Monday, October 22, 2012

Descriptive Words and Body Vocabulary

I was looking around in Dave's ESL Cafe recently and found a good idea for a writing exercise. In order to help students learn more about vocabulary for basic body parts, he gave them an assignment to write descriptions of extraterrestrial creatures found in movies. Some of them, of course, have extreme body characteristics--extra arms or eyes, long teeth, round bodies, multiple heads and so on. The writer describes the activity this way:

[S]tudents then watched a scene from Star Wars and were asked to describe one of the aliens they had seen. This enabled them to revise body part vocabulary, simple adjectives - long, short etc. and colors. Students were ... given a picture of 6 aliens... They then took it in turns to describe the alien e.g. it has four arms and a long neck...Finally, the students were asked to write a short physical description of their alien. They were also asked to give it a name and say whether it was friendly or unfriendly.
Aliens in 'Zita the Spacegirl' argue over who should drive
 As with many activities described in Dave's, it is designed to work in a classroom setting, grouping students in pairs or small groups, but it should work well with a tutor-learner pair as well. And it could work as purely an oral activity as well.For visual learners, they can try to draw their own aliens for you to describe.

As for sources of alien images, to the right you can see an illustration to a young-person's graphic novel, Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, easily available in the local public library. Though it is a book for children, it features some of the funniest twelve-eyed, four-armed, triangle-headed, long-clawed aliens you may ever see. I loved every page. Other ideas: if you can get your hands on a DVD of 'Star Wars - Episode IV,' try to watch the famous Mos Eisley cantina scene together. Even easier: do a Google Image search for the phrase, 'Star Wars Alien.' It will return pages and pages of amusing aliens that you can print out and bring to your lesson. Caution: this activity may turn out to be an enormous time-consuming distraction - not recommended during working hours.

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