Teaching descriptions to the beginners [Archives:2004/736/Education]

May 10 2004

Dr. Umesh Prasad Pattanaik
Associate professor of English, Faculty of Girls' Education, Fowa, Hadhramout University

This short article, meant for the teacher-trainees, includes some mini activities, which can be used to teach short descriptions to the young learners who are in their beginning years of learning English as a non-native language. As the learners' grip over the target language, at this stage, is least likely to be firm and sound, the teacher is expected to play a major role in handling these activities in the classroom. These activities are game-like and should be treated as such by the practicing teacher.

Activity I: Think and write
Step 1: Ask the pupils to think of five things about their school: for example, six classrooms, one common room for the teachers, a garden, desks, benches, etc. Next, ask them to write down these words/phrases in their note books.
Step 2: Using these words/phrases, let them frame sentences of their own. Encourage them to use familiar verbs like be, have, play, sit, put, etc while framing the sentences.
Step 3: After Step 2, ask the pupils to arrange their sentences into a neat paragraph on the model given below:

Model Description
“There are six classrooms in our school. There is also a common room for the teachers. Our teachers sit there when they are free. But the classrooms are for us. There are many benches and desks in our classrooms. We sit on the benches and put our bags on the desks. There is also a small garden in front of our school. We play there during our free time.”
(Do not be worried if the paragraphs your pupils write turn out to be different. On the other hand, encourage them to use linkers like but, also, etc to link their sentences up and thus achieve coherence.)
Step 4: Lastly, let them exchange their descriptions to read and comment on.

Some other topics: 5 things about their village/town, 6 things about their home, 6 things about their pet animal, etc.

Activity 2: Bio-data
Step 1: Given below is a filled-in biodata form. Draw the attention of your pupils to the information contained in it. Draw their attention also to the model description following it and discuss it with them.

Name: Youssuf Rashid
Age: 21 years
Height: 5' 5″
Hobby: gardening
Color of eyes: blue
Color of hair: black
Address: Mukalla, Yemen

Model Description
“Youssuf is twenty one years old. He is not very tall. His hair is black but his eyes are blue. Gardening is his hobby. He is from Mukalla.”

Step 2: Ask your pupils to choose a friend each and then collect information from him/her on a blank bio-data form.
Step 3: Encourage them to write short descriptions of their friends on the model given above in step 1.
Step 4: Let them exchange their descriptions to read and comment on.

Activity 3: Draw and write
Step 1: Ask your pupils to listen to the short description of a rabbit give below. Then, ask them to read the description and draw the picture of the rabbit.

Short description
“This is a rabbit. His name is Halo. He has long ears and a short tail. He is as white as snow and runs very fast. He lives in my garden.”

Step 2: Ask your pupils to draw the picture of another pet animal (maybe a dog, a cat) and then write a short description about the pet.
Step 3: Let them exchange their short descriptions to read and comment on.
Try to devise activities similar to these to make learning English enjoyable.