What Would You Have Done?

This one is perfect for the third conditional and mixed conditionals at the B2-C2 levels. I use it for free practice after we have formally presented and done the 3rd conditional in controlled practice.

  1. Send one learner out of the room. Ask the remaining learners to choose an unusual event such as: The room was painted neon green, the president of the country invited everyone to dinner, a mouse was in the room etc.
  2. Call the learner from outside back in. This learner should ask questions to find out what happened. The questions should be formulated as such: “What would you have done, if this had actually happened?” or “Would you have been happy, if this had actually happened?” etc. (but in the 3rd conditional). Encourage the learners to answer in full sentences: “If this had happened, I would have jumped for joy.” “I would have run out of the room, if this had actually happened.”
  3. After the asker has asked everyone a question, they can try to guess what the event was.

NB: other conditionals could be used as well: If this had happened, would you still be sitting in this room now? etc.

1-1 This can be used for 1-1 lessons, but instead, use a stack of cards with events on them and the trainer/learner takes one and answers questions based on that event. Swap and repeat.


Find the Clues

This is good for prepositions and the imperative at the A1-B1 levels.

  1. Choose a short story or easy joke. Type it and cut it into strips. You can decide how many strips but 5-10 is usually good. Hide/tape the strips in various places in the room (or if the learners are allowed to leave the room, hide them in places near the room outside). Write clues on the slips as you hide them. For example: Go to the window and look under the sill for #2. Walk to the door and open it. Look over the door to find #3 etc.
  2. Put the learners in pairs and explain they are going to look for the clues. NB you should have enough stories/jokes/texts for each pair! Otherwise they would all run to the same place at the same time.
  3. Once they have all the parts, they should go back to their desks and write it out (or glue/tape it together if it is a longer text).

1-1: This exercise can work for 1-1 lessons as described with the learner doing it alone.

Present Perfect Scene

This is a good exercise to introduce the present perfect simple for recently completed events. It’s best at the B2-C1 level.

  1. Choose two version of the same scene (google: find the difference images) or draw two simple versions of a house/office etc.
  2. Show the class the first picture and elicit what needs to be repaired, replaced or what other work needs to be done (the lawn needs to be mowed etc.).
  3. Then take the first image away and show the second where several things have changed (very recently). Elicit the changes by asking “What work has been done?”. TIP: you may want to include a person in the picture and give them a name. Elicit: “Thomas has mowed the lawn.” etc. OR you can focus on passive. Learners may need some prompting to come up with “The lawn has been mowed, The window has been repaired”.
  4. At some point they may ask questions about the form. Board the form using an example from the picture. Elicit the meaning and use through Concept Checking Questions.

Follow-up: As home practice have the learners find or draw two images. Ask them to write 10 true/false questions about picture B. When they bring them to class, they show the first picture for 1 minute. Then remove picture 1, then show picture 2 for 1 minute and then remove it. Then they quiz their classmates with their T/F questions (awarding points for each correct answer).

1-1: The activity works well for 1-1 as described above.

Shapes & Designs & Descriptions

This is a very simple but effective exercise to practice anything from shapes and patterns to people and homes or even for prepositions.

  1. After introducing the target vocabulary, have the learners work in pairs. Each will need 2 pieces of paper.
  2. Tell them to draw the thing they should describe (if you are just practicing shapes, make them draw shapes of different sizes in different places on their paper, they can overlap or be inside each other etc.). They should work in a way so their partner can not see. Alternatively, you can draw and photocopy designs and give them to the pairs.
  3. Now they have to describe it to their partner who draws what they hear. You may need to give more language like: in the top right corner/bottom left corner etc.
  4. Then they compare the pictures.
  5. Repeat with the other partner describing.

1-1: This works well in 1-1 as described above with the trainer as one of the partners.

Comparison Drawings

This activity is good freer practice for A1-A2 levels especially when teaching comparatives and/or superlatives.

  1. Find/draw and print images of three things that are similar, e.g. 2/3 cartoon rabbits, flowers, people, vehicles etc. Print the three images on one page. NB use 2 for comparative and 3 for superlative.
  2. Put the learners in pairs. Explain that one partner will have 2/3 images. This partner will not show the images to their partner, but will describe the images. The other partner should draw what they hear. They can also ask questions. NB For lower levels I elicit the formula before the activity:
    1. 1 syllable adjective + er
    2. 2 syllable adjective with y = ier
    3. more + 2 syllable or more adjectives
    4. For higher levels add the superlatives and even “not as… as” etc.
  3. Allow the learners to begin. Circle and help with vocabulary and grammar as necessary.
  4. When finished have the learners compare the originals to the drawings.
  5. If there is time you can swap roles (though usually one round is OK for this activity)

1-1: Use as above. The trainer is the describer. Otherwise, get the learner to quickly draw 2/3 images and then describe them to the trainer.

Reading Review

I usually use this exercise for A1-B1 levels. It aims to check not only comprehension and grammar but also memory.

  1. After learners have read a text (as homework or in class). Divide the texts into sections and assign one section to groups/pairs. For example, if the text has 12 paragraphs and you have 9 learners, create 3 groups and assign 4 paragraphs per group.
  2. Give the learners scrap paper (A4 cut in 4 is fine). Tell them to write one question about their part of the text on each slip of paper. You can decide how many slips to give each group, depending on the length of the text. The questions can be open or closed, but should not be opinion questions. Example of OK questions: When was X invented? Where did… How did… Did X patent the invention right away? etc. The trainer should circle and help with grammar as needed.
  3. Then have them fold the questions and throw them into the center of the table.
  4. Once all the questions have been written, tell them that each team is going to take a question and has 20 seconds to answer it. They will get 1 point if the content is correct and 1 point if the grammar is correct. Keep track on the board.
  5. The winning team is the team with the most points.

This is great for lower levels because it a) gives them the chance to review the text and make sure they really understood in a way that they feel safe, b) it reviews the asking and answering of questions which learners at this level still have trouble with. Even if they get a question they wrote, they have to actually answer it, so it’s OK.

1-1: This exercise can be adapted for 1-1 but then the trainer is one team and the learner is one team, which means the trainer can not check the grammar of the questions before they go in the center (but that’s OK).

Guess who I am

This one is a very simple exercise perfect for A1-A2 level learners.

  1. After you have introduced and practiced the verb “be” and some other basic verbs, tell the learners they are going to describe a famous person. They should use simple sentences like: I am a man. I come from Austria. I have big arms. I live in California. I am a movie star. I am a politician. (answer: Arnold Schwartzenegger)
  2. As the learners are writing their clues, circle and help when needed.
  3. Then in small groups (or as a whole class) have the learners read their clues one by one. I usually have them read the most vague clues first. The others should guess who the person is.

There is no “winner” but this is a great confidence boaster and they usually enjoy this exercise.

1-1: Do the exercise as above. You can also have the learner write 2 or 3 descriptions as home practice (and you do the same).