1. Students form groups of three or four. Their task is to program a robot. They have to decide what the robot can do.
2. In their groups they decide on the commands and write these down on a piece of paper. They also decide on a name for their robot, which they write on the paper.
3. Each group sends its robot with instructions written to another group for a testing period. Students take in turns to make commands. They have two minutes to test each robot.

Fantasy at a window

1. Put these patterns up on the board: What can you see now? Is she/he (Are they) What is he/she (are they) doing now?
2. Go to the window, lookout and describe something imaginary happening out there. After 3 or 4 sentences of present continuous action description, pause and elicit questions from the group. Continue your description guided by their questions.
3. Have an able student take over from you at the window. She/he starts a new commentary on imaginary actions. You help her/hi with language.

The shortest route

1. Divide the students into groups of 8. Tell them where you live. Tell them that you would like to visit each student in each group of 8. Ask each 8 to plan the best possible route for you to visit each of them and then get back to your home. Add that you will have to take public transport as you have no car or bike. (The routes may be from country to country or from one street to the next, depending on the type of group.) To guide their discussion, give them some useful patterns on the board: S/he takes the bus from A to B. S/he will change at... S/he'll have to take a taxi here. S/he will take the plane from... with a stop-over at... S/he won't get there until... if...
2. Ask one group to come to the board and sketch a map of your route. Ask them each to tell you and the rest of the class how to get to their particular homes. Question each student about alternative ways of travelling.

Story behind a photo

1. Ask the students to bring to the classroom photographs of themselves, or someone they know, taken some time ago; and bring one yourself.
2. Show the students your photograph, and tell them about the circumstances in which it was taken, or any other interesting facts (in the past) connected with it. Encourage them to ask questions. Then invite another student to display his or her photograph and talk about it. And so on, round the class.
3. The activity may be based on questions, in the past, about the photograph. The owner of the photograph simply states who the subject is - and from then on all information is given in answer to questions: Where was this taken? Did you live there long?
4. For homework, ask students to write a brief composition based on a similar photograph.

By men, by women, or by both

1. Ask students to write down five things that are normally, or more usually, done by men, five that are normally done by women, and five that are normally done equally by both excluding obvious biological functions! (Tell them to consider what the situation really is in a society with which they are familiar - not what they think it should, be!)
2. In groups or in full class, share ideas: do they agree with each other?

Parental control

1. Get the students to sit in a large circle.
2. Start off by saying: 'At the age of eight my parents made me... but they let me...', 'At the age of fifteen my parents made me..., but they let me...'
3. Each student in turn should make statements about themselves in this way.

Plural tennis

1. The teacher explains that the students are going to play tennis with words, counting from 1 to 30 and using plurals as tennis balls. The teacher splits the class into to teams, who turn to face each other. The teacher gives a letter, which will be the initial letter of the first words in the game. The students count in turn, 1 student from each team alternately, using a plural noun which begins with the letter given. This can only be changed when someone gives a word that rhymes with the previous one – then the initial letter of the rhyming word must be used,
e.g. Team A Team B
One boy. Two bottles.
Three buildings. Four bombs.
Five bridges. Six fridges.
Seven foxes.
2. Mistakes or repetitions of a noun count as penalty points against the team. The teams score 1 point when they use the rhyme to change the letter, and also when they use an irregular plural (for example children, thieves, etc)

Leading the blind

1. The students are divided into two equal groups. Each group forms pairs. The centre of the room is filled with 'obstacles' (e.g. chairs), with passages left in between. One member of each pair from group A goes to the opposite end of the room. The remaining partners are then blindfolded (or close their eyes).
2. The 'guides' then give directives to their partners to enable them to walk through the obstacles without touching them. Anyone touching an obstacle is eliminated. Then group B does the same.

Future shock

1. Set the scene by asking the students if they have considered what the world will be like in the year 2250.
2. After you get a few suggestions, explain that they are going to listen to some of the predictions the futurologists have made for the year 2250. They should rank the developments by placing them in decreasing order of desirability, i.e. the developments they most want to see happen should come first.

In the year 2250 you will be able to:
- decide on the racial characteristics, IQ, sex, height, etc. of your baby;
- get specialist knowledge about any subject you want by dialling for the appropriate computer program;
- do all your shopping without stepping out of your home;
- achieve your ideal weight by taking an individual programme of diet pills and liquid food;
- prolong your life for up to fifty years if you go to special clinics for two weeks a year after forty;
- fly across the world in two hours in a low orbit spacecraft;
- decide not to work at all;
- get robots to do all the routine jobs in your home;
- take holidays in space;
- live in small communities rather than big cities, which will become more and more dangerous.
3. When the students have completed their individual task, ask them to share their answers with a small group of three or four.
4. When everyone has given their views, the group should decide on three developments they think the world would be better without.


1. Write on the board and work out the structure: You must have tapped on smth.
2. Ask students to turn back, tap something with your hand or a stick and ask the student to guess what it was.
3. Students guess using the structure: You must have tapped on the desk.


1. Write a list of vocabulary on the board which you feel should be reviewed.
2. Students take it in turns to mime one of the words so that the class can identify the word that he or she has chosen.

Upside-down statements

1. Student chooses a statement, such as Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and reverses its meaning into Put off till tomorrow what you can't do today. Then he or she tries to prove this upside-down statement by giving arguments in its defence.
2. The list of possible upside-down statements may include: Laugh shortens life. Dishonesty is the best policy. The dog is a man’s enemy. Students like examinations.

