Metaphorical Comparisons

There is a great activity in the book Five-Minute Activities by Penny Ur and Andrew Wright called Metaphors.

This is a seemingly simple activity which encourages students to find metaphors and make imaginative comparisons.

One of the examples given asks students to think of how a teacher can also be likened to something else such as ‘a parent’. The idea is that they say ‘why’ that is the case and discuss with each other to further feed their ideas.

A teacher is a film director, a book, a counsellor, a police officer, a car, a manager, a signpost, an artist, a key, a walking stick.

Metaphors about teachers help students come to a greater understanding and appreciation of all the various roles, tasks and responsibilities performed by their teachers.

What other ways can we think of a teacher?

For example, a teacher is…

  • a social worker
  • a lifebelt
  • a compass
  • a firefighter
  • a candle
  • a baby sitter
  • a hug
  • a gardener
  • a mirror
  • a tree
  • a Swiss-Army knife
  • an octopus
  • a celebrity
  • a compere
  • a stand-up comedian
  • a light-house
  • a juggler
  • a coach
  • a tour guide
  • a match
  • a superhero

Give students a subject and ask them to write a number of possible metaphorical comparisons and to explain why. They can then compare their ideas with their peers and talk about their suggestions as a small group and class.


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