How do I teach expressive words to teenagers?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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How do I teach expressive words to teenagers?

Unread postby Naz » 05 Aug 2006, 09:42

Dear Lucy,

I was wondering if you could give me some ideas about how to teach abstract words like 'jealous' to a group of 10-15 year old. I have tried to think of some concept questions but unlike anger, it is a more vague emotion and I am not sure what questions to ask my students to make sure they understand words that express such complicated emotions.

I would be grateful for any suggestions!!!


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Teaching abstract words

Unread postby Lucy » 10 Aug 2006, 14:30

Dear Naz,

Yes you're right these are abstract concepts and this makes them more difficult to teach.

I think the way around this is to create a situation which illustrates the meaning of the adjective. You can describe this situation and work on it with the students and then follow this up with a translation of the word. The benefit of using a translation is that it is fairly quick but the students also need to see and hear the word in context.

For the word jealous, I would suggest the following:

I love Ferrari sports cars (you can show a picture, you could change Ferrari for another object)

I have lots of pictures of Ferraris. I really want to buy a red one but I don't have the money. Owning a Ferrari has been my dream for years.
My friend phoned a few minutes ago and said he has just bought himself a beautiful red Ferrari. Now I feel jealous.

You can describe this situation slowly to the students and use mime or pictures to illustrate it. You can also expand on the story.

Then use the following questions:

What do I want to buy? A red Ferrari
Is it possible? No
What does my friend have? A red Ferrari
Is my friend lucky to have this Ferrari? The students could answer yes or no. Explain that you think he's very lucky
Do I feel happy for my friend? Explain that you don't
Do I want his car? Yes
How do I feel? Jealous

In some cultures the colour green is used to signify jealousy. Check if this is the case where you are teaching. This could also be used as an illustration.

Best wishes


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