Undeniably Better Notes to Teach "Describing Physical Appearance" in Form One

Welcome to UNIT 14.0

PREVIOUSLY: In Unit 13.0, we covered the following sub topics; “Talking about ownership or possession” in Form One; “Describing things” in Form Two; “Creative writing” in Form Three; and “Writing expository compositions/essays” in Form Four.

IN THIS UNIT: In this Unit 14.0, we will tackle the following sub topics: “Describing physical appearance” in Form One; “Talking about games” in Form Two; “Letter to the editor” in Form Three; and “Writing descriptive compositions/essays” in Form Four.

In this Unit 14.1, “Describing physical appearance” in Form One

Sub Topic: Describing physical appearance
Periods per sub topic: 6
Class: Form One

If a person is physically described, it is easy to identify him/her. Even when a thing is described physically, it is easy to identify it.
By using any language, a person can describe the appearance of anything. It is just obvious that almost everything that appears in front of people's eyes can be described. Description of how a thing, animal, or person appears is what is called physical appearance. Through physical description of things, we can know various shapes, looks, and appearances of things or people.
See these examples below:
Amos: Hello, John. Have you seen a man in long black jacket?
John: Yes. He passed through this alley. He's running with a briefcase in his right hand.

In this sub topic/lesson, Form One students will be introduced on the various ways of giving physical appearance of the people.

By the end of this sub topic/lesson, the student should be able to describe people's physical appearance by using appropriate and relevant words, phrases, and expressions. Ability to describe people physically is an essential skill. People know each other because they are well described in their physical appearance.

This stage is about the preparation of the teacher before undertaking the lessons of the particular sub topic. These are all activities, procedures, materials, teaching aids, and games prepared by the teacher for teaching a sub topic:

  1. Putting heads together: Introducing the topic/lesson properly. Organising how students will be able to get to know what is the topic/lesson about. It is where teacher makes sure that students are going to be in his/her train. It includes brainstorming and familiarisation of the topic/lesson with the students.
This makes students stay together with the teacher. It is at this stage students can understand what is going to be discussed in the particular topic.

In this sub topic/lesson; the teacher will introduce the sub topic/lesson to the student with a Picture (show them any picture of a person) in which students will be prompted to:
·         Write some descriptive words in a box.
·         Show a picture of his/her choice to the students.
·         Ask students to describe the displayed picture.
·         Record their responses/reactions without interfering or correcting them.
·         Give the corrections at last.

  1. Preparation of Materials. A teacher has to decide on the teaching/learning materials he/she is going to use.

In this sub topic/lesson: The teacher will have to prepare various texts on physical appearance and pictures of people and things. These are the requirements necessary for physical description.

Teacher's Model
My Physical Appearance
My name is Joyce. I am 15 years old. My height is 156 cm. I am a bit tall with fair skin. I am neither black no white. I have a fair complexion with a good-looking face. I really look beautiful. I have a long hair which also looks beautiful. My neck is a little long. I have rounded lips. I am a fat girl, though I am not too fat either. At our home and at our school, there are girls and boys who are fatter than me.

  1. Target Practice. Show them/Guide them to the practice of the functions of the sub topic. A teacher has to show or guide students to the target practice of the grammatical functions of the sub topic.

In this sub topic/lesson; teacher prepares some guiding sentence patterns to students. These sentences serve as references for students so that they form correct sentences. Some examples of descriptive sentences are:

He is tall
She is very short
She wears tight clothes
Hamis wears buggy clothes
He is fair skinned.
She is light coloured.
She has a fair complexion.
She is fat.

  1. Context-Based Practice. A teacher leads students to the discussion on how the target grammatical functions practised earlier can be applied or integrated into the contexts and situations. The students are guided by the teacher to apply the learnt skills in relevant contexts and situations like school and library.

In this sub topic/lesson: In this context, the teacher has to explore and guide students to describe things and people at the school, in the street, or at home. These settings or contexts are real experiences for students. A teacher is not advised to ask students to describe things that are not familiar to them. They should start with what they know.

  1. Vocabulary Building Practice. At this time, teacher discusses with the students on the vocabularies and phrases to apply in the already mentioned contexts and situations.

In this sub topic/lesson: There may be a long vocabulary list of words, phrases, and expressions, but here are some of them: Bald headed, fair skin, handsome, attractive, beautiful, grey hair.


Guide the students to the full sub topic/lesson procedures, activities and games for the better understanding of the sub topic by following these activities:

Activity One: Introductory prompt. Allow one student to pass through the class. Go to one student and ask him/her this question:
Have you seen Mary? The student will probably say ‘Yes’. After replying add another question like this below:
How does she look like? If this question is answered well or seems difficult, ask other questions like these:
What is she wearing?
What is her skin colour?
Is she short, tall or medium-height?
What is she carrying?

If all these questions are answered well, turn to the class and tell them that that's the lesson of the day. Tell them that they are going to learn how to describe people's physical appearance.

To describe is to give a quality or an appearance of a person or something
When we describe people's appearance, we either describe ourselves or describe others.
For instance, when we describe ourselves to others we can use the following expressions:
My name is ....
I am.....years old.
I am tall.
I have....
Or in plural
We are Form One Students.
We are .....students.

We also use the same expressions and adjectives to describe people's physical appearance. For example:
Juma is my friend.
He is tall.
He has long hair.
He wears jeans.

The usual order of adjectives
The usual order of the adjectives is as follows:
Size + Shape + Colour  + before the noun.
Look at the following examples:
She is a short, thin girl.
She has small, green eyes.
He is a tall white man.

