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.