A variety of speaking exercises and pair work to help you on your travels.
Booking a hotel room
adjoining rooms– rooms next to each other
amenities– services, shops, transport
bed and breakfast – small hotel or a room in someone’s house.
complimentary breakfast– free, included in the price.
Deposit – money paid in advance
High season / low season– popular times
housekeeping– cleaning staff
late charge– extra fee for not checking out on time.
Rate– the fee per room per night, per person.
vending machine – machine that sells snacks, drinks.
You are going to Bangkok and need to book a hotel. What questions would you have ?
How much is the rate for 4 people ? What time is check-in / out ?
Could I book adjoining rooms ? What is in the area ?
Where exactly is the hotel ?
How do we get to the hotel from the airport ?
Approximately how much is the taxi ?
Make a list.
Take turns being a tourist and working on front desk / booking.
Language to use:
Receptionist: Greet the guest / Ask for ID (passport, ID card). Check how many nights the guest(s) are staying / Ask to see booking confirmation /
What else could you ask ?
Guest: Explain you have a reservation / Present ID and booking confirmation. Ask about amenities in the hotel and what to see in the local area.
You could check if the hotel has a laundry service // can they book a taxi ? / do they organise tours ? Are there vegetarian restaurants in the area, or banks, money exchange, hairdressers ? What else could you need ?
Now … your experiences:
What was your favourite hotel room and why ?
Conversely, what was your worst room ?
What was bad about it ? In what way were you disappointed ?
How did the service excel ? Was it good value for money ?
Would you strongly recommend it ?
How did you find the staff ? Was it easy to get to ?
I’ve spent so much time reading books about classroom activities, looking at websites and blogs only to reject the vast majority as not being suitable for my level of students. Here are a couple of games that have been successful over the years, in different centres and with different ages, though I usually employ them with students aged between 6 and 10. Adapt them as you wish, and have fun.
This is based on the old paper and pencil game (later upgraded for the electronic and computer age).
Board a grid as above (add more cells as required). Put the class into teams.
[I let them choose their own names, and if a student says, ‘Errrrrr,” then that’s the name I give them … additionally, this always gets a laugh]
Ask the teams questions based on previous lessons, general knowledge, whatever suits your class. You could either elicit an answer from the team as a whole, or individual members.
If the student answers correctly, they are allowed to choose a cell, example “C3.” On a separate sheet, have the same grid with scores assigned to each square. In the example that follows, C3 would score 25 points.
The following questions were used to review past tense grammar, as well as forming collocations:
Put the sentences into the past tense (simple past). Say complete sentence.
1 Last week we learn about technology
2 I buy a new iPhone last night.
3 Michael Jackson write many good songs.
4 Oh, no … I do not do my homework !
5 Have they decide what printer to buy ?
6 He see all the ‘Avengers’ films in one day !
7 It’s Friday ! I think today was Wednesday !
8 On holiday, I walk along the beach.
9 My grandmother send me an email.
10 Have you play the new video game ?
Complete the collocation
11 (go) to the cinema [I _______ to the cinema]
12 (play) guitar
13 (take) a photo
14 (chat / go) online
15 (do) voluntary work
16 (make) a decision
Snakes and ladders
Another activity based on a classic game. I first used this in a very energetic class of 9 – 11 year olds and, thanks to the size of the room, I was able to draw a grid on the floor and use students as ‘counters’, to move around the ‘board’.
If that isn’t possible, just board a grid like so:
GO FORWARD 2
GO BACK 1
GO FORWARD 1
HA HA BACK TO START
GO BACK 3
All you need is a die or dice and different colour board markers. As before, arrange the class in teams, then ask each team a question. The student who answers then throws the die (preferably NOT at the teacher but one thing at a time), and I chart their progress on the board. You can decide whether or not the students need an exact score to land on Finish or not … play it by ear.
[ ‘dice’ is generally accepted for both singular and plural. For English-language learners it’s probably better to use ‘dice’.]
IELTS students need to know an incredibly wide array of adverbs so, with that in mind, here’s an exercise which can be easily adapted as a team game. Complete the sentences with suitable adverbs. Piece of cake, right ?
Use a thesaurus and dictionary to boost your vocabulary.
Adverbs of manner & ‘but’, ‘so’ and ‘even though’
(Fast or quickly – both can be used as adverbs, fast more for speed, quickly for time e.g. the animal runs fast and eats quickly.)
Note: ‘well’, ‘fast’ and ‘hard’ are irregular adverbs of manner.
Use a positive adverb for (+) and a negative one for (-)
Example: She sings (+) beautifully but plays piano (-) terribly.
