I didn’t know that last week

1. Ask the students to remember the events of last week.
2. Tell them to write down the things they didn’t know that were at that moment, would happen, and had happened before, e.g.: Last week I didn’t know that I was pregnant / would marry this summer / had met my future husband.

New rules

1. Divide the class in groups of four. Each group is to create a rule to be followed in their conversation, e.g.: Nobody is allowed to speak before he has scratched his head.
2. Each group gets a topic to discuss and sends one spy to another group. His task is to find out a rule.
3. Each member of the group must speak 3 times in turn upon the topic obeying the rule of his group. Then a spy goes to a different group and so on until he returns to his own and tells his observations.

Finishing conditional sentences

1. Give a sentence using the first conditional, describing one of a number of possible variations, preferably based on personal taste. For example: If I go to France this summer I will visit ... the Eiffel Tower. If I had a million dollars I would buy ... a luxury yacht.
2. Invite students to express their own variations: If I go to France this summer, I will visit the Eiffel Tower. If I go to France this summer, I will visit the Louvre. If I go to France this summer, I will visit the Opera.
3. If the activity is done in full class, students may later try to recall what other students' variations were: If I go to France this summer, I will visit… If feel very hungry this evening, will eat... If I have time next weekend, I will go to… If I have to write a story for homework, I will write about... If you come to my home, you will see ... If I go away on holiday this year ... If I lose all my money... If we get too much homework ... If my friend gets into trouble ... If we finish early today ... I'll eat my hat if ... This school will have to close if ... We will all be very happy if ... I will be rather disappointed if ... Will you help me if …

Random dictionary

1. You need an English monolingual dictionary. You ask the stu­dents to call out any number which falls between the first and last page (e.g. 251). You turn to the page named, then ask for any number between 1 and 20 (e.g. 15). You now look up the fif­teenth headword on the page. If this turns out to be a function word (e.g. a preposition), the next content word on the page (preferably a noun or a verb) is taken. The students write this word down. The procedure is then repeated five times. All students should now have five words chosen at random from the dictionary.
2. They now form groups of four. Each group is to use the words to work out a story line which can be acted as a sketch for another group.


1. Tell the students your scar story. If it is about a scar of yours that is showable, let them see it.
2. Invite the group to think of how they got whatever scars they have. Give them a few minutes to bring their stories back to mind.
3. Ask a volunteer to tell his or her story. Help with words, and write any accident-related vocabulary up on the board, e.g. wound, bandage, stretcher, stitches, operate. Only write up words actually needed by the narrator.
4. Ask three or four more people to tell their scar stories to the whole class, and build up further vocabulary on the board.
5. If the class is a large one, now ask them to work in threes and continue telling scar stories, until everybody who wants to has told one.
6. Pair the students. Each student is silently to imagine a scar story for his or her partner. At this stage, remind them of the words on the board. Discourage them from writing.
7. Each student tells the partner the scar story about him or her.

Add a letter

1. Tell the students that they can form new words by adding or curtailing a word, e.g.: mile – smile.
2. Ask them to form as many new words as they can for 1 minute.

Things in common

1. Put students in pairs, tell them to talk to each other and try to find as many things as they can in common with one another in three minutes. These should not include things they can find out just by looking at one another, e.g. that they both have blue eyes or are wearing jeans; nor should they include more than two things beginning 'We both like...’ or ‘Neither of us…’
2. They should write down the things they find out they have in common in full sentences: We both have two brothers. Neither of us likes reading detective stories.
3. Then ask the pairs to describe their common features. Which pair found most?

I remember

1. Tell the students about an accident or an illness, starting most of your sentences with: I remember... ing...
2. Put these sentence starters up on the board: I think I remember ... ing; I'll never forget ... ing; I remember . . ing my...; I don't clearly remember … ing.
3. Ask the students to think back to an accident or illness of theirs and write half a dozen 'remember' and 'forget' sentences. Get the students to tell their stories.


1. Write a word on the blackboard.
2. Students should write SMS beginning each word with a letter from the word you wrote.

Mime your past

1. Ask students to prepare to do a mime based on some past experience.
2. One of the students does the mime, stopping after each action. Ask the other students to say what s/he did. Here they may be trying to describe something that is clear to them, or they may be hypothesizing about what the student intended to convey.
3. Pair the students and get A to mime the incident to B. Go round helping anyone who is stuck for words.
4. Now ask B to replay orally the scene described by A.

On the tape

1. One student goes out of the room.
2. The teacher records voices of other students on the tape.
3. The student comes into the room and tries to recognize each voice on the tape.

Eatable vs. uneatable

1. The teacher asks questions, such as: Can we eat a hotdog? Can we eat a dog? etc.
2. Student answer: Yes, we can? No, we can’t.

Phonemic bingo

1. Write the phonemic symbols of vowels at the blackboard.
2. Ask the students to draw a 4 X 4 grid. Then they choose a different phonemic symbol to put in each of the sixteen squares.
3. Dictate a set of words with different phonemic symbols. Students are to write the words into appropriate squares.
4. The first student to complete the grid wins.

My thingumajig

1. The teacher explains that the students must guess the name of an object by making questions about how the object is used, using can. Because they cannot use the name of an object, this is substituted by thingumajig.
2. As an example the teacher gives a good student the name of an object. Then he asks prompt questions, helping the other students to question and guess at the word, e.g. Teacher: Can you eat a thingumajig? Student: No, you can't. Teacher: Can people use a thingumajig at work? Student: Yes, they can. Teacher: Can you wear a thingumajig? Student: No, you can't.
3. The student who guesses correctly takes the next turn.

Letter by letter

1. Player A says a letter. Player B thinks of a word beginning with A's letter and says its second letter. C thinks of a word beginning with the two letters already given and says its third letter, and so on round the circle.
2. The person who, in saying a letter, completes a word, loses and must drop out (or lose a life). If a player, on his/her turn, thinks that the combination offered so far cannot lead to a word, s/he may challenge the previous player to say the word s/he is thinking of: if there is no such word, that player loses a life, otherwise the challenger is penalized.
3. The game continues until only one player is left. For example: A: d - B: 0 (-dog) - C: l (-dole) - D: l (~ dollar) - E: That's a word! - D: loses a life.

Mind your ear

1. Ask your students to write down the words with a particular sound, e.g.: [e]
2. Dictate a set of different words including those with sound [e].

Selling freezers to Eskimos

Use the word of an object to challenge the student to 'sell' it to the class by arguing why they really need it. This activity can be done seriously or humorously

Guess the word

1. Form groups of roughly equal numbers. Try and keep the groups as far away from each other as possible. Explain that one member of each group will be given the name of a device of some kind. He will then return to his group who will ask him yes/no questions about what it is used for, when it is used, how it works etc.
2. Ask one member of each group to come up to you. Take one card and show it to them. Without speaking, they must return not to their own groups and reply to the questions with yes/no answers.
3. The first group to guess the names of the device is the winner.