All the colours around us lesson plan

 In this updated lesson, students learn about modifying gradable and non-gradable adjectives, are introduced to 2 useful self-study tools, and discuss the significance of the colours in our lives. The class was designed with B2-C1 students in mind and takes around 60 minutes to complete.

This lesson plan was created in response to  Milada’s challenge and the introductory part was published in the latest issue of The Teacher.

Step 1: Experiment (slides 1-3)

Invite your students to participate in an experiment. Show them the slides and ask them to choose photos according to with the instructions. After each round, they might share their choice with a partner/partners. I have used a think-pair-share approach:

  • students think about their answer for 10 seconds, compare their choice with a partner, then you ask them to raise their hands if they agree with their partner;


  • students think about their answer for 10 seconds, share their opinion with a partner making sure they use at least 2 adjectives to justify it, then ask what adjectives your students heard;


  • students think about their answer for 10 seconds, write down the number of their chosen photo on a piece of paper, and then look for a person with a different number to see whether they can persuade each other.

Alternatively, you might discuss the reasons for your students’ choices and see whether they can rationalise them.

Step 2: Personalise (slides 4-5)

Discuss the area where your students live in terms of colours they see around them every day. Show them the photo on slide 5 asking whether it, by any chance,p looks familiar.

Step 3: Language input ( slide 6-7)

Tell your students that there is a French street artist who transforms buildings facades but they will be able to see exactly how later in the lesson.

Then, show them the press article heading that summarises what Commecy does. Point to the 3 orange adjectives and see whether your students know their meaning / can figure it out from context. You might tell them that this is exactly the kind of language that would sounds / look impressive coming from them and you would like to work on their language range now.

Step 4: Extend the range of vocabulary (slides 8-10)

Depending on how proficient your students are with online tools, you might introduce them to WordHippo and ask them to search for synonyms to the 3 orange adjectives. This might be done in groups (each group search for synonyms for one adjective). Fill in the table with appropriate synonyms. Make sure to check whether your students’ findings fit the context. It might be a great opportunity to see how much they already know.

Step 5: Modifying gradable and non-gradable adjectives (slides 11-17)

The purpose of this stage of the lesson is to introduce/revise the concept of gradable and non-gradable adjectives.

Use the ones your students researched as examples. Which ones already indicate the extreme/absolute quality? Which could be made stronger? Don’t be afraid to spend some time at this stage, letting your students wrap their heads around this idea. Depending on their L1 and experience they might intuitively know which adjectives are which. Then, fill in the table (slide 11).

B2/C1 students are usually aware that adjectives rarely stand alone in the sentence. What might be used to modify their meaning? Adverbs. Elicit some examples from your students to see how many adverbs they know. Then, move to slide 13 to add some extra ones.

Now, it is time for some controlled practice. At this point, your students will probably start seeing patterns in which adverbs modify which adjectives. To establish the rule firmly, point them to slide 15.

Students are likely to ask questions whether all non-gradable adjectives might always be modified with these 3 adverbs. Here is where the next tool might come in handy: SKELL sketch engine that helps you look for collocations and word sketches. I recommend it to all my students who want to see how words work in real life. Allow your students some time to experiment with it and search for possible word pairs.

Step 6: Speaking Practice: Debate (slides 18-21)

To reward your students’ efforts, show them what Patrick Commecy does with nasty looking buildings and ask them where they would rather live. Even if your learners are unanimous, go on with the debate task (slide 21). Ask them to brainstorm ideas, take language into consideration and prepare to make a compelling argument.

Step 7: Writing Practice: Proposal (slide 22)

Finally, it is time for homework. I modelled this assignment after Cambridge Advanced writing section. Students  write a proposal outlining benefits of making the neighbourhood more visually appealing and possible ways to fund this project. I thought it would not only be a fitting coda for the class but it would also give them the possibility to use the tools they were introduced to in class on their own and utilise the language and arguments brainstormed during the debate phase.

To see more engaging lesson plan ideas take a look here, here, and here.

Personal Experience

The best part of this lesson is the initial experiment and even students who are at first surprised with looking at 3 identical photos soon get into the activity. What my students really appreciated was the opportunity to discover the rules on their own and take some time using the new online tools. The topic set us up for an interesting discussion about the importance of our surroundings and the importance of investing in making the residential areas visually appealing.


Download the presentation: All the colours around us


Access the presentation online


  1. Gosia! This is a fantabulous lesson. It’s a real pity I’m not teaching a Gen.Eng course right now where I can squeeze it in. I’m going to try and see if I can do it for the next teacher training demo lesson I deliver. I was wondering what other adjectives you had in mind – are they all student selected? If you were to choose the target language, which adjectives would you teach beyond the three mentioned.

    • Hi Adi, thanks so much for your comment! Given the lesson was designed with B2 -C1 students in mind, I’d want to push them beyond adjectives such as “boring” or “pretty”. Here’s where I’d actually use a site like wordhippo to browse through several alternatives and decide whether they are appropriate in the context (‘dreary’ and ‘luckluster’ both come up as synonyms for ‘drab’ but which one would you use to describe a building/neighbourhood?). What do you think?

    • You’re welcome, Denise! Thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope the class goes well.

  2. Fabulous presentation and comments too! I’m going to give it a try with my Upper-Intermediate students. It seems just the right thing to do with super-keen adult students like mine. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  3. Gosia, is there any chance of you uploading this presentation to your Google Drive (as you did with the Loneliest Man lesson)? I don’t have Power Point – I use Open Office Impress and unfortunately the formatting of Power Point presentations is not transferred correctly to Impress (the fonts, animations, placement of text is really messy). However, I’m able to view the (Power Point) presentation without any problems through the Google Drive link. I think I’m not the only person who could have this problem. Cheers! : )

    • I uploaded the link at the bottom of the post.
      Let me know how your students like the lesson!

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