Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mine is bigger than...

Winners compare their achievements with their goals,
while losers compare their achievements with those of other people.
~ Nido Qubein

Hence, winner or loser, everyone makes comparisons.  

Although, admittedly, that may not have been Nido's main point.  ;)

But that is the topic of my ESL lesson this week - how to form comparisons.

There are times when I think that Spanish is more complicated than English...  but this is not one of them.  In Spanish, all you have to do is put the word "mas" (more) in front of any adjective and - voila - a grammatically correct comparison!

In English - we've got two main patterns and several minor sub-patterns.  Generally speaking, we add "-er" after "short" adjectives (sweet -> sweeter) and put the word "more" in front of "long" adjectives (intelligent -> more intelligent).

Then there are the minor variations - such as:
  • if the adjective ends in the letter "y" then change the "y" to an "i" (pretty -> prettier)
  • if the last 3 letters in the adjective are of the form "consonant - vowel - consonant" then double the last letter before adding the "er" to the end (big -> bigger)

All in all, it's a lot for my students to keep sorted out.

After my mini-lecture and some whole-class practice, I've got an activity planned that is kind of a cross between the card game "War" and those role-player games (RPGs) like (okay, I know I'm dating myself here...) "Dungeons and Dragons".  

I got a set of character cards (see the graphic above) from this web site (click here).  There are robots, aliens, humans, animals and mythological creatures represented.  Each character has 8 characteristics - ranging from the mundane (age and height) to the fanciful (power ranking).  

After the students divide up into pairs, I'll give each student a handful of cards, which they'll hold upside down.  One student will select and announce one of the 8 characteristics.  Each student will reveal the top card in his or her stack.  They'll compare the cards on the selected characteristic.  The one with the highest value will announce "I am ______ than you are" and collect both cards.  The one with the most cards at the end is the winner.  

Hopefully this will provide them with some good practice forming comparisons out of adjectives.  

And, hopefully, this will be somewhat enjoyable.  ;)

I am wondering if this variation on a RPG will "work" for them - my imagined prototypical RP-gamer was a young, nerdy male - not a substantial portion of my class population, to put it mildly...  ;)

But I did some research on the internet and discovered that my stereotype is wrong - at least on age, and possibly on gender too.  One study reported finding an average age of 31 years among RPG players, and a gender distribution favoring males at 80/20.  Another study found an average age of about 40 years and a gender distribution much closer to 50/50!  

Of course, no one reported specifically on how well ESL students enjoy these games - so I guess we'll have to wait and see how my students react...  ;)

Fingers crossed!  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment