Teaching Adjectives

English as a Second Language

By Jessica Miller

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As an ESL teacher, I've been experimenting with Storyboard That to explore the many ways it can be used to teach broad concepts, as well as very specific lessons. It isn't just a way to tell stories and make comics; it has a variety of layout options that are perfect for creating engaging activities for students. When teaching about adjectives, I use the various storyboard layouts to reinforce different ways of learning.

The storyboards you create can serve as an introduction to a grammatical concept, an entire lesson, or as reinforcement of something that you have already taught. Of course, each activity can be tailored to the level or age of the students you're teaching. I created the following examples more for younger, beginner students, with each exercise increasing in difficulty.

ESL Activities for Introducing Adjectives

The storyboards you create using Storyboard That are a great way to introduce new topics and concepts to students. The storyboard below uses the "Spider Map" layout and is a very basic introduction to a few common, easy adjectives. While it may not seem interactive, you can ask students to add images to each adjective or to think of synonyms for each. If you're using the live storyboard during your lesson, you can have the student add more adjectives that they know and use images to represent the meaning.

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The next two storyboards can be used to introduce adjectives and their opposites. They are also good exercises for students to practice or demonstrate their knowledge from previous lessons. They each use the "T-Chart" layout, which is perfect for juxtaposing words, ideas, etc.

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The storyboard above has a question mark where the student should write the opposite adjective. The text also has missing words where the student can fill in the blank with the correct adjective. For this activity, there is more than one right answer, so you or the student can write more than one adjective that describes the image. Furthermore, you can add cells to increase the difficulty and ask the student to create a scene that also represents the synonymous adjectives. For example, the student might say that the opposite of “nice” is “mean” or “rude” – both are correct and can be depicted in the same way.

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This storyboard activity is a bit more difficult than the previous one, but it is still intended for younger, beginner students. It asks the students to use their knowledge and imagination to represent the meanings of opposite descriptive words by selecting different images, emojis, colors, and scenes. Some beginner students might not be ready for the activity in the bottom two cells, so you can just skip it, or guide the students to the answers. You might also save this exercise for another time when you think the students are ready.

Using Adjectives to Describe People, Places, and Things

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Once your students have learned some adjectives, you can create storyboards like the one above to test the students’ understanding of their newly-acquired vocabulary. This storyboard uses the “Title, Cell, & Description” layout. You can use the “title” block to pose a question, and you or the students can write their answers in the “description” block below the image they are describing. You can add to the students’ description and even use it to introduce new adjectives. This exercise also allows students to see how we use different adjectives to describe a person versus a place or thing.

Putting it All into Practice

This final example illustrates how you can have students demonstrate their understanding of what they have just learned. It is not quite a story, but it allows students to see how adjectives are used naturally; they can read the first several cells, in which the adjectives are underlined for easy identification. They can also practice using adjectives in a basic narrative - I have left one text bubble empty for students to fill in based on what they see. This storyboard is very basic, but you can certainly add more cells or more opportunities for students to fill in the blanks if you think that it won't be overwhelming for your students.

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The storyboards above are just some ways that adjectives can be taught using Storyboard That. As you can see, your instruction combined with the visuals and the interactive activities allow for a comprehensive teaching approach. These visual, interactive, and fun lessons keep students engaged and resonate with them.

I encourage you to keep experimenting with different ways of teaching adjectives using storyboards and to share your ideas with fellow teachers. It helps provide more ways for students to learn and master the material.

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