Ideal day

1. Ask the students to write a description of an ideal day. They can choose freely the places they would like to be in, their activities and the company they would like to have.
2. Other topics to write about are: an ideal flat, holiday, friend.

Have I changed?

1. Ask students to consider how their personalities, or personal habits, have changed over the last ten years (or 20 years, for mature students).
2. Each should write down some things they used to be, or enjoy, or do, and contrast them with the present: I used to do a lot of sport - but today I only play tennis. I used to be much more irritable than I am now.

Eat, smile, dance!

1. Write up on the board: EAT, SMILE, DANCE. Ask the students if they always eat, smile and dance in the same way. Does it depend on who they are with…?
2. Get the students to write between 5 and 10 questions (depending on the size of the class), each addressed to named people in the group asking how they smile, eat or dance in particular situations, e.g.: 'Mark, how do you smile at your boss?', 'Maria, how do you eat when your grandfather comes to lunch?'
3. The students now fire their questions at each other across the room, with you at the board building up a list of the adverbs used in the replies.
4. Ask a student to come out and give orders to the others using the 3 verbs and the adverbs from the board, e.g.: 'Juana, eat greedily!', 'Akiro, smile sweetly!'


1. Divide the students in pairs.
2. Ask each pair to write down an advertisement of a product without mentioning it.
3. Pairs exchange their advertisements. They have to guess the product and name it at the top of the list.

Something special

1. Ask each student to write down one interesting (present) fact about him or herself (an unusual hobby, habit, job, possession, ability, disability) that he or she would be willing to talk about: I go bird-watching every weekend. I only eat natural foods.
2. And do the same yourself. Then you and individual students present your topics, talk about them briefly, and answer questions.

What I do

1. Ask students to write in one sentence stating one thing they do - or don't do - in each field. For example: SPORT: I watch tennis, but I don't play it. EATING: I don't eat pork, as I am Jewish. HOBBIES: I collect matchboxes.
2. Then students get into pairs and tell each other about themselves. Finally, each student tells the rest of the class about his or her partner: Tom watches tennis, but doesn't play it ... he doesn't eat pork because he is Jewish ... he collects matchboxes...

Kim's diary game

1. Ask students a few questions starting 'What will you have done by... (a certain time on a certain day)', and elicit answers using the future perfect. Then tell them to study two specified days of the week for two or three minutes, and try to memorize the schedule.
2. They then turn the diary-sheets face down, so that they cannot see them, and you ask them to write down what they will have done by a specified hour on one of the days - for example, by half past three on Tuesday.
3. They may work individually, or in pairs or groups. Check answers, and see who has remembered most. Then do the same again, with two other days, and see if they can get better scores.


1. Discuss briefly activities we do as part of our daily routine; and ask for examples of things people do regularly once a week, once a month, once a year. Ex.: I visit my grandmother once a month. I take my vitamin pill once a day.
2. Then give the students five minutes to write down as many things as they can think of that they do: 1. Every day; 2. About once a month; 3. About once a year
3. In groups, they read out their lists to one another, and delete anything they have written down which someone else has as well. So that at the end, each student has only his or her 'special' routines, that no one else has. Later, a representative from each group describes these 'special' routines in the third person: Justine goes to ballet class every day. Paul doesn't eat anything for one day every month.

Random comparisons

1. Learners write down ten nouns on a separate piece of paper. These can be either abstract or concrete nouns. Collect these pieces of paper. On another piece of paper learners write a second set of 10 nouns.
2. Collect these pieces of paper. Pair off the learners, shuffle the papers and give out two to each pair.
3. Learners write ten comparative sentences using the first noun from the first list and the first noun from the second and so on. For example, in one class the nouns Way and Heaven produced this sentence: The way to Heaven is more difficult than the road to Hell. Other examples were: It's easier to write on a typewriter than with a pen (from pen and typewriter); True love is as strong and enduring as an oak tree (from love and tree).


1. The first person 'serves' by saying a sentence which is true for everyone in the room, including the teacher. Examples: We all speak English. All of us are right-handed. None of us are mountaineers.
2. The second person can either accept the 'serve' and return it by writing a second sentence, or 'call a fault'. A fault occurs when the information is not correct or as required, for example, Paul is a mountaineer, or when there is a grammatical mistake. If a 'serve' or a 'return 'is faulty, the player does not score and the 'ball' returns to the opponent.

How things used to be

1. Ask students to brainstorm a list of manufactured products they possess or often use; suggest things connected with transport, instant food, clothes, entertainment, the media, their studies. You might get things like: a car, a tin of sardines, jeans, a newspaper and so on. Then ask the students to go back in their imaginations to the 19th century - or even to the Middle Ages - when these things did not exist, and describe what people used to do instead of using them. They can do this orally, or in writing, giving you their ideas later. Ex.: People used to travel by horse, or by carriage. People used to keep food by salting it. Women used to wear dresses all the time.
2. Write up their suggestions on the board, and then discuss: what were the advantages and disadvantages of the different things that used to be or happen?

A day in the life

1. Divide the class in two teams. One students from each team goes out of the classroom. Other members of the teams write down his or her schedule from 8 am. to 10 p.m. Ex.: At 8 am. Peter was sleeping. At 9 am. Peter was having breakfast. When they finished they exchange their lists.
2. Two students come into the room and are questioned by the opposite team, e.g.: What were you doing at 8 am.? The team that guesses more items wins.

Balloon Game

1. Explain that three or four famous people are in a hot air balloon. The balloon has a slow leak and one person must be sacrificed to save the others. Each person is going to argue that s/he should be saved by explaining how important or useful s/he is to mankind.
2. Form groups of six to eight. Ask three or four students in each group each to choose a famous person they admire. They should then prepare a list of reasons why this person should be saved or why the other people in the balloon should be sacrificed. The remaining students should act as judges and should prepare a list of questions that they would like to ask the people in the balloon.
3. When everyone is ready, the famous people should give their accounts of why they think they should be saved and the others sacrificed. The judges may cross-examine them, and when they have heard all the accounts, they must decide who must be sacrificed for the good of the others.
4. Explain that the balloon is still losing height. Continue as in 3 until there is only one person left in the balloon. Note that the people who have been 'sacrificed' can also act as judges.

Chain associations

1. Start by suggesting an evocative word: 'storm', for example. A student says what the word suggests to him or her - it might be 'dark'.
2. The next student suggests an association with the word 'dark', and so on round the class.

Comparing things

1. Present the class with two different nouns, such as: an elephant and a pencil.
2. Students suggest ways of comparing them finding differences or similarities, e.g. A pencil is thinner than an elephant.

I know what my teacher has done

1. The learners, working individually, write down ten questions addressed to you using the present perfect. The questions should be ones to which they expect the answer 'yes'. For example, Have you been to London? Have you ever eaten a hamburger? Have you brushed your teeth today?
2. Learners fire the questions at you as quickly as possible.
3. They keep a record of their score, one point for each 'yes' answer they get from you. They are not allowed to repeat a question someone else has already asked, and they only score points for the questions they themselves have asked. If someone else asks a question they have written down, they get no score.
4. The student with the most points is the winner. The other learners can speculate about why that person knows you so well...

Defining objects

1. Choose a simple inanimate object, and tell all the class but one what it is. Students describe it by saying what can be done (or must/should be done) with it, until the one who does not know can guess. For example, an egg might be described by sentences like: It can be eaten. It must be eaten fresh. It can be broken.
2. The guesser may also ask questions: Can it be boiled? Can it be decorated?

The way you say

1. Take one word or a short sentence and ask the students to say it in as many different ways as possible.
2. You might like to discuss with the students what difference the intonation makes to the meaning in each case, or in what circumstances this intonation might be used. E.g.: I love you / hello / please / you / yes / no.

Who's the real one?

1. Students in groups discuss the unusual experiences they have had and choose the most interesting one.
2. Then each member of the team memorizes the story.
3. Members of a team come up to the blackboard and tell their story one line each at a time.
4. The members of the opposite teams ask questions about the story and decide which of them is the real person that had that experience.

Chain story

1. Give each student a single past form ('thought' or 'spoke' or 'went'). Begin improvising a story - for example: Once upon a time there was a very old fisherman who lived in a cave near the sea. Every day he went out in his little boat to catch fish. One day there was a terrible storm...
2. When you stop, a student has to continue, bringing his or her past form into the story. For example, if it was 'thought', he or she might say: ... and he could not go out to sea in his little boat. 'What can I do?' he thought, 'if I don't catch any fish, I won't have any money, or any food...
3. And on to the next student, until all have contributed, and all past forms have been woven in. Unlike the previous activity, students do not have to repeat what the one before them has said, and their contributions can be much longer and more elaborate.

Duties and privileges

1. Tell the class to imagine that they are responsible for finding a suitable candidate to fill a position they know something about: a new teacher or student, a school secretary, killer, for example.
2. They have to write out an informal job description which might serve as a letter for circulating among likely candidates, or as a basis for interview.
3. The description should include all the duties and privileges associated with the position: You must be on duty at least seven hours a day. You can/may have a company car. and qualities or qualifications that the candidate should have: You should have a friendly, warm personality. You must be able to drive.
4. For homework, students write about the duties and privileges of a job they are familiar with: what they do themselves as a profession, or one of their parents or other members of the family do.

Important people

1. Divide students into small groups or pairs
2. Ask them to tell their neighbours which person has been an important influence in their lives and why.

Ambiguous picture

1. Draw a small part of a picture. Ask the students what it is going to be. Encourage different opinions. Do not confirm or reject their ideas.
2. Add a little more to the drawing and ask the question again. Build your picture up in about four stages.


1. Tell the class to write out instructions for a simple recipe: making a cup of tea, or boiling an egg, for example supply new vocabulary as needed. Then check that all the participants agree as to the best method - or learn alternative methods!
2. As a variation, ask for a detailed 'recipe' for a very simple operation, like opening a door: students have to describe everything that has to be done: Walk to the door, stop in front of it, turn the handle, push or pull the door open... When they think they have finished, they exchange papers, and try to find things their partners have forgotten: You didn't say: 'put your hand on the handle'.

Find someone who...

1. Make a set of cards or slips of paper, each of which has a task on it beginning: 'Find someone who', plus the present perfect. For example: Find someone who has been to Disneyland. Find someone who has had a car accident. There should be about ten different tasks, each one duplicated three or four times. Or ask the class to work them out individually.
2. Describe a task similar to those on the cards: Find someone who has ridden an elephant and ask round the class: Have you ever ridden... ? until you find someone who has, or until it is apparent that nobody has. Write up on the board: Karen has ridden an elephant. or: No one in the class has ever ridden an elephant.
3. Then tell them to take a card each, and try to find someone in the class who has done the action indicated on it, by going round asking each other questions beginning 'Have you ever...?' They should then note down the result in a full sentence, like the one you wrote on the board, and take a new card. How many answers can they find out and write down? This is a competition, so they are not to give away the answers to each other as they find them out! Participants get one point for each acceptable answer. Anyone who writes for any item that nobody has ever done it, when in fact there is somebody in the class who has, loses a point.

Family life

1. Ask the students to work in groups of three or four and decide which of the following statements they agree with and which statements they disagree with.
1. Children should only leave home after they are married.
2. Old people should be encouraged to stay in old people's homes rather than with the family.
3. People should not have more then two children.
4. Children should always obey their parents.
5. You should always ask your parents for permission to marry.
6. Children should pay their parents rent when they get a job.
7. You should always be ready to help a member of the family.
8. The members of a family should live in the same area so that it is easy for them to visit each other.
9. Family life is less important in the modern world than it was in the past.

Us lot

1. Put these quantifiers up on the board: Loads and loads of students, A lot of students, Quite a few students, Not all students, A good few students, Some students, Several students, Not many students, Few students, One or two students, A few good students, Too many students.
2. Ask each student to write twelve sentences using each quantifier once and making statements about the school, e.g. 'Some students have brothers and sisters here.'

Election campaign

1. Tell the students they are preparing part of a candidate's campaign for election to a post in either national or local government. What sort of things should their candidate promise in order to gain votes: what undertake will be done? For example: The main road in this town will be widened. A new school will be built. More jobs will be provided for young school-leavers.
2. Elicit a few such suggestions from the class and write them on the board. Then divide the class into groups, each of which is supporting a different candidate: they work out a programme of what will be done if their candidate is elected, and write it out. Supply new vocabulary as asked for, and write it on the board.
3. Then the 'candidates' (role-played by one member of each group) present their programmes, supported and prompted if necessary by members of the groups. Finally, one of the candidates may be selected by the class in a democratic election (participants are not allowed to vote for 'their' candidates).

Piling up events

1. Give each student a verb in the past tense ('sat' or 'stood' or 'gave'). Then start a simple chain of events with the sentence: Yesterday I went to town and I bought a loaf of bread...
2. The first student continues, repeating your sentence but adding a further clause including his or her verb: Yesterday I went to town, I bought a loaf of bread and I sat on a park bench...
3. The second continues likewise: Yesterday, I went to town, I bought a loaf of bread, I sat on a park bench, and I stood at the bus stop... And so on, until all the students have contributed, or until the chain becomes impossible to remember.

Dos and don'ts

1. Ask each student to think of something he or she is good at; then to think of pieces of advice for someone else new at the job. It could be a sport, a profession, or a hobby. For example, I might write about teaching: Learn your students' names as soon as possible. Don't talk too much.
2. Elicit a few examples from students; then ask them all to write at least five positive and five negative pieces of advice; they should try to make do with vocabulary they know, without asking you for more. Then they get together in pairs or groups to advise each other on, or find out about, their different fields of expertise. This may, of course, develop into an informal discussion, and the brief commands may be elaborated, in speech, into more detailed recommendations.
3. As a variation the same can be done on the basis of advice for a new student or teacher coming into the school or course. In this case, students try to come to a consensus on the best set of 'dos' and 'don'ts' for the purpose.

You are in the army now

1. Ask students to choose an organisation that has some strict rules to follow, e.g.: Army.
2. Tell them that they are to write regulation for newcomers of this organisation, e.g.: You must obey the commands of the officer.

Imaginary classroom

1. Tell the students to imagine that the room is absolutely empty: no furniture, no people, nothing.
2. They have to create their ideal classroom by suggesting how to 'refurnish' it.


1. Ask a student to tell the class his or her problem, e.g.: I am constantly oversleeping.
2. Other students in turn give advice: you should...
3. Next student tells his or her problem.

How will the story end?

1. Present the incomplete story, and invite suggestions as to how it will continue.
2. Students may brainstorm simple one-sentence suggestions, or discuss each idea as it is proposed, accepting, rejecting or amending in order to work out an agreed sequence of events.
3. As a variation, the activity may be made a little longer and more varied by stopping the story at several different points as it goes on, not just at the end. You may read a long story in instalments, stopping at exciting points to ask the class what they think will happen next (continuing, possibly, in later lessons); or a video film, a recorded narrative or play may be halted occasionally to give opportunities for conjecture.

What do you do when...?

1. Ask students a cue question like 'What do you do when you are depressed?' and ask them to jot down a few ideas, using one of the frequency adverbs always, usually, often, sometimes each time: I sometimes go out and buy some new clothes. I usually just sit and listen to music.
2. Then share ideas with each other; or try to find other students who have similar reactions.
3. Alternative situations that can provide cues are: other moods (when you are happy, annoyed, bored, nervous) or events (when you have a free day, quarrel with a friend, have an exam the next day, find yourself short of money).

The world tomorrow

1. Ask students to write down a list of changes they expect to see in the world by a date 50 years hence. For example: We shall have a working day of four hours. Every home will have a video telephone. People will live to be 100 or more. Europe will be a single country.
2. They may be told to write as many as they can in the time given; or you may want to give them a series of topics (education, technology, politics, fashion, sport, etc.), and ask them to write one or more idea for each; or they may be asked to describe three or four developments they expect to occur in areas they are expert in.
3. As a variation, students can try to sort their predictions into 'optimistic' and 'pessimistic' ones - not always as clear-cut a distinction as you might expect!

Sound only

1. Play the video extract with the picture covered or the monitor turned round.
2. Ask the students to build up a mental picture of who is talking. The following prompts may help: - Young / old? - Male / female? - Fat / thin? -- Well educated / poorly educated? - Strong / weak? - Confident / nervous? - Cooperative / uncooperative?
3. This stage of the activity could be the basis of pair or small group discussion. After five to ten minutes ask the pairs or groups to report back to the rest of the class before playing the extract again with the picture, so that the students can check their hypotheses.
4. A further discussion can then take place on the reasons for their observations and for these being right or wrong.


1. Ask each student to write you a letter per week.
2. Tell them that the subject of correspondence is non-specific and make them sure of the personal information confidence.
3. Try to answer their letters as detailed as you can.

My holiday

1. The teacher gives the class clues as to where he will be going on holiday by describing his typical activities there, e.g. I'll be eating fish and chips. I'll be drinking tea. I'll be watching Arsenal.
2. The students have to guess the city, which is, of course, London. The teacher points out that very obvious clues like I'll be visiting Buckingham Palace would not be allowed. The students are then divided into groups and a member of each group is secretly given the name of another well known town, for example Washington, Edinburgh, Paris or Rome.
3. A student in each group then describes what he will be doing there during his holiday. The other students in the group take turns to guess where he will be going. Sentences and guesses must be given within 30 seconds. e.g. Student 1: I'll be drinking wine. Student 2: Will you be visiting Paris? Student 1: No, I won’t. I'll be watching a bullfight. Student 2: Will you be staying in Madrid?

Draw a word

1. Whisper to one student, or write down on a slip of paper, a word or phrase that the class has recently learnt.
2. The student draws a representation of it on the board: this can be a drawing, a symbol, or a hint clarified through mime.
3. The rest of the class has to guess the item.

Controversial statements

1. Write up two or three controversial statements, or proverbs, on the board. E.g. Beauty is only a matter of taste.
2. Then find out what the majority opinion on each is, by vote.
3. If you have time, discuss them.

Start your own business

1. Learners individually make a list of 15 things they are good at, for example, driving a car, writing letters, making excuses, dreaming, and so on.
2. They get into pairs and in turn read out their lists. They tick the skills they share. If they realize that they have a skill which their partner listed but they forgot, they can add it to their lists.
3. Two pairs come together to form a group of four. They read out the skills that have been ticked and decide which skills all four have in common. The groups then go through these and choose skills which could be of interest or use to the general public. They also have to think of how these skills can become services. For example if cooking is a common skill, the services could be open a snackbar, deliver pizzas to homes, and so on.
4. Tell the groups that they have just established a 'Co-operative Business Venture' offering their services to the public. They must produce a list of new approaches in their service, e.g.: We can serve each 10th meal to our regular customer free of charge.

Accidental writing

1. Tell the students about an accident you have had - maybe as a child. Ask them to write down 5-10 key words from your story and then collect all the words on the board.
2. Ask the students to think of an accident they have had and write down just the key words (5-10) from that incident.
3. Pair the students and tell them to exchange papers (key words). The key words then become their own and they write an account of the accident in the first person singular as though it had happened to them.
4. While the students are writing you can circulate helping with vocabulary and structures where needed.
5. When the students have finished they exchange the papers, read the accounts and tell their partner how near the truth it is.

Sound off

1. Play the tape through once with the sound turned off.
2. Ask the students to predict as much as they can about the verbal content of the extract from the visual images alone. This could involve guessing who the characters are, what they are talking about, what their attitudes are, etc.
3. You should encourage your students to give reasons for their answers on the basis of the setting, facial expressions, use of gesture, style of clothing, etc.
4. Play the video through with the sound so that your students can check that their predictions were correct.

Sounds English

1. Make a list of items for practice. These could include individual sounds such as the vowels (a-e-i-o-u), as well as short utterances such as What?, You're where?, A big black book, etc.
2. Explain to the students that they are going to have some fun so as to 'sound English'. All of this has to be conducted with a light touch and you should be seen to be making a fool of yourself, too.
3. You should practice the vowels and short utterances, stretching them to their limits of acceptability in English, because the essential thing to do is to exaggerate. Students who do not usually go quite as far as they need to will be trying to imitate you and 'sound English'.
4. Walk around the class correcting the students and give them a chance to rehearse in pairs, if necessary.

My tastes

1. Give each student a loose piece of paper and ask them to write down one thing they love doing, one thing they hate doing and one thing they don't mind doing.
2. Do the same yourself. Take in the papers, then read them out one by one, and see if the class can identify each student - and you - by likes and dislikes.

Ambiguous picture

1. Draw a small part of a picture. Ask the students what it is going to be. Encourage different opinions. Do not confirm or reject their ideas.
2. Add a little more to the drawing and ask the question again. Build your picture up in about four stages.

Compare yourself

1. Ask students to find different ways of comparing themselves with each other.
2. Students in pairs write down or simply say the appropriate sentences. E.g. You are taller than I am.

Guess where?

1. Explain that a small object (for example a matchbox, a pen, or a book) is hidden somewhere in the picture.
2. Tell the students to find out where it is by asking the teacher questions, e.g. Is it on the table? Is it in the cupboard? Is it under the bed? The object is not, of course, actually hidden in the picture – the students have to imagine that it is there.
3. The game can be played teams, with the students asking the teacher in turns and collecting points for speed and correctness of answer.


1. Show the students a picture of a movie, music or political star.
2. Ask them in turn to make a statement about the person.
3. When a student lacks information about a star and can't say anything he or she quits.

What would you like to know?

1. Learners sit in a large circle or in any other way which will allow the smooth circulation of sheets of paper.
2. Give each student a sheet of paper. They write the main topic of their interests at the top of the page. Adults can briefly describe their profession, or if the learners are school students or all have the same profession, use hobbies.
3. Each student passes the sheet to the person on the left, who reads the title and writes a question about the subject. The papers are passed on again to the left.
4. The procedure is repeated with learners writing a question on every piece of paper they receive. They should read the questions that have already been written, so as to avoid repetition.
5. When the papers have come back to their owners they read all the questions and then write a text which answers them. They decide on the order in which they will answer the questions and on how to organize the text, but they must answer all the questions.
6. The questions and the corresponding texts are displayed together and learners mill around reading the questions and responses, checking if their question has been answered. If the learners have any queries about the way their questions were answered they should make a note of them.
7. In turn, the writers of the texts stand by their work while the other members of the group ask for clarification, or for an answer if their question was not answered in the text.

Blackboard bingo

1. Write on the board 10 to 15 words which you would like to review. Tell the students to choose any five of them and write them down.
2. Read out the words, one by one and in any order. If the students have written down one of the words you call out they cross it off. When they have crossed off all their five words they tell you, by shouting 'Bingo'. Keep a record of what you say in order to be able to check that the students really have heard all the words.
3. The procedure above demands recognition of sound and spelling relationships. You can make the activity more demanding by giving, for example, a definition of the word. The students must then listen for meaning and match this definition with their words.

Hip Hop

1. Around the 'circle' students count upwards from one, each student saying one number. However; if a number is divisible by three, they say 'Hip' instead of the number. The sequence would begin: 'one, two, hip, four, five, hip, seven, eight, hip, ten'
2. Continue until each student has had two or three turns, or until there is little hesitation and few mistakes.
3. As a variation insert a different word for all multiples of 3 and 5 (or any other two small numbers you choose), so that if a number is divisible by 3, students say 'hip', and if it is divisible by 5, they say 'hop'. Counting from one to ten would then produce the sequence: 'one, two, hip, four, hop, hip, seven, eight, hip, hop' The number fifteen would be 'hip hop'.

Broken telephone

1. Teacher mutters in the first student's ear a phrase, e.g.: "Every day and in every way I'm getting better and better."
2. The student mutters this phrase in another student's ear and so on.
3. The last student tells aloud what he has heard.

Simon says

1. Give the students simple commands: Stand up! Turn round! They must obey these commands only if you say 'Simon says' first; if you omit this prefix they should ignore them. Any student who performs a command that was said without 'Simon says' loses a 'life'. They have three lives, after which they are 'out'. Later, students themselves may give the commands.
2. As a variation, omit the 'Simon says' rule; instead, give a command and at the same time do an action which may or may not correspond to it. The students have to do what you tell them, not (necessarily) what they see you do.

Sing the line

1. Teacher plays the record of a song line by line.
2. Students try to repeat the lines with the same tempo, melody, timbre and so on.


1. Ask the students to write down the 'opposites' of these words: good, running, real, angry, Monday
2. Ask the students to suggest the 'opposites' they have come up with. Jot down the various acceptable 'opposites' on the board. Good has produced: naughty, evil, bad, nasty. Get students to explain why they propose a given word as the opposite of one on the list.
3. Write the following scene up on the board and ask the students to write its opposite or reversal: The waitress came up to Table No.3 and offered the tall man the menu. He chose and ordered. She went back to the kitchen to get what he wanted. Don't give examples of how to do this as, if you do, this will reduce the diversity of the students' reactions to the task.
4. Now tell the students that your are going to tell them the reversal of a bad experience from your own life. We once told this story in class: 'I went to work as an au pair in France. It was a marvellous family with very few children. My hostess was very kind and understanding. I had almost no work to do and oceans of free time. I had been going to stay for 2 weeks, but in the end I stayed for 6 month.'
5. Ask the students to prepare their reversed experience.

Make up a story

1. Prepare a story with as many sentences as there are students. Each sentence is written on a separate strip of paper.
2. Each student receives a strip of paper with one sentence on it. He is asked not to show it to anyone and memorise it within two minutes. After two minutes all the strips of paper are collected in again.
3. Explain that all the sentences they have learnt make up a story and students' task is to rebuilt it without writing anything down.


1. Send one student (the 'detective') outside, and ask another student for something that belongs to him or her, but is not easily identifiable - a pencil, a standard textbook, etc.
2. The detective comes back and the student gives him the pencil.
3. The detective asks the students: "Is this yours?"
4. The student - whether it is in fact his or hers or not - denies it: "No, it isn't mine. It's his." (points to another student)
5. The detective then asks the student indicated, and so on round the class;
6. At the end, the detective has to try to identify who in fact was lying and is the owner of the object.


1. Two or more students pretend to be actors that forgot their parts.
2. One student plays the part of a prompter. He tries to prompt as quiet as possible for the rest of the class not to hear anything.
3. The task of the "actors" is to reproduce prompter speech

Brainstorm round a word

1. Take a new word, and ask the students to suggest all the words they associate with it. Write each suggestion on the board with a line joining it to the original word, in a circle, so that you get a 'sunray' effect. If the original word was 'decision', for example, you might get.
2. A central adjective can be associated with nouns, for example, 'warm' could be linked with: day, food, hand, personality. Or a verb can be associated with adverbs, for example, 'speak' can lead to: angrily, softly, clearly, convincingly, sadly.

Optimists and pessimists

1. Divide the students in two teams: optimists and pessimists.
2. One student from 'optimists' begins by giving a statement, e.g.: I enjoy eating.
3. 'Pessimists' have 30 seconds to prepare a pessimistic response: If you eat too much you put on weight.

Numbers that are important to me

1. Ask the students to write down: 1) A year that was important in their lives (e.g. 1980). 2) A date that is/was important to them (e.g. January 12th). 3) A telephone number that is/was important to them. 4) Any other number that has special personal significance.
2. One (volunteer) student reads out his or her numbers; other students guess what the significance of the numbers might be; the student tells them what in fact this is.
3. Then the class divides into groups, and the papers with the numbers on are displayed to all members of the group; participants discuss the different numbers and their background stories

Work out a code

1. Tell the students that each figure stands for the letter of the alphabet, e.g.: A - 1, B - 2, etc.
2. Write on the board a number, e.g.: 3,1,20 (cat) and ask them to work out your code.
3. Ask them to code their own words and write them on the board for other students to guess.

Favourite song

At home students listen to their favourite songs, write down the lines and translate them into native language. Then they prepare different task for their fellow-students to present the activity step by step:
1. Write down on the blackboard all proper names from their songs.
2. Write down on the blackboard some key-words or expression and ask their fellow-students to guess the theme of the song.
3. Play the record for the first time till the end.
4. Play the record for the second time making pauses after each line.
5. False or true statements.
6. Substitution exercises.
7. Ask their fellow-students to think of as many rhymes for each last word in the line as possible.

Getting to know someone

1. Ask the students to list three or four things they like to know about people they have just met.
2. Working in pairs, students exchange their lists and start a conversation using their partner's questions.

Nouns that go together

1. Find some compound nouns and write their parts separate on the sheets of paper.
2. Deliver them among the students.
3. Ask them to find a partner with other halves of their words.

Correct reading

1. Prepare the cards with different texts that are not too difficult and not too easy for your students.
2. Divide the class in two teams.
3. Students from each team in turns come to the blackboard, get their cards and read the texts.
4. The team gets the point when its member read the card without a mistake.

In the news

1. Ask the students to think of 3 incidents that happened in their family in the past 10 years that would make interesting articles for a local newspaper.
2. Tell them to write a suitable headline for each article.
3. Pair the students and tell them to exchange the headlines. The partner chooses the one that appeals to them most and, taking on the role of a reporter, conducts an interview in order to get as much information about the incident as possible.
4. When each student has interviewed their partner, they continue in the role of a reporter and write the article.

Fill in the o's

1. Writes a list of words on the board and explains that these are usual words, except that the o's have been taken out.
2. The students should write them down and fill in the o's to get the right words.
3. The first to guess them all is the winner. Ex.: bkshp (bookshop).
4. Alternatively, use words with a's, e's, i's, etc.

Silent dialogue

1. Ask students to make dialogues in pairs.
2. One pair should perform their dialogue in silent way but as expressive as they can.
3. The rest of the class should guess the content of dialogues.

Mime the adverbs

1. Think of a manner adverb (e.g. slowly, secretly).
2. Tell it to the whole class except for one student.
3. This student should give a command to one of the others, for example: "Get up and turn round!" and guess the adverb.
4. If the adverb is 'slowly', the student will do the action slowly.
5. If the guesser cannot identify the adverb, he or she should give another command to someone else - and so on, until the word is guessed.

Alternatively you can tell the adverb to one student, and he should perform the commands of the class in the manner of this adverb, so the class could guess the adverb.

Line by Line

Writing exercises are not supposed to develop communicative skills, so students usually do them on their own, while doing exercises together is more interesting for students. Let's try to involve the whole class into writing and see if it works out.

1. Each student has a sheet of paper, at the top of which he or she writes a sentences containing new word.
2. The paper is folded, so that all previous contributions excepting the last one are invisible to each writer.
3. This is the passed to a neighbor, who adds an answer, comment or further question with another new word and passes it on to someone else. And so on.
4. After about five contributions, students are invited to read out the results.

Five-minutes Writing Storm

To develop and test writing skills students write dictations and compositions. They usually take the whole lesson so students often get bored and make mistakes due to carelessness. Try to get them to concentrate for a short period on getting the ideas over to you.

1. Tell the students that they have exactly five minutes to write about something.
2. Set a subject which focuses the students' minds and encourages personal responses.
3. Tell them that you will not mark any mistakes of language but will only be concerned with the ideas or experiences they describe.

Complete the Alphabet

Students have to write letters many times before they master the alphabet. They get tired of writing the same letters over and over again, and this exercise becomes less effective. Teamwork can add some excitement to this activity.

1. Divide the students in two teams.
2. The first student from each team writes the letter 'a' on a sheet of paper and passes it to the second student from his team, and so on.
3. The first team which writes the letter 'z' is the winner.

Rebuild The Dialog

One of the speaking skills is ability to keep up a conversation. At the lesson we study set phrases whereas ability to phrase one's thoughts is more important. Dialog is an unpredictable thing and your student can't learn by heart all the patterns so teach them to adequately react to every turn of the conversation.

1. Teacher divides students into pairs and gives each pair a dialog with missed words, phrases or sentences.
2. Each pair makes the full variant of the dialogue and produce it while the teacher compares it with the original.
3. The pair that is closest to the original or produces the funniest dialog is the winner.

If you use 'Rebuild The Dialog' idea, your students will always have an idea what to say. By having skill in talking they will be more prepared for real life communication.

Word String

The traditional way of studying and repeating words is not an interesting thing. Students have to force themselves and their memory. Play the game 'word string' to make this process funny, competitive and easy.

