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Teaching notes and ideas EAL Nexus

Name of resource: Describing animals

Age group(s) Subject(s)

8 to 11 Science

Topic Language Level

Animal adaptations Beginner

Description of resource
1 set of picture cards and 1 set of word cards (on PowerPoint)
3 substitution tables (also on PowerPoint)

Preparation needed
You will need:
 a copy of the picture and word cards for each pair or group of 4
 3 substitution tables per pair of learners
You will need to:
 print out the PowerPoint as 6 to-a-page handouts and cut up to form picture and
word flashcards as required. You can cut up two sets of pictures for non-
readers and very early beginners, or one set of pictures and one set of words
for other beginners
 print out the substitution tables as A4 slides, or use electronically if preferred

Curriculum objectives

 describing animals

Language / literacy objectives

Functions Structures
Describing It’s got …… (It has got)
Has it got? Yes, it has, No, it hasn’t
It hasn’t got
It’s a … They’re…
It is
It isn’t
Which one is the …..?
This/that one is the …

This project and its actions were made possible due to co-financing by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals © British Council 2014
EAL Nexus


Animals: lion, ant, polar bear, spider, frog, shark, kangaroo, camel
Numbers 1 to 9
Body parts: legs, skin, teeth
Adjectives: sharp, green, black, brown, white.

This resource could be used:

 as differentiation within class for an individual or group of EAL learners
 one to one or small group working with a teaching assistant in advance of a
lesson on this topic

Ideas for using the resource

What to do
Ideas for using the cards before doing the main speaking activities:
Introduce new vocabulary, model, and drill.

 Group chain drill

Learners pass the cards round the group, asking and answering What is it? It’s a
… Show the first picture to Learner A on your right and say ‘What is it?’ If learner
A doesn’t know the answer, say ‘It’s a shark…’ Then give them the card. Get
them to ask the next student on their right ‘What is it?’. When student B gives the
answer they are given the card by student A. This can go around the table with
each student asking and answering the same question. You can feed in more
than one picture at a time so a few are travelling around the group at the same
 One to one
If it is an isolated beginner, lay the pictures face up on the table and simply point
to the picture and say Which one is the …..? then ‘What is it?’ or ‘’ and encourage
them to answer with ‘This/that one’ or ‘It’s a……..’ or Give them a few seconds to
think about it. If they don’t know, tell them the answer and get them to repeat the
word with a hand gesture. (Using hand signs or gestures to elicit speech from a
beginner, helps cut down teacher talk, which can be overwhelming and confusing.
First, say the word/s you want the beginner to say. Then use a ‘give it to me’
gesture with palm up and four fingers repeatedly lifted towards yourself. Complete
beginners usually understand the signal and it becomes a natural part of future
lessons.) After you have given them the English name choose a different card. Go
back and forth, pointing at different cards until the student can name all the

This project and its actions were made possible due to co-financing by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals © British Council 2014
EAL Nexus

pictures. This activity offers an opportunity to celebrate the student’s first

language, by asking them how to say a word or two in their own language.

The main speaking activities

 Pairs: a matching activity. If your learners need a little more practice with naming
the key vocabulary, this game helps learners to practise them using ‘It’s a…’.
Spread 2 sets of cards face down on the table. Learners take turns to pick up two
cards. If the cards match, they keep the pair. If the cards don’t match, both cards
go back face down again. For younger students the cards can be left face up.
Matching pairs can be pictures only or words and pictures

Key rule: Every time a learner picks up a card, they must say the relevant words.
e.g. ‘It’s a polar bear,’ or ‘They’re teeth.’

 Slap the table is a lively small group game for practising ‘It’s got’. Lay the
picture cards spread out and face up on the table. Demonstrate by describing an
animal. e.g. ‘It’s got eight legs’. The first player to guess the animal correctly
slaps the corresponding picture. When the learners have done a few, give them
the chance to lead the group by describing in the same way. They could use
substitution table 1 for reference.
 Enquire and eliminate: this barrier game is for practising the question form ‘Has
it got?’ in pairs or in a small group. This activity should be taught after learning
the names of the animals and after ‘It’s got’ has been learnt and practised.
Learner A chooses an animal without saying its name. Learner B asks 3
questions using substitution table 2, e.g. ‘Has it got eight legs?’ Learner B tries to
guess the animal. When learner B has guessed the animal correctly, both
learners swap roles.
 Card on the head is a barrier game. This is played as a group activity or in pairs.
It is based on the game ‘Headbandz.’ Place an animal card on each learner’s
forehead, face out, so everybody in the group can see the card except the
learner, who is holding it to their own forehead. All students need take turns to
ask questions of each other e.g. ‘Has it got 8 legs?’. The aim is to be the first
person to guess their own animal. You can keep feeding in new cards as learners
guess correctly.

Writing activities
 Substitution tables
These writing activities practise the target language structures and
Start by practising using substitution table 1 orally in pairs.

This project and its actions were made possible due to co-financing by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals © British Council 2014
EAL Nexus

After oral practice, beginners could then write sentences using the substitution
table and numbered pictures.
Learners choose a word from each column so that the sentence makes
sense. The pictures are numbered. The learner writes number 1 in the
margin. Next to number 1, the learner writes the correct sentence
e.g. ‘It’s got no legs. It’s a snake.’ or ‘It’s got green skin. It’s a snake.’

Possible extension activities

These activities are designed to practise ‘It hasn’t got’ which is the negative form of
the structure ‘It’s got’.
 Reverse describe and guess is a barrier game
This is a similar game to Enquire and eliminate (above). Learner A describes
their chosen animal in the negative form and learner B has to guess the animal.
e.g. Learner 1 says, ‘It hasn’t got six legs. It hasn’t got sharp teeth etc. It hasn’t
got black skin’. Learner B needs to try and guess the animal. You could use
substitution table 3 for this.

 Substitution table 3
In this substitution table, the learner has a choice of positive and negative
statements and it is used in the same way as substitution tables 1 and 2.

This project and its actions were made possible due to co-financing by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals © British Council 2014