ESL Describing People: Words, Phrases & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

An important part of learning English is being able to accurately describe people, places and things. This lesson provides ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers with words, phrases and games designed to help students describe people.

Describing People

A solid descriptive vocabulary is an important tool for many ESL (English as a Second Language) students because it allows them to communicate information about people or items they may not know the correct term for. The words and phrases in this lesson have been chosen specifically to help your learners describe people. You can use the following words and phrases when you play these games in class. The word lists are by no means exhaustive, so be sure to expand the lists as new words come up.

Word List 1 - Describing Physical Appearance

  • Tall
  • Short
  • Chubby/Fat
  • Thin
  • Pretty
  • Beautiful
  • Handsome
  • Good-looking
  • Short/Long Hair (black, blonde, brown, red, white, gray)
  • Eyes (brown, green, blue, hazel)
  • Light
  • Dark
  • Strong
  • Young
  • Old

Word List 2 - Describing Clothing

  • Pants/trousers
  • Shorts
  • Skirt
  • T-Shirt (long-sleeve, short-sleeve, tank-top)
  • Jacket/coat
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Shoes/sandals
  • Suit/tie
  • Dress
  • Swimsuit
  • Earrings
  • Necklace
  • Ring

Word List 3 - Describing Personalities

  • Enthusiastic
  • Hard-working
  • Shy
  • Out-going
  • Caring
  • Funny
  • Reliable
  • Honest
  • Creative
  • Generous
  • Mean
  • Talented
  • Playful
  • Naughty
  • Nervous

Describe the Picture

This activity will help your students express themselves and is also a great way to begin a class discussion. The difficulty level can also be easily adjusted to fit the level of your learners.

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