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.


Picture Introduction

This can be used in the very first lesson or at any point in time, really.

  1. Choose a few photos that represent something about yourself. Mine are: a chicken, the Golden Arches, a group of school kids in Japan, a mountain in Arizona, a diving mask.
  2. Put the pictures on the board (or if you have a projector, project them all) so everyone can see them all at once. Alternatively, if they are smaller, give each pair a photo which they will pass around.
  3. Tell the learners: These photos represent a part of my life in the past or present. Brainstorm with your partner what you think the connection is.
  4. Give the learners enough time, usually 10 minutes to brainstorm what they think the connection is.
  5. As a whole class ask for ideas. What is the connection to the chicken? Groups might say: Do you love to eat chicken? Do you have a pet chicken? etc. If they guess it you could give them a point. If not, give little tips like: There is a connection to one of my past jobs, until they discover the story (I worked on a chicken farm for 2 years. It was my first job. I didn’t like it and on a side note, I am now a vegetarian.).
  6. Continue playing until all the stories have been discovered.
  7. Depending on the size of the class you can ask them to show a picture (just google image search) that represents something about themselves the others don’t know. If the group is large, have them do it in small groups or pairs. If the group is small, do it as a whole class. Alternative: as homework they should bring in 3 pictures (these do not have to be pictures of themselves! They can use “stock” photos to represent the concept).

For 1-1 training this can also be used. Just ask directly: What do you think the connection is? Follow up by bouncing it back to the learner. What about you? Have you ever worked with animals? Tell me about it.

Phone Pic Show and Tell

This is good for all levels and they learn not only new vocabulary when they need it but new things about their classmates.

1. Choose a photo from your phone.

2. Encourage the learners to find out as much as possible about the photo (where was it, who is in it, what are those things in the background etc.).  Feed them new vocabulary immediately as they need it (board it).  Let them “get the story”.  Clearly, selfies are not as fun as an abstract or unusual shot.

3. Have the learners show a photo from their phone and repeat.

If you have too many in the group you could either do this in pairs or have one or two people present a photo every week.

1-1: This works well in 1-1 lessons as described above.

Pictures for Describing People

Pictures for Describing People

This one is not by any means revolutionary, but is a tried and tested activity and pretty darn effective at practicing vocabulary about how people look.

  1. After you have introduced vocabulary to describe people, spread out many photos of different people on the table (or put many on an A4 page and print for each participant).
  2. Next, I choose one of the photos (but don’t disclose this to the participants) and describe the person. They all listen and look at the photos. The first one to guess is the next person to describe.
  3. Continue until everyone has had a chance.

1-1: This works perfectly for 1-1 lessons.

Who Is It?

Who Is It?

There are two versions of this exercise which is good for elementary-intermediate learners. You may need to preteach some vocabulary such as politician, musician, actor etc.

Version 1

  1. Distribute photos of very famous people from different countries (one per participant). Alternatively, give the participants a name on a piece of paper or ask them to google a very famous person (using English wikipedia or imdb etc).
  2. Participants write 5-10 sentences about the person on a piece of paper.
    1. This person speaks German
    2. This person comes from Austria.
    3. This person is a man.
    4. He lives in California now.
  3. After everyone has written some simple sentences about the person, have them in pairs (or if it is a small group as a whole class) read the clues they have written until somebody guesses who the person is.

Version 2

  1. Distribute photos of very famous people from different countries (one per participant). Alternatively, give the participants a name on a piece of paper or ask them to google a very famous person (using English wikipedia or imdb etc).
  2. Put the participants in pairs and have them ask yes/no questions until they guess the person in the picture. For example:
    1. Is it a man?
    2. Does he live in England?
    3. Is he…

Version 2 is good for higher levels whereas Version 1 is better for lower levels.

As a follow-up you can have the participants prepare a little text about someone in their family and they bring the photo in the next lesson (you, too!). Lay all the photos in a jumbled order on the table and have the participants read their descriptions while the others listen and try to identify which photo is the person being described.