1. Prepare a pile of smallish pictures depicting objects, animals, scenes. You can use simple drawings; but color photographs cut out of magazines are better.
2. Spread the pictures on a table in the middle of the class-room, and invite each student to choose one that arouses some kind of definite positive or negative reaction in him or her.
3. Then invite each to show his or her picture and say whether he or she likes it or not, and why. Start the ball rolling yourself: I like this picture of a dog - I love dogs, and this one reminds me of our own dog at home.

Whose is this?

1. The teacher asks up to 10 students to lend him something: a scarf, a pair of gloves, 2 books, a bag, pen, shoe, etc. He then chooses 1 or 2 objects and asks Whose is this? or Whose are these?
2. To control the answering, the teacher can point at or name the student he wants to answer the question, producing (depending on the situation): It's mine. They're mine. It's Anna's. They're hers. It's his. It's theirs.
3. After 1 or 2 questions a student can take over the teacher's role.

Find the pair

1. Prepare some two-line dialogues with each line on a separate card.
2. Distribute the cards.
3. First student reads the line on his card. If a student thinks that his line matches with the line of the first student he reads his card.


1. Give the students a series of exclamations ('Oh!', 'Ah!', 'Great!', etc.), and ask them what they think has just happened to make the speaker say them. For example, 'Oh!' might mean that: She has had a surprise. or: He has just remembered something.
2. They might brainstorm their ideas orally, or write them down. If possible, record the exclamations, or say them, rather than giving them in writing; this gives the extra dimension of intonation, and makes the meaning clearer.

Bad luck!
Thank you!
Stop it!
No, thank you!
Thank goodness!
Touch wood!
My God!
Good luck!
Oh dear!

Adjectives and nouns

1. Students suggest adjective-noun phrases, for example, 'a black cat', 'an expert doctor', etc. Contribute some yourself. As the phrases are suggested, write the adjectives in a column down the left-hand side of the board, and the nouns on the right-hand side, so you will get something like this:

A smart \ cat
A poor \ student

2. Then they volunteer ideas for different combinations, for example 'a smart student', and you draw a line to join the two words. See how many the class can make. If someone suggests an unusual or strange combination, they have to justify it – can you justify 'a poor cat', for example?

What am I doing?

1. Tell the students that you are going to imagine yourself being somewhere else and doing something else.
2. Students try to guess, e.g. You are drinking beer in the pub.

Sensory styles

1. Write down on the blackboard: 0 = can't at all; 1 = hardly; 2 = pretty good; 3 = easily.
2. Tell the students that you are going to test how they recollect their memories.
3. Read all three columns and ask some students at random.

__SEE wallpaper in your room
__SEE a kangaroo
__SEE your front door
__SEE your toothbrush
__SEE a friend's face
__SEE a plate of food
__SEE a TV show
__SEE your hairdo
__SEE a smiling cat
__WATCH the TV scene change

__HEAR a shot
__HEAR sounds of the waves
__HEAR a horse's laugh
__HEAR your favourite song
__HEAR rain
__HEAR a fire alarm
__HEAR a friend's voice
__HEAR your own voice
__HEAR birds singing...
__HEAR the birdsong change to a call of alarm

__FEEL yourself angry
__FEEL your feet in cold water
__FEEL hot potato in your mouth
__FEEL excited
__FEEL yourself swimming
__FEEL grass under your feet
__FEEL a cat on your lap
__FEEL the key, while opening the door
__FEEL your fingers on a piano keyboard
__FEEL your fingers playing a few notes

4. When you've done the test add up your scores for each sense: SEE ___; HEAR ___; FEEL ___

Guess who?

1. Give each of your students a piece of paper and ask them to write four facts about themselves. These can be anything they choose, e.g. I was born in February, I own a bicycle, I like Beethoven, etc. as long as the statement is true.
2. Collect their pieces of paper together and then redistribute them so that each student has personal information about another student.
3. Students turn the statements into questions, and then ask other students those questions.
4. The activity ends when everybody has found out whose personal information they have.

Words my neighbor knows

1. Divide the class into pairs. The partners must not communicate at this stage.
2. Ask each student to write a list of ten words which their partner
a. should know;
b. should know but doesn't;
c. definitely doesn't know.
3. Then ask the pairs to check out the accuracy of the predictions.

