Teaching Emphatic Adjectives for Effective Presentations 

Aleksandr Gutkovskii, Soka University

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Presentations, adjectives, thesaurus, synonyms, autonomous learning
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Learner maturity: High School and above
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Activity time: 30 minutes
  • Materials: Presentation slides, blackboard, smartphones, thesaurus, dictionary

Using emphatic vocabulary is one of the key aspects involved in creating an engaging presentation. However, our students might often choose to stick with the words that they are familiar with, thus limiting the expressive power of their presentations. In this discovery-driven activity, students will learn how to search for emphatic adjectives using a thesaurus. 



Step 1: Prepare slides that include an example of a restaurant review and reviews for two restaurants (see Appendix, slides 1 to 5). The only difference between the reviews is the adjectives used. The review for restaurant A should contain emphatic adjectives (amazing, magnificent), while the review for restaurant B should feature non-emphatic adjectives (good, fine). 

Step 2: Add slides with pictures that illustrate the difference between emphatic and non-emphatic adjectives (See Appendix slides 6 and 7). Prepare a list of emphatic and non-emphatic adjectives and compose several sentences featuring non-emphatic adjectives (See Appendix slides 8 to 12).

Step 3: Prepare to demonstrate an online thesaurus/dictionary (https://www.thesaurus.com/).



Step 1: Ask students to form groups of three to four people.

Step 2: Briefly introduce an example of a restaurant review using slides. Ask students if they check reviews before going to a restaurant. 

Step 3: Show two restaurant reviews, one with emphatic adjectives (Restaurant A) and the other with their weaker counterparts (Restaurant B). Ask groups to guess how many stars were given to each restaurant by reviewers. Give groups two minutes to discuss their guesses and ask one person from each group to share with the class. 

Step 4: Tell students that Restaurant A received five stars, while Restaurant B was given only three stars. Ask students what the difference between the reviews is. Give groups two minutes to think and discuss, and then elicit answers. 

Step 5:  Tell students that the difference is the use of adjectives and explain the concept of emphatic adjectives using your slides with pictures. Refer to the restaurant reviews and note that emphatic adjectives help make a stronger impression.

Step 6: Show students the slide with the list of adjectives, both emphatic and not. Draw a continuum on the board with one pole labeled as “weak” and the other one as “strong”. 

Step 7: Ask students to work in groups and write adjectives from the list on the continuum on the board. 

Step 8: After students finish writing adjectives, check the continuum and give feedback. 

Step 9: Introduce a thesaurus and demonstrate how to use it. 

Step 10: Ask students to find synonyms for the word “good” and write them on the board. 

Step 11: Ask students to cross-check the synonyms using a dictionary. Checking a dictionary helps students to rule out weak synonyms since the thesaurus does not distinguish non-emphatic synonyms from emphatic ones. Students should also check example sentences and pronunciation. 

Step 12: Ask students to decide whether these synonyms are emphatic or not. Elicit answers and provide feedback if needed.  

Step 13: Show students example sentences with non-emphatic adjectives and ask them to use a thesaurus and rewrite the sentences using emphatic adjectives. They cannot use adjectives from the previous steps. Ask one person from each group to share sentences. 



By using a thesaurus to search for emphatic adjectives, students will widen their vocabulary and improve their presentation skills.



The appendix is available below: