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.