Accurately describing people, places and things is a crucial skill in ESL. Once students have mastered comparatives, learning superlative adjectives will enable them to speak more confidently about everything from TV shows to last night's party. Teach superlatives with a variety of engaging activities to quicken students' learning and maximise their chances for success.
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Put students in pairs and give each pair a role to play, such as an arguing husband and wife, a newly married couple or two friends talking about someone they both want to date. Don't offer any guidance beyond "Create a conversation and use at least three superlative adjectives each." Give each pair a few minutes to plan, and then act out their skit. You should get assertions like "You're the laziest wife in the world!" and "He is the most gorgeous man I know."
Have students pretend your classroom is a variety of places such as a zoo, a cinema or a shopping mall. Play background music and let them mingle and use their imaginations to talk about their surroundings. You may hear "This is the stupidest movie I have ever seen" or "That is the ugliest pair of shoes in the store!" Mingle with them so you can monitor and make corrections.
Make a list of student-supplied adjectives, such as tall, funny, old and fast. Have students survey their classmates for a moment, and then get out a sheet of paper and list each student's name in a column. Students should write one superlative adjective to describe each classmate, using an accompanying noun (for example, "prettiest eyes") if necessary. Tell students to keep it positive. Afterward, call each student's name and have her classmates read their superlative opinion.
Play "Mad Libs" with your students. It's an excellent way to help students form superlatives and become familiar with which adjectives to add "est" to and which to precede with "most." Make up a story before class, leaving blanks where all the adjectives should be. Let students work in pairs to complete the story with superlative adjectives, and then read the stories aloud.
For a quick and easy review of superlative adjectives, hold up pictures of various people and things, such as celebrities, houses, books and food. Start at the beginning of each row of students and have each of them give you a superlative adjective relevant to the picture. Go the next row and hold up a different picture. Go through the rows twice so that each student gets two tries.
Get a beach ball and have students stand in a circle. Call out an adjective, such as 'beautiful,' and throw it to a student. She should convert it to a superlative adjective ('most beautiful') and throw the ball back within three seconds. Repeat this activity with every student and go a few rounds to help students learn to convert quickly.
Pass out copies of an English-language newspaper (one for every two students) and put students in pairs. Give them a pair of scissors and have them cut out every superlative adjective they can find in 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes, collect each pair's cut-out adjectives and give them to another pair. Instruct the pairs to write a script about their country using each of the adjectives, and then perform it for the class.
Tell students to imagine that they are living in Superlative World. Here, apples aren't just red, they're the reddest apples in the universe. Tell students they may use only superlative adjectives for the entire class period. For example, if a student wants to say something is funny, he must say it's the funniest thing ever. As your students realise how silly the statements sound, they'll laugh and learn that superlatives are not always appropriate and should be used carefully to avoid exaggeration.