Guessing mimes

1. Teacher tells a student a simple instruction, for example: You are watching tennis,
2. The student mimes this. The teacher then asks a series of guessing questions to show the other students what is required, e.g. Are you watching football? Are you crossing the road? The person doing the mime can only give Yes/No answers.
3. Now the teacher gives out cards or tells the instructions to a volunteer to mime before the class. If students cannot guess within 5 questions the presenter wins a point.
4. Here is a set of simple mimes:
- You are opening a tin.
- You are watching tennis.
- You are crossing the road.
- You are taking a shower.
- You are riding a horse.
- You are moving the furniture.
- You are working with Xerox.
- You are taking an exam.
- You are watching a comedy on television.
- You are changing a car/bicycle wheel.
- You are dancing tango.
- You are climbing mountains.
5. Next set of cards with more complex actions:
- blowing into a bag for a police breath-test
- taking photos of yourself in an automatic machine
- a lion-tamer, putting your head into the lion's mouth
- in a crowded bus, trying to read someone's newspaper
- a film director, showing the hero and heroine how to kiss
- lying in bed, in the dark, trying to switch off an alarm-clock
- trying to keep awake during a boring lecture
- an Egyptian belly-dancer in a night-club
- the Mona Lisa, sitting for her portrait
- blowing out the candles on birthday cake
- a parachutist, getting ready to jump
- a discus thrower, getting ready to throw

Turn out somebody's pockets

1. Ask each student to list the contents of the pockets or handbag of an imaginary person: they should list 10-12 objects.
2. Get them to exchange lists: each person then writes a thumb-nail sketch of the imaginary person whose list they have.
3. Ask them to stick the word lists and descriptions around the walls so that everyone can read them.

What letter is after

1. Divide the students in two teams.
2. Ask each team questions like: What is the letter before Z or What is the letter after I?
3. The team that makes less mistakes wins.


1. Write on the board the following: Where they were... What did they do... What happened then...
2. Give each pair of students two cards. Ask them to write on separate cards the names of two famous people, one male and one female. Explain that these two people do not need to be connected in any way.
3. Collect the male cards and shuffle. Give one to each pair. Collect the female cards and shuffle. Give one to each pair. Explain that each pair is going to write a short article about these two people for a gossip column.

Me before

1. Ask the students to write 5 things on a piece of paper that they did between the ages of 10 and 15. If you are teaching younger people get them to write about an earlier time in their life, e.g. from 5-10, or write statements about a weekend or holiday.
2. Collect all the papers and redistribute them making sure that nobody gets her/his own.
3. Ask the students to mill. They ask each other questions about the statements they have in order to find the writer.
4. When the students have found the owner of the paper they can talk to each other long and fill in any details or give further information as they wish.

Adjective match

1. The teacher thinks of an adjective; the aim is for the class to guess it. The teacher gives as a prompt a noun which the adjective could describe. Students make 2 or 3 guesses at the adjective, using it with the noun. If the do not guess correctly the teacher provides a further noun prompt and elicits further guesses. With each additional noun prompt, the choice of adjective becomes narrower, as each previous noun must be kept in the mind, e.g. teacher's word flat:
Teacher: (prompting) Table.
Student 1: (guessing) A square table?
Teacher: No.
Student 2: (guessing) A wooden table?
Teacher: No.
Student 3: (guessing) A round table?
Teacher: No. (prompting) Road.
Student 4: (guessing) A straight road?
Teacher: No.
Student 5: (guessing) A level road?
Teacher: No, but very near.
2. After the initial teacher/student phase, the game can be played by students in pairs or groups. The students choose their own words, or are given words by the teacher so that their collocation practice is guided.

Erasing words

1. Write on the board about ten words which are difficult to spell, and give the class a minute to 'photograph' them.
2. Point to one word, then erase it; the students write it down from memory. And so on, until the words have been erased. Check the spelling.


1. The class is divided in two teams. On the right and left side of the blackboard equal sets of numbers are written.
2. Teacher calls out numbers and representatives of both the teams have to cross them off.
3. The winner is the quickest team to cross the numbers out.

May I...?

1. Ask the student to write some questions to you about their rights at the lesson. Ex.: May I smoke at the lesson?
2. Answer the questions: Yes, you may. No, you may not.

Tail to head

1. Student A thinks of a word and says it;
2. Student B has to find a word beginning with the last sound of Student A's word, e.g. edge - join -noisy - evil - look - catch - cheese.


1. Divide the class in two teams. Two students from each team are judges. They get lists with a story and go to another team.
2. All the members of the teams except for one student from each leave the classroom.
3. The judges tell the story to those two who stayed in the classroom.
4. These students try to remember the story and retell it to those two who are invited from the corridor, and so on until all members are in the classroom. The judges must note the mistakes and missing parts of the story while students are retelling.
5. Then judges announce the results of the competition.

