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ESL Lesson Idea: Describing People


To give a physical description of a person, your students need to understand what details are important, the vocabulary to use, and the order in which to give the information.

  • Magazine pictures of a variety of people - post these on the walls of your meeting room.
  • Student Handout: Describing People
  • Introduce some basic vocabulary from the handout Describing People.
  • Model the description order: “She (or He) is a (size,) (shape,) (ethnicity,) (gender.) (“He is a tall, slender, Asian boy.”)
  • Gradually add the other descriptive characteristics: eg. She has “short, curly black hair.” or “S/He is in a wheelchair.”
  • Give a description of one of the people in the magazine photos you have posted around the room, and have students guess which person you are describing.
  • Have the student who guesses first give a description for his/her classmates to guess.
  • Have the students try to describe themselves and their classmates.
  • Cultural note: Help students to become aware of words that Americans find offensive, such as “fat,” “old,” or “ugly.” Give them other, more socially acceptable words such as “heavy-set,” “older,” or “plain.”
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