The topic of comparatives like “bigger”, “further” and “more fun” is covered in the majority of lower level textbooks. However, as it is one of the grammar topics that students have most difficulty converting from textbook knowledge into fluent and accurate speech, more controlled spoken practice is always welcome – and by simply introducing connected adverbs like “far…” and “a bit…” it can also be useful in higher level classes.
Describing with comparatives guessing games One of the simplest games for this grammar point is for one person to describe an object using comparatives until someone guesses what it is, e.g. “It is the biggest thing here, but it is shorter than a giraffe. It isn’t as heavy as a whale” for “elephant”. Wrong guesses should be replied to with another clue comparing the real object with that wrong guess, e.g. “No, this thing isn’t a snake. It isn’t as scary as a snake.” The objects described can be ones in the room, on a worksheet or on the board – or students can think of their own ideas. Instead of shouting out the name of the thing to guess, students could slap the relevant flashcard, run and touch the relevant classroom object, etc.
Guess the comparison This game is in New English File 1 photocopiable materials. A student reads out a comparison with the adjective missing and the other students must try to guess the missing bit, e.g. “more informal” from “(Mobile phone) texts are usually __________ than emails”. You could allow one point for other adjectives that are true, but to win or get the maximum number of points students must guess exactly the adjective that is in the original sentence. As with this example, this game can be used as a way of showing the differences between easily confused words. It can also be used to present cultural differences. After the examples on the worksheets, students can make their own gapped sentences to test other groups.
Guess the comparison hint by hint This is a slight variation on the game above. Students give more and more example sentences with the same missing comparative until someone who is listening works out what the missing word is. Each hint should be linked to the last one. For example, they could start with “The projector is probably the most lalala thing in this room”, then “A car is even more hmmmhmmmm than the projector” etc until their partner guesses that the missing words are “expensive”. The game then continues with different adjectives.
Perfect picture dictation A Picture Dictation is a task in which one student describes something that the other student can’t see (e.g. something on their worksheet) for the person listening to draw. In one variation, the person speaking is allowed to see what the other student is drawing or has drawn and to tell them what changes are needed with language like “The nose should be longer” and “The glasses should be more rounded”.
Warmer/ cooler numbers Students are asked to guess a number, e.g. the population of a country or the height of something in the classroom, and are given hints like “No, it’s much shorter” and “Nearly, but it’s a little heavier” until they get exactly the right number. As the comparatives are in the hints rather than the guesses, students should then ask similar questions (from their own knowledge, their research or a worksheet) to test each other in the same way.
Comparative forms race The teacher or a student shouts out one adjective and students race to shout out the correct comparative form, getting one point for a correct answer but minus five for a wrong guess. This works best with regular comparative adjectives they haven’t seen the comparative forms of before, plus maybe a few ones that don’t match the most common rules such as “more fun”. You could also let them use their dictionaries (racing to be first to find the correct answer) if none of them are confident enough to use their own knowledge or guess.
More activities can be found here