Students themselves can provide the essential, defining information. Using pictures is great for these kinds of tasks so try and build up a stock for a variety of activities.
- A / B information gap
Provide students with two sets of the same pictures of people, but set A has half the names of the people, and set B the other half. They have to ask each other questions to find their missing names.
A: What's the name of the boy wearing glasses?
B: Is he also wearing a blue T shirt?
B: That's Paul. What's the name of the girl who looks unhappy?
- Put the pictures in different positions for each set so that students don't simply ask Who is next to Sally? and thereby defeating the whole object of the task!
- Identifying picture race
Put a selection of pictures of people around the classroom. Ask students to run up or point to the one you describe:
T: Point to the man (who is) wearing a funny hat.
The first student to point correctly can then do the same for the others so it can be a more student-centred activity. Make sure they are using the more informal form (without 'who is') and so sounding more friendly and natural.
- Who's this?
For consolidation, a writing activity (done in pairs) could be describing a famous person without naming them:
1. This is somebody who lives in London.
2. This is somebody that has got lots of money and who likes horses.
3. This is somebody with four children and lots of dogs….
The writing can then be passed to another pair who has to work out who the person is.
- What's this?
It's a good idea to encourage students to use defining relative clauses when talking about unknown vocabulary. Instead of 'How do you say robinet in English?', students can ask 'What is the name of the thing that you turn on for water?'. Also when students ask 'What does vet mean?', reply by saying 'It's a job and it's somebody who is a doctor for animals.'
Exposing students to the grammar naturally and often will help them to overcome what can be a tricky grammatical area.
Jackie McAvoy, Teacher, Materials writer, British Council Tunisia