Compliments: Sample Teaching Materials

Giving and Receiving Compliments in American English

  1. Introduction and Discussion Questions
    • What is a compliment?
    • What do people say to give a compliment in English and in your first language?
    • Who is likely to give and receive compliments in the United States?
    • When do Americans give compliments?
    • What do they give compliments about?
  2. Practice Giving and Responding to Compliments
  3. Student Observation
    • Assign homework in which learners collect responses to the compliments they give to other speakers of English outside the class. They could also keep track of the responses they give when they are complimented.
  4. Analysis and Practice of Compliment Responses
    • Go over with the learners the responses to compliment that were collected and discuss various possible response strategies (see the "American Compliments" section above).
  5. Practice Sustaining a Conversation Using Compliments
    • Practice compliments and responses and discuss another function of compliments, opening and sustaining conversation. Practice developing conversation using compliments and encourage learners to try it outside the class.

View an example lesson plan and sample handouts.

Above passage from Ishihara, 2003.



Ishihara, N. (2003). Giving and responding to compliments. In K. Bardovi-Harlig & R. Mahan Taylor (Eds.), Teaching pragmatics. Washington DC: Office of English Programs, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved from:

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