1. Start the game by saying the word 'string'.
2. Students in turn say words which begin with the last letter of the previous words, but no word may be repeated. For example: ''tring - good - doctor - run - nice - every'
3. If this is too easy, ask the students to use the last two letters of each word. For example: 'reat - attention - onto - topic - ice - century'

Change The Word

We know more than we think, because our long memory contains more information than the short one. If not motivated it is difficult for us to remember things stored somewhere deep in our memory. Your students will do their best to remember all their vocabulary if it helps their team to win.

1. Divide the class into teams of about 5-6 students.
2. Write a four-letter word on the board, for example 'TEAM'.
3. Each team, in turns, writes a new word underneath the previous one.
4. Each new word must change only one letter from the word which went before, and no repeats are allowed.
5. One sequence might be: 'team - beam - bear - beer - deer' - etc.
6. Any team unable to provide a suitable word loses points.
7. When no team can suggest a word, start again with a new beginning.
8. More advanced classes can be asked to produce words with five letters, although in this case they might need to change two letters of the word each time.

Find A Crib

When teaching 'yes/no' dialog construction, teachers ask students questions that require positive or negative answer. The students try to make a correct dialog construction, while dialog itself is not important for them. If the students were interested in positive or negative replies, they would learn the construction easier.

1. One student goes out of the class.
2. Teacher points to a student in the class.
3. He or she obtains a crib.
4. Then the first student comes in.
5. He has three attempts to ask any of the students for the crib. Ex.: Ann, do you have a crib? - No, I haven't.

Search Through The Book

One of the reading skills is scanning the page in search of information. It is widely used in Internet though it is not well trained when studying a language. Devote some time to developing scanning skill while doing text reading exercises.

1. Open your course book at random.
2. Read out a sentence or paragraph from the open page.
3. Ask the students to find the place and tell you the page number.

Your students will be able to read books much faster when it is needed to get the idea not going into details. In the future these skills will save their time spent on searching useful information in text.

Disappearing Text

Students should have a good memory to do well in studying. Learning by heart is a good way to train memory and maybe the most effective if not so boring. The 'disappearing text' game can help students achieve the same results while reading a text from the board.

1. Write a text on the board and ask one of the students to read it aloud
2. Erase a small part of the text, not more than one or two lines
3. Ask another student to read out the text on the board to the rest of the class including the missing words from memory
4. Erase one or two more words and ask the third student to read the text on the board including the missing words
5. Continue in this way until the whole text has been erased and remembered

To The Last Letter

Studying language starts with studying the alphabet. If the beginning is interesting there are much more chances the kids will like the whole process. Play the card game 'to the last letter' with your pupils instead of monotonous learning letters by heart.

1. Prepare as many cards with letters so that each of them will have at least five
2. Give out all the cards or just those letters that you are studying at the moment
3. Then call out a letter and those who have the card with this letter raise it as quickly as they can
4. The pupil who is first to raise the card, gives it to the teacher
5. The first pupil without any card left is the winner

You and your pupils will have fun studying alphabet. The game encourages the kids to learn the letters faster as the better they know the alphabet the more chances to win they have.

Sounds Around Us

Students can better comprehend the language they study when they listen attentively. However most listening-comprehension exercises develop words recognition skills rather than attention. Play the listening game to pay attention to the sounds they hear but are not aware of.

1. Ask students to sit still trying not to make any sounds
2. Ask them to close their eyes for one minute and listen to the sounds inside and outside the room
3. After one minute, ask them to open their eyes and write on the board: 'Did you hear?'
4. Students begin asking you, 'Did you hear the scream?' 'Did you hear the car crash?' etc.
5. Answer them with, 'Yes, I did!' or 'No, I didn't.'

You will teach your students to be good listeners. This will help them understand more of foreign speech in real life situation that is much different from a distinct voice on a record.

Clap Your hands

Majority listening-comprehension exercises are based on listening to tapes. It's like listening to a boring radio program: if students had a chance they would change the station or turn the sound off. Why not make it a little bit fun if you can't abandon the exercise?

1. Tell the student that you are going to play the tape.
2. Ask them to clap the hands when they hear definite word or expression.

Inserting Adjectives

We describe our feelings and attitude towards everything in life by using adjectives. The right adjective makes the speech more exact while the wrong one may result in misunderstanding. There is a game that demonstrates it better than anything else.

1. Find a story or other interesting text
2. Retype the text with blank spaces where students are to insert adjectives.
3. Ask students to volunteer ideas for descriptive adjectives that might fit the blank spaces.

Alternatively, ask students to supply adjectives without knowing what the context is or what they are describing. They enumerate some adjectives and you write them in. Then read out or display the result at the end.

Guessing The Epithet

Adjectives are often used as epithets in literary language. The more epithets a person knows the better language he or she speaks. We study adjectives in set phrases together with nouns, like 'a wooden table' or 'a square table', as if we don’t care how literary our language is.

1. Ask each student to write down a set of five or so adjective-noun phrases.
2. One of the students starts and tells the others only what the noun is.
3. They then have to guess the entire phrase. For example, if the student gives the noun table, the others might guess its epithet: A shabby table? A dirty table? An orange table?
4. He may need to give hints to facilitate guessing, tell them when they are getting 'warm', and so on.
5. The one who guesses the correct solution gets the next phrase to be guessed.

If you use 'Guessing The Epithet' idea you will not just teach the language, you will teach a good language. Your students will not just express themselves in a language, they will do it beautifully.