Activity Two: Demonstration of Teacher’s Model. In this activity, the teacher himself/herself has to talk about the appearance of well-known people in the school or community. For example, the teacher can physically described himself/herself if he/she feels comfortable, describe any person within the school compound or physically describe any famous person around the school community.

Find any recognizable picture of a famous person. Show it to the students, and ask them to describe the physical appearance of the particular person. Any individual student can contribute by volunteering. This will also help the teacher to identify students who are with him since the beginning of the sub topic/lesson.

Activity Three: Students’ Participation. In this interactive activity, students will be supplied with some texts that describe the physical appearances of some famous people. These are only short texts with short physical descriptions of famous people as well.
Then, students in pairs or groups will have to read and discuss who is the person being describe. To facilitate the sub topic/lesson the teacher may supply the pictures of these people on the board and students' task can be to read and go to the board to identify who is the person their text given is describing.

For example
Look at any picture. For example, a picture of a mother with her three children can be physically described as follows:

The mother has three children.
She has long hair
She is wearing blue blouse and white shoes
The children are angry.
They are following their mother.
The two children are fighting.
The small one has snatched his mother’s clothes.

In another set, the students are given the texts and study them individually, and in groups. The purpose of this task is to enable students to explain the physical appearance of the people described in the texts.
For example:

He almost reached the top of the tree. Everyone could look up when he/she wants to speak to him. His pace was so wide as he walked. They said one pace was enough for any man to sleep.

From the text like this, students are asked to describe the physical appearance of the person being described.

Activity Four: More Activities. In further practices of describing physical appearances of people, the teacher can organize more activities and games on giving oral and written descriptions of people in their families and well known people in the community.
This can be perfectly done by inviting students to come with their favourite family pictures. You may ask them to come two pictures; one is favourite family picture, and the other is one favourite famous person the student admires such movie stars, musicians or politicians.
This will increase student's quest for knowledge when he/she will be finding the picture of the famous person and it will also increase student's interaction with others. This activity will also make students comfortable and feel like these tasks are common and not strange in their societies.

Additional Activity: As a teacher, what other activity can be applied in this sub topic/lesson? You can always drop your alternative activity or activities to this article so as to improve teaching and learning of O Level English (OLE).

Picture prompt:
A teacher has to use as many pictures as possible. These pictures can be of real people like students, teachers, and celebrities or famous people. These will smoothly interact students with the sub topic/lesson.

Comparative adjectives:
These are the kinds of adjectives that are formed by adding '-er' or 'more' to the adjectives.
- '-er' is added to the single-syllable adjectives like:
Tall - taller
Big - bigger
Short - shorter
'More' is added to the adjectives with more than one syllable like:
Beautiful - more beautiful
Careful - more careful
Important- more important

Superlative adjectives:
These are kinds of adjectives that are formed by adding '-est' or 'most' to the adjectives.
'-est' is added to the adjectives with one syllable like:
Tall- Taller - tallest
Big- Bigger - biggest
Short - Shorter - shortest

Descriptive adjectives:
A teacher also has to guide students to brainstorm on various adjectives and other words that are used to describe things and people. This will widen their knowledge of describing things and people in English language. For more about Descriptive Adjectives, Click Adjectives of Quality covered in Form Two’s ‘Describing Things’.

Five senses of human being (Revision):
In this aspect, the teacher will also remind students of the use of five senses of human beings. These also help in describing things and people. These are senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell.

Ask students to discuss how they describe to someone about the person they are looking for.
Ask students to discuss how they ask someone about someone whom they don't remember the names?
Collect various pictures of famous people from the newspapers or magazines and properly cut them, then put them in front of the class. Ask students in pairs or group to describe them.

The teacher should use relevant assessment tools like oral questions, drills, games, exercises, pair works, group works, and assignments so that to check if a student is able to describe people's physical appearances.

Assessment #01
Pair works. Give students in pairs, the task of describing each other physically.

Assessment #02
Group work. Ask students to write a short dialogue on two people where one is asking another about someone else.
Assessment #03
In five sentences, describe your physical appearances.

Assessment #04
Write a short description of any member of your family. Use sentences with vivid descriptive words.

Assessment #05
Fill in the missing words in the following text:
Bald, black, tallest, most.
Our School Headmaster is called Mr. Mahundi. He has the ______head. His skin is_____. He is the_________person at our school. The Second Headmaster of our school is Mr. Lubavu. He is the________handsome person in the staff.

Assessment #06
Rewrite the following sentences to make them in logical order:
Has hair grey teacher our.
The is tallest class the he.
Dress beautiful wedding.
Moving car fast.
Am I the in class smartest the.

Conclude the sub topic/lesson soundly. Guide students to the discussion of how and why people are physically described. Remind them of the ways of describing someone physically, and discuss with them on some reasons why people are physically described.

NOTE: These stages explained above are not necessarily covered in a single lesson of single or double period. Remember that this is the guide for teaching the whole sub topic which has periods ranging from 6 to 20. So, the teacher's task is to divide these stages according to the total number of periods for a particular sub topic.

This article is about how to study and teach "Describing physical appearance" in Form One. As a student or teacher, what is your opinion on how to study and teach this sub topic/lesson?
Your opinion is worth and I believe that it can make these materials better for our own consumption.
You are Welcome!

Check out how to Study & Teach other Form One Sub Topics in this Blog!
And many more from ‘O’ Level English Blog!

Also check out how to Study & Teach the following Form Two Sub Topics in this Blog!
And many more from ‘O’ Level English Blog!

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