Tag Archives: Drawing

Describing people – Is vs. Has

She is blue eyes.”

My grade 5 elementary learners are doing descriptions of people at the moment. Most of the vocabulary gets picked up quite quickly: tall, short, thin, fat, long hair, big eyes etc. are no problem until it comes to using them in sentences, when suddenly constructions like “She is big eyes” or “I have tall” start to appear. This is a fairly common problem for Korean learners, as ways of describing people are very different in their L1. For example you literally say “height big” in Korean, as there is no copula with adjectives, and no concept of “tall” expressed in a single word.

It’s difficult to explain quite why and how you choose whether you need “has” or “is” for something like “long hair”, without using an awful lot of complex language which is of course way above the students’ level. In general I find it’s just better just to drill them until they produce the forms without thinking, but to help them in forming new expressions I came up with an easy and fun way to differentiate the two. The rule is:

If you can draw it separate from the body or face, use “has”. If you can’t, use “is”.

It also makes for a nice reminder for students when they make an error like “She is blue eyes” and you can draw something like the picture at the head of this post. Actually, that’s more creepy than anything else, but it seemed to work in my class.

As with everything in language learning, there’s an exception. I’ll leave you to guess what that is from this picture. Answers and other exceptions in the comments below.


Yes, I failed my perspective drawing class.


Toodle pip.



Drawing the passive.


A man eating an apple / A man being eaten by an apple

I seem to be stealing, borrowing or appropriating a lot of lessons at the moment. This is mostly because I’ve been much better recently about reading blogs (and writing this one) and I see great ideas all the time. This helps me a lot because I teach every single grade in the Korean education system, from elementary school 1st grade right up to high school third grade. Encountering so many great ideas on the web means that recently I’ve been able to stockpile ideas, which has cut my lesson planning (or at least lesson thinking) time right down, and also made it much easier to improvise in class, two things I wanted to improve on this year.

This week’s lesson was half-inched from Jamie Keddie (watch his pecha kucha presentation of this, it’s brilliant). Doing grammar goes down well with both my students (they’re used to it and it forms part of their exams) and the staff here, so I try to sprinkle a little into each semester’s work. I try to keep it fun, so a lesson like this is more or less made for my classroom.

The lesson begins with a request to draw a man eating an apple. I always try to start off with something easy to try to give my lower level students a bit of confidence. Then on the opposite side, the instruction is to draw a man being eaten by an apple. I stress that it’s OK if you don’t know, but usually one or two students do, and word soon gets around the class. After that I write the sentences on the board, and draw some arrows or Korean subject / object particles to show what’s happening here. Then once we start to understand, it’s on to the Powerpoint with 12 sentences cut in half. We read through this together, highlighting vocabulary and demonstrating a couple more examples (I particularly like “Hyeon Bin being crushed by a dinosaur”) of passive and active sentences. Then students take two flashcards each, and draw the sentence that they make. Finally, these drawings are stuck to the wall at the back of the classroom, and students then have to identify them and write the sentence on the answer sheet. For the last ten minutes of the lesson we check the answers and the highest scoring students get a prize.

Once again, the most positive aspect of this lesson was the sheer amount of fun that everyone had. Teacher, co-teacher and students alike seemed to be smiling most of the way through the lesson. Similar to last week’s post-it sticking lesson, it also gives everyone a change to communicate, and some less able students the chance to really shine. I also like the way that the lesson deals naturally with a very controlled set of vocabulary, so there’s lots of repetition and a better chance of recall.

There was the odd instance of individuals not working which doesn’t happen quite so much in group work. However, this was definitely the exception rather than the rule, and most of my kids were willing to have a go at least. I was also concerned that checking work at the end is difficult for lower students as we have to go quite fast, but it didn’t seem to affect anyone too badly. I quite like it too because once again it results in a lot of repetition. There was also the problem of the odd incorrect drawing slipping past, so careful monitoring is important here.

I’ve been thinking that perhaps for more advanced students, having the sentences in three parts might be better (subject, object and passive or active verb) to further illustrate the difference, but maybe that’s progression for another week. Otherwise, there really isn’t too much I’d change if I did this again.

You can find links to the lesson plan, and everything else you need to run the lesson below. I can highly, highly recommend this lesson. If you do it, I’d love to know whether you enjoyed it as much as I did.


Lesson Plan, Flashcards, Answer Sheet, Drawing Lesson Powerpoint