Hidden sentence

1. The class is divided in two teams. Each team sends a representative to sit in front of the class.
2. Each of them gets a card with a sentence. Teacher presents a topic. Players start a conversation. They must use their sentences for nobody to notice them in their speech.
3. When teams think they recognize the sentences they shout stop.
4. Each time the team is right, it scores a point.

I say, you said, he said

1. The students work in groups of three. One person (A) tells about an incident in his or her life (a recent event, or a particularly interesting memory). The second person (B) listens carefully, taking notes if necessary.
2. When A has finished, B has to retell the story as accurately as possible. When B has finished, it is the turn of C to correct any errors of fact or omissions which B may have made. Each person (A, B, and C) has a turn in each role.

I have been studying here...

1. Ask each student to write in their notebook four to six (true) facts about themselves in the present progressive tense; for example: I am feeling tired.
2. Then give out slips of paper, and tell students to write on each slip one such present perfect progressive sentence for each of their own sentences. I have been feeling tired since I got up this morning.
3. Ask the students to guess who wrote it - if they have no idea, they should make a random guess anyway; and write down what they think.


1. Choose a dialogue consisting of two short sentences expressing disagreement. E.g.: - The answer is no! - But why?
2. Allow students to improvise variations or a continuation, developing the exercise into a conversation.

Turn out your pockets

1. Ask the students to list some or all of the objects in their handbags/wallets/pockets: ask the class to write their lists clearly.
2. When the lists are ready, ask the students to fold them and give them to you. Shuffle the lists and let each student pick one at random. No student should end up with his or her own list.
3. Ask the students to guess whose list they have and to tell the class why.

Theme music

1. Play the class a recording of classical music, chosen according to your own taste, and tell them this is the theme music of a movie. Can they imagine what kind of movie it is, and what sort of plot it has?
2. They need not write down an entire story, but should note down some details of a action that seems to them to fit the music: A young lady is waiting for her prince on the white horse... She is sitting at the window and looking at the horizon...

What might you do with it?

1. One or two students stand with their backs to the board; they are the guessers.
2. You write on the board the name of a well-known household object: a pencil, a cup etc.
3. The rest of the class help the guessers to find out what the object is by suggesting things they might do with it. They should use their imaginations, and not give away the answer by suggesting the obvious use – at least, not immediately! For example, if the object is a pencil, they could say things like: I might scratch my head with it.

Who is the quickest

1. Take a paragraph from a book you study and second hand watch.
2. Ask each student to read the paragraph as quick as possible.


1. Select a scene and time for a crime say, a bank robbery, at a well-known bank in the middle of town, at 11 o'clock yesterday.
2. Two students are the 'suspects' - they are sent outside and instructed to prepare an 'alibi' for one another. This means they have to invent and be prepared to describe a situation during the period of the crime.
3. The rest of the class in groups prepares 10 questions to confuse the 'suspects'.
4. Then 'suspects' come to different groups to prove their alibi, the class tries to catch them in lie.

Match the adjectives

1. Write three adjectives on the board, e.g. important, dangerous, heavy.
2. Ask the students to suggest things which could be described by all three adjectives.

Others do it for me

1. Ask students round the class these questions: When? Why? Why not? Do you like to cook for yourself? Do you like to be cooked for? Do you like to read for yourself? Do you like to be read to? Do you like to give yourself things? Do you like to be given things?
2. Pair the students. Ask them to work together and figure out actions they sometimes like to do and sometimes like others to do for them, e.g.: I like to drive when... / I like to be driven when... They should write their sentences down.
3. Get them tell others their sentences and discuss them.

Lie detector

1. One of the students leaves the classroom. The rest of the class prepares questions to him.
2. When he or she comes in they ask him their questions, and he can tell only one lie as a reply.
3. The group has to decide when he told the lie.

Writing as another

1. Put the students into groups of 4 and then ask them to write individually a sentence about something they did in the past, for example as a child, during their last holiday, or even the previous weekend, e.g.: I visited friends, I wrote poetry etc.
2. Tell the students to pass their paper to another member of the group.
3. Each student reads the sentence passed to her/him and underneath writes 10 questions about it, e.g.: How long did you stay with your friends? Did you eat with them? etc.
4. Ask the students to pass the paper to another member of the group and she then responds to the questions, inventing the answers.
5. The 10 questions and answers are passed on a third time and the task is now to write a short passage using the information from the questions and answers.
6. Ask the students to pass the passage back to the writers of the original sentences. They read them and comment on how near the passage is to the original experience.

What have I been doing?

