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One of the most important steps in improving writing skills is expanding the use of more descriptive language when describing actions. Students tend to repeat verb usage: "He said… , She told him… , She asked… , He ran quickly… , He walked across the room… ". The target of this lesson plan is to get students more aware of the subtle variations that they can employ by using more descriptive verbs such as: "He insisted on… , She giggled… , They nibbled on… , etc."
Improve descriptive verb usage in writing
Vocabulary expansion activity followed by writing activity focusing on expanding on a bare-bones extract
Upper intermediate to advanced
- Write the verbs 'say, laugh, walk, eat, think, drink' on the board and ask students to divide into small groups to think up as many synonyms for these verbs as they can.
- Once students have finished this exercise, pool the results together as a class. You may want to have a student take notes and photocopy the class results.
- Have students return to their groups to do the exercise below matching general meaning verbs to more specific verbs.
- Once students have finished, compare answers as a class. Your acting abilities might be called for to explain the subtle differences between a number of the verbs.
- Next, ask students to write a simple story about something that has recently happened to them. Instruct them to use simple verbs such as 'say, do, make, tell, walk, etc.'
- Have students pair up and exchange their stories. Each student should then elaborate the texts of the other student by using as many verbs previously studied as they can.
- Once students have finished and compared their stories, the class can have some fun reading the stories aloud.
Match the more specific verbs to the general meaning verbs in column one.
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