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If desire were a piece of furniture,..............

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This activity provides some creative practice for abstract nouns, as well as review of common "superordinates" (general concepts such as animal or piece of clothing) and "hyponyms" (specific examples of a superordinate, such as orangutan or overalls). It is recommended as a vocabulary review in advanced classes where students have been confronted with a heavy dose of abstract nouns.

1. Brainstorm together with the students on a list of superordinates, such as beverages, means of transportation, and household objects. (It can help to give the students a few minutes to brainstorm in pairs, then bring them together to read out their lists.) Write a good healthy list on the blackboard.

2. Next you want to brainstorm another list of abstract nouns, such as power, desire, and awkwardness. Write that on the board next to the first list.

3. Then write this structure on the board:

If _____________ were a ________________, what __________ would it be?


4. Now for the fun part! Have students create questions along the lines of "If desire were a piece of furniture, what piece of furniture would it be?" First, provide a few examples, then give students a few minutes to construct some interesting questions.When they're ready, have them ask the class. Write the question and answers on the board. The results are often very amusing.

Hall Houston
Fortune Junior Technical College
Chishan, Taiwan

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