1. The teacher explains that the students have to guess what the teacher has been doing from a description of his appearance. The activity is not revealed but clues are given in the description, e.g. Teacher: I'm wearing blue shorts. Student: Have you been playing football? Teacher: No, I haven't. I'm carrying a racquet. Student: Have you been playing tennis? Teacher: Yes, I have.
2. The students are only allowed 10 No answers before the teacher wins. To help the students the teacher can put simple questions on the board as prompts.
3. A student then takes the part of the teacher and describes his own appearance. This can also be done in small groups.
4. To help students with ideas and language the teacher can prepare cards with an activity written on each. The cards can also contain a few notes, e.g. You have been cooking. There is flour on your clothes. Your fingers smell of onions, sleeves are rolled up.

How many things can you think of that...?

1. In groups, students try to think of and note down as many things as they can that fit a given definition and that they know in English. For instance, you might tell them to think of as many items as they can that are small enough to fit into a matchbox/are bigger than you/are round/make noise/work on electricity/people enjoy looking at/etc.
2. After two or three minutes, poor all the ideas on the board, or have a competition to see which group can think of the most items.

How are you really?

1. Explain that student doesn’t learn anything from conventional exchange, as: "How are you? - Fine."
2. Ask them to rate their states of affairs from 1 to 10, mentioning that 1 is "I almost want to die" and 10 is "I won one million dollars" or "I'm in love with a person, and s/he has just told me that s/he feels the same".
3. When all of the students answered "How are you really?" question, ask if somebody wants to share why s/he has chosen the definite number.

Cooperative story

1. Give each student a large blank sheet of paper, and the title of a story, which should include the names of a hero and heroine - say Cliff and Sabrina.
2. Each student writes the title and the first sentence of the story, and passes the paper to a neighbour. The neighbour writes the next sentence in the story, and folds the paper over to hide the title and first sentence, leaving only his or her own sentence exposed; so the next student to get the story will only see the last sentence. And so on, each student contributing a sentence and folding the paper over to hide what went before, before passing it on.
3. When you (or the class) have had enough, or the papers are full, open them up and read out the resulting stories.

Draw and describe

1. Silently draw a simple picture of a small house in the centre of the blackboard. Pass the chalk to a student, and indicate that they should add something to the picture. In turn, every student in the class is then given an opportunity to contribute to the drawing, which should help to get them personally involved in the following language activity.
2. When the picture is complete, begin to elicit language. Begin with simple questions such as 'What is it?' and 'What is happening here?' to describe explicit points about the picture. If the class is sufficiently good, you can then go on to more complicated questions, such as 'What do you think has just happened?', or 'What is going to happen next?', or 'Why is that happening?'. Together; these questions should be sufficient to produce enough language to give the teacher quite a good idea of the ability of the students.

Silent story

1. A student recalls a story that happened to him.
2. He or she displays it before the class without saying a word.
3. Next student tries to guess the message and to rebuild this monologue orally.

Recall the plot

1. Tell the students about a film you have seen or a book you have read recently: recount the plot briefly, in the present simple. Get one or two of the students to do the same.
2. Then ask students to write an essay recommending to you a film or book that they have found particularly good; the essay should include a resume of the plot.

Experiences I haven't had

1. Give the students these two patterns: I've never / I haven't yet
2. Head the left hand side of board: Good experience I haven't had and the right hand side of the board: Bad experiences I haven't had. Ask for two 'secretaries' to come and write at the hoard
3. Tell the group to shout out good or bad experiences they haven't had, making full sentences. Each student should speedy which category she wants her sentence to go into. For some 'I haven't got married' is left hand side, for some right hand side! Let the students fill the hoard with their present perfect sentences.

My names

1. Using the pattern: I'm / I was / I used to be called... by... when... and tell the students half a dozen names you are or have been known by, e.g.: 'I was called Mariolino by my father when he was feeling affectionate.'
2. Ask the students to write down as many sentences as they can using the above pattern, listing as many of their names and nicknames as they are willing to share with others.
3. Get the students read their sentences to the rest of the class and explain the contexts of the names.


1. One volunteer is the detective and goes outside. You give a coin to one of the students in the class to hide on their person - he or she is the thief.
2. The detective returns and accuses any member of the class: 'Did you take the money?' The accused, whether guilty or innocent, answers, 'No, I didn’t take the money, X (names one of the others) took it.' The detective then accuses X, using the same formula as before, and so on, until ten or fifteen people have been accused. The detective watches the accused people and has to try to 'detect' by their behaviour, which one is lying. Give him or her three 'guesses'.


