Process Description

Providing context is key to learning new vocabulary. Vocabulary lists help introduce students to new words and phrases, but reading and listening comprehension helps students deal with new vocabulary in an authentic situation. This exercise takes that idea one step further by asking students to relate verbs and verb phrases to a specific process. This exercise will help students develop narrating skills by thinking in terms of verb 'groups' that belong together.

The situation provided in the example lesson focuses on the development of a relationship - from first meeting to marriage and settling down. Other ideal situations for this type of activity include:

  • Business processes (from idea to delivery to market)
  • Choosing your college (from research into schools to application to acceptance)
  • Learning a hobby or sport (from discovering the hobby to learning to proficiency)

Focusing on processes can help students recognize which verbs go together both in terms of grouping, but also in terms of sequencing.

Aim: Improve vocabulary through focus on verbs and verb phrases in processes

Activity: Ordering a process, reading comprehension, creation of student outline

Level: Intermediate to advanced


  • Tell your students a simple story (like the one below, or make one up on your own). Ask students to identify the various phrases of the story.
  • Once a structure for the story has been decided upon, ask students to work in groups to identify verbs which pertain to that phase of the process.
  • Divide class up into small groups, provide the worksheet. Ask students to put the verbs in the order they think they will appear in the story.
  • Have students read the short story and compare the order they chose to the story. How could they change the story so the order followed their own choices?
  • Present the idea of processes to the students. What events in life develop over a period of time (use some of the examples from the introduction).
  • Ask students to choose one of these processes. Have them divide the process up into phases as in the example story.
  • For homework, or in class, ask students to make a list of verbs and verb phrases that relate to this process.
  • Have students write a short story using the verbs they have identified during their mapping out of a process.


catch someone's attention
hang out
make small talk

Getting to Know You

bump into
have some coffee
trust someone with
get someone's number

Going Out

call up
make a date
pick someone up
get to know someone

Getting Married

fall in love
set a date
buy an engagement ring
be married by

Starting a Family

settle down
become pregnant
furnish the house
make decisions together
choose a name

My Wife and I

I love telling the story about how we met, got married and had our first child. She first caught my attention when I was hanging out at the shopping mall. My friend introduced me to her and we spent the afternoon making small talk. I liked her a lot, but I didn't see her for a few months. Then one day, we bumped into each other at a soccer game. I asked her to have some coffee with me. During that first 'date' we talked for a long time and she began to trust me with a lot of her secrets.

After an hour or so, I was lucky enough to get her number! I called her up the next day and made a date for Saturday. When I picked her up at her house I was so happy! We went out and during the date we really got to know each other. Well, after that I fell completely in love with her. We dated for four months and then I went out and bought an engagement ring. I proposed to her in a fancy restaurant, and she said yes! We set the date in June and were married by a priest in the local cathedral. After that we settled down and began to make decisions together. We wanted a family, so my wife became pregnant the following year. We were so happy together! We decided to buy a home and spent the next four months furnishing the house in order to get ready for the baby. Finally, we chose a name - Francis - for our baby girl.

It was such a simple and happy time...