- Key words: Vocabulary, adjective, synonym, antonym
- Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced
- Learner maturity: Junior high to senior high school
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Activity time: 2-3 45-minute class periods, depending on class size
- Materials: English-English and Japanese-English dictionaries, poster paper sufficient for the class size after dividing into groups of 4, markers or color pencils, stencil sets, glitter, and other crafts materials for posters (optional)
Many students have a limited vocabulary in the target language because they are hindered by anxiety that works as an affective filter. A sense of community or connectedness can be a strong factor in reducing anxiety and increasing enjoyment for foreign language learners.
In this poster project, students will increase their vocabulary by working together in small groups designed to utilize their specific interests and skills. Upon completion, each group will have a poster displaying their assigned adjective, its definition, several synonyms and an antonym, the word used in an original sentence, and a visual representation of the word. All posters will be displayed on the classroom wall, thus forming a word wall.
Step 1: Copy the Word Wall Group Activity handout (Appendix A).
Step 2: Choose a list of adjectives and write each word on a separate slip of paper. The attached list can be printed off and cut into individual slips, or a different list can be used (Appendix B).
Step 1: Begin the lesson by defining adjective. Give several examples of adjectives, using some in sentences, until there is satisfactory understanding.
Step 2: Define synonym and antonym. Show several examples using the adjectives from step one.
Step 3: Divide the class into groups of four, using specific activities. A good method for doing this is to write the words write, read, talk, and draw on the board. Have students come to the front and sign up under the activity that they enjoy the most. After all the students have signed up, create the groups by taking one name from each category. Make sure to include any absent students when creating the groups. When putting the groups together take the top name from each list or use some variation such as the top name from the first and third list and the bottom name from the second and fourth list.
Step 4: Hand out the Word Wall Group Activity worksheet (Appendix A). Read through the role descriptions and make sure the students understand their individual roles. It is a good idea to have some example posters to show the students, possibly from previous classes that have completed the project.
Step 5: Assign one adjective to each group by putting the slips of paper (Appendix B) into an empty jar or can. Have one student from each group pick out a slip of paper.
Step 6: The reader from each group will use an English-English dictionary to look up the definition and then a Japanese-English dictionary to find the Japanese equivalent. Readers will explain the meaning of the word to the other group members. Drawers and writers will then create the poster using input and support from the other group members. The poster will show the definition of the word, three synonyms, an antonym, the Japanese equivalent, the word used in a sentence of at least seven words, and a visual representation of the word.
Step 7: Talkers will share their group’s word and supplemental information while the other group members show the poster. Finally, the posters will be displayed on the wall of the classroom. Assign a designated wall space if there are multiple classes completing the project.
The lesson can be adjusted to specific class needs. One possibility is to focus on a certain category of adjectives such as condition, feeling, or appearance. Another possible adjustment is to reduce the number of synonyms.
Students enjoy this activity because they get to work together while utilizing their specific skills or interests. It is rewarding for the students to complete a project when each member contributes in a different, but equally valuable, way.
The appendices are available below.