1. Tell the students the following themes: Romance; Money; Work; Family; Home; Leisure.
2. Ask each student is to write on separate cards three optimistic predictions and three pessimistic ones, all of which should refer to one of the theme and the deadline. e.g. By the end of the week you'll have meet the most beautiful boy/girl you have ever seen.
3. Collect the cards and shuffle them in a box. Students take the cards out of the box and read them aloud.

Predicting achievements

1. Tell the students to invent for themselves an extremely successful future career in whatever field they like. Give them a minute or two to imagine what kinds of things they will achieve, and to ask you for new vocabulary where needed.
2. They may jot down ideas in writing, and should also note at what age they will have their different successes.
3. Then ask them to tell each other (possibly in groups) what they will have done by the age of 30, then by the age of 50, then by the age of 70 (if your students are over 30, adapt ages accordingly).

Family modals

1. As homework ask students to collect oft-repeated parental utterances.
2. If they are school students living at home ask them to bring a short list of negative parent sentences, things like 'John, you really should tidy your room'. If they are adults ask them to think back to their childhood, or to think of things they say to their own kids over and over again.
3. In class ask the students to write up three or four of their sentences on the board.
4. Other students try to guess who used the sentence to whom, and the whole context.
5. After they have guessed the students that wrote the sentences are welcomed to act out the utterances and their context.

Your students' rules

1. Ask the students to imagine themselves as teachers.
2. Tell them to write 5 rules they would want their students to obey.


1. Ask students to create examples upon these models: Rabbit's tail (part of smth.); Uncle's aunt (possession)
2. One student should tell a noun and the other student should create an expression according to one of examples.

Oral close

1. Read a story or prose passage, which can be from your course book.
2. Stop occasionally before a key word and get the students to guess what it is going to be: they can either volunteer the word orally, or write it down.
3. If the passage is one they have worked on recently, this can function as a review exercise of key vocabulary.

Short story writing

1. Each learner writes the title and first three sentences of his short story on a sheet of paper.
2. Then he or she passes the sheet to the next learner whose task is to continue writing and pass the sheet to the next learner and so on.
3. The author of the story finishes it.

Silent speech

1. In order to focus on pronunciation and the contribution of mouth movement, list on the board words, which will illustrate the various sounds, you would like to concentrate on.
2. Tell the class to listen as carefully as they can and then, when you have the students' full attention, 'mouth' a word silently! The students should try to identify the word by carefully watching the movement of your mouth. Ask the students to 'mouth' words for each other derived from the list of words on the board.

Five favourite words

1. Students look through their exercise books and select from the words that they have recently learned five words that they particularly like. They write these down. Then they form pairs.
2. Together they negotiate a common list of five words from the ten they had originally. They can use whatever criteria they like to argue for or against words. It might be the shape, sound, association, or relevance of the word for them.
3. Collect the pieces of paper and redistribute them so that each pair receives a different list. The pairs now write a dialogue or short story incorporating the words on the list they have just received.
4. Students read out their dialogues or stories and the others, with the exception of the authors of the list on which it was based, try to guess what the five listed words were.


1. The class is divided in two teams. One team prepares list of advantages, another - disadvantages.
2. Propositions for brainstorming advantages and disadvantages: Smoking should be banned. Water should be rationed. Soft drugs should be made legal. TV should be banned for under-16s. All cars should run on electricity. Unhealthy food should be taxed. Everyone should use the same currency. Parents should need a 'child licence'. Students should be able to 'sack' teachers.

Then and now

1. Discuss with students how they remember their childhood. Happier and freer than now? Or the opposite? Then ask them to write down four lists of differences between: 1. What they could do then, but can't (or mustn't) do now; 2 What they couldn't I weren't able to do then, but can now; 3. What they had to do then but don't have to do now; 4. What they didn't have to do then, but must now.
2. After 10 or 15 minutes of writing (you may need to help with some new vocabulary), ask them to read out some of the things they have; or they may share their ideas in groups before reporting to the full class. Finally, try to reach some overall conclusions; do these fit the impressions given in the opening discussion?
3. The same exercise may be used to practise the quasi-modal used to: students can contrast what they used to do as young children with what they no longer do.


1. Choose a group of two or three 'storytellers'. These can be swapped during the course of the activity to give everyone a chance to narrate. The rest of the class act as 'performers'. Give the storytellers the beginning of a story. For example: 'John had been waiting for Rachel for an hour.'
2. As you say this, choose a 'John' from the assembled performers. He mimes waiting and impatience.
3. The storytellers now continue the story a sentence at a time, and see it performed in front of them by the rest of the class. This creation of a visual aspect of their story should act as a stimulus for imaginative language use.