

So let’s begin our journey with adjectives. As always, it begins with the vocabulary section.


Vocabulary for this lesson plan will be a major area of focus. Why? Because almost all the adjectives are good words to add to vocabulary. Hence each of these adjectives in the vocabulary section deserves individual attention. You must translate the adjectives into the local language of your students and help the student understand (and learn) their meaning as comprehensively as possible.

Vocab section:

  • Words that describe feelings: happy | very happy | sad | scared | good | bad
  • Taste: Sweet | sour | salty | bitter
  • Sound: loud | soft
  • Smell: fragrant | stinky | musky
  • Colour: White | Black | Red | Blue | Green
  • Shape & size: circular | oval | square | big | small | large | long | tall | short
  • Appearance: Cute | beautiful | ugly
  • Touch: hard | harsh | soft | smooth

And without much ado, let’s directly jump into the table. The table just puts the vocabulary words into the rightmost column. The first column is made of ‘subjects’ that have been created over the last 2 lesson plans.



Now from this table, I will give you a few good sample sentences:


As I have already mentioned in the previous lesson plans, the table encapsulates the main idea of a lesson plan. Everything else, including the exercise and activities and the vocabulary section, is created to help the student understand the table and form sentences from it.

Teach as many adjectives of shape, size, and colour as your student can digest. Keep adding these new adjectives and subjects to the table and keep creating new sentences from the table. Putting things into the table ensure that everything is structured and easy to follow for the student. Teaching about adjectives is fun. Adjectives are one of those topics in English that is very easy to teach and yet quite useful in regular conversations.

After teaching this table, you must teach the ‘Adjective + noun’ words. A lot of nouns are better described when they are preceded by an adjective. E.g. instead of saying ‘the ball is mine’ if you say ‘the green ball is mine’ then it makes much more sense because now you are specifically talking about a green coloured ball which belongs to you rather that simply saying that a ball belongs to you. These adjective-noun combos will be used in later lesson plans. But for now, think about simple sentences that you can create with these combos. If you need a little help getting started, you may refer to the main table in the last lesson plan and pick up words from there.

The negative sentences

For every positive sentence, there is a negative sentence. And if your student has understood the positive sentences so far, then learning the negative of these sentence would be really a cake walk for him. Teaching about negatives does make a lot of sense. Why? Because now for every question, your student has another answer choice – he can say no as well. Let’s pick up a positive sentence – That ball is green. Its negative version – That ball is not green.  It’s as easy as that to create negative sentences for the sentences in this table.

You must recognise your power as a teacher

How many sentences to teach? How many new words to introduce? When to stop? – You have to take the call on your own. After all, you are the teacher. You must answer these questions based on one of your biggest asset – intuition. As you gain more experience, as a teacher, the answer to these questions will come more easily (or say intuitively) to you.

You can only make your students learn the sentences that we discussed so far by asking the right questions? Questions whose answers lie in the table. I just cannot stress more on it. You just can’t go into the class, draw the table on the board, and expect your students to learn the table sentences by themselves. You have to ask them. Ask them repeatedly but patiently.

By the way, all the sentences that your student has learned from these tables will become more relatable only when you are able to put a little background to them.

At the end of the day, this content in itself can only make a little impact in your students’ progress. You the teacher have to bring this whole lesson plan to life – by asking the right questions, by creating suitable background situations and by your patience and empathy. That’s how your student will make real progress.

Go slow. Deliver bite-sized. And let your students digest what you just taught. In my experience, that’s the best way to teach English as a volunteer.

Download this lesson plan along with beautifully crafted exercises and activities, and get started on your English teaching journey right away. To learn more about volunteering and teaching English, visit the Volunteer Curriculum website. 

About the author: Raghav Nyati is the founder of Volunteercurriculum.com, which provides English teaching content for volunteers

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Volunteer Curriculum: English curriculum for volunteers.