‘so’, ‘such a’, and cheap cocktails

Another one of my ‘making things up as I go along’ reflections. This time, something that actually worked!

The materials from one of our in-house, pre-int lessons the other day reviewed so/such (a) in the context of travel / holidays / hotels, that sort of thing.

The task was ‘describe a place you’ve visited or hotel you’ve stayed in, and shoehorn in some such a nice place/so lovely style phrases’. It was alright. Apart from that none of the students seemed that bothered about each other’s stories, none of them felt much like using a ‘so/such a’ phrase, and none of them really needed to either. But hey, that was the lesson aim, so I kind of had to run with it…

I spent some of the task time listening/assisting/etc, and the rest zoning out thinking ‘if I’m supposed to get learners using this language then I’m failing – so what other tasks have a got up my sleeve?’

I scribbled down (i.e. typed out on the IWB) a dialogue like this…

A: Oh, hey! You’re back! How was your break?

B: Oh yeah, amazing!  You?

A:  Oh! Fantastic! You should have seen the hotel!

B: Yeah?

A: It had such a huge pool!

B: That’s great! Was it an infinity pool? My hotel had an infinity pool. You couldn’t see where the pool ended and the sea began, it was so beautiful. And at night… so romantic!

A: Romantic? Well, our hotel pool was heart-shaped…


I modelled the dialogue with one of the stronger students, hamming it up a bit. I elicited (although students didn’t know the terms themselves) that the two people were bragging/trying to outdo each other. Then highlighted the use of the ‘so/such a’ and laid the exaggerated tone on a bit thick.

I gave students some time to note down things like facilities/services etc in a hotel and things that would make them awesome, like…

  • Happy hour = happy FIVE hours
  • BOGOF cocktails = BOGSF cocktails (six!)
  • Free hotel welcome drink = free hotel welcome beer
  • Hotel gym = gym on every floor / private gym
  • Private beach = private beach with free sand castle building equipment

Then they performed their own dialogues, listening carefully to try and outdo each other, like in the example.

Follow-up question was: be honest, did anyone’s break actually sound better than yours?

Did it work?

Yeah. There were definitely more attempts to use the target language than in the previous task. Students were really engaged and really warmed to this role play idea. There was a fair bit of emergent language on the board by the end of the task.


I’ll bank this idea. It’s easily adapted and was a winner with my adult classes.


Feature image: Kobby Mendez unsplash.com

Categories: grammar, Lesson Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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