It is raining (-) heavilyso I will bring an umbrella
I will go along with you ……I am not really hungry
……….I am not hungry, I will go with you to KFC
Grabbike is cheap …..they drive so (-).
She failed her test ……..she studied (+)
Do I look like Batman ? Then why are you speaking so …..(-)
We have learnt many idioms ….that is just the tip of the iceberg.
He loves music …much ….he sings (-).
She never eats the food ………she works there.
……..she speaks English very (+), she is afraid to speak to westerners.
Today’s blog, or activity sheet, is about persuasion; the ability to change someone’s opinion or make them do what YOU want THEM to do. This is known as having ‘the gift of the gab.’
This skill is mostly associated with salesmen who, without cheating or lying, make their product sound so wonderful that you simply HAVE TO buy it … and then you get home and realise you have parted with your hard-earned money for something you don’t want, don’t need and will never use.
Before we kick off, let’s roll out some new expressions:
One born every minute = negative, means that the person is an idiot, who bought something useless.
He/She saw you coming = negative, means the seller thought you would buy the poor quality item or pay too much for it.
Paid over the odds = negative, means paying too much for something.
Could sell sand to an Arab = positive, means the seller is so persuasive, he could sell anything to anyone (here, people who live in the desert do NOT need to buy sand).
Unique = positive, only one or something totally different and special.
You paid £50 for that shirt ? He must have seen you coming !
The hotel was $75, I think I paid over the odds.
She’s such a great seller, she could sell sand to an Arab.
I can’t believe he though it was a real Rolex watch … for €30. Oh well, there’s one born every minute !
Mr Paul’s Wonderfully useful store
Here, you can find all sorts of incredibly useful and wonderful items.
The students have to practise their selling and persuasive skills, in order to sell these … ‘wonderful’ … items. As always, an example:
One grey sock
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up, I have an absolute unique items for you. As you see, I have, just today ONLY, one beautiful delightful almost never-used silver-coloured sock, perfect for men, women or even children, yes, they can grow into it !
This amazing item, one of a kind, can be used for so many things, for example … have crying children ? Simply put the sock on your hand and … a PUPPET ! Guaranteed to stop all tears. Been shopping and have so many dirty, heavy coins ? No problem, simply put the coins in the sock. Having a party ? What would look better than this magnificent sock hanging proudly above the door ? Can use it for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Tet Holiday, Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Birthdays, Weddings … you name it … You CANNOT live without it …
You can have this priceless item for just £100 … OK, to you, today only … £75
Now … your turn
Write a ‘sales pitch’ for one of these items, think of some uses for it, then set a price. Try to convince your classmates to buy your unique item.
Some ideas for uses are at the end of the blog
Tips and ideas:
teabag – mint tea – gets rid of spiders & mice : put on eyes to reduce puffiness
This lesson aims to introduce students to a wider range of vocabulary, phrases and expressions, and then gives them an opportunity to role play and act out the language.
A plan such as this only works with motivated students, and can be very fun for both learners and the teacher.
Print outs or photos of various consumer items will enhance the lesson, but first:
Which shops do you like and why ?
Use these words and phrases to help you write your answer:
big, small, fresh, clean, cheap, expensive, near my house, convenient
range of choice, quality, cost, location, crowded
store layout (what does it look like ? Is it easy to find things ?)
staff helpfulness: average (normal), exceptional, non-existant !
value for money (good quality at a good price)
bargains (good quality and great price)
This is the practice of trying to get a better or lower price for an item. This doesn’t happen in shops, which have a fixed price, but is common, indeed even expected, in markets, depending on the location and culture. Be careful – too much haggling can upset the trader.
Expressions: I wasn’t born yesterday / you’re having a laugh !
[I will pre-teach these expressions in a class, but online students will have to look them up. If you ever need help, just leave a message]
Make a conversation:
One is a market-trader, the other a customer.
You can choose the item(s): watch, phone, T-shirt, food etc.
The language is informal, intonation can be strong but still be polite.
Here, the trader sells ‘genuine fake’ sunglasses
Customer: How much are these sunglasses, please ?
Trader: Oh, those are genuine Gucci, made in France. I can let you have for the special price.
Customer: Gucci … really ?
Trader: Absolutely, look … it says ‘Guchi’ here. Try them on … they are perfect for you.
Customer: Hhhmmmm, ‘Guchi’ … OK, how much are they ?
Trader: To you, my first customer, special price. Only $50
Customer: Are you having a laugh ! I’ll give you $5 tops, no more.
Trader: These are genuine Gucci … OK, OK, just for you, $45. They come from France.
Customer: Gucci are ITALIAN ! What a rip-off. I’m out of here.
With a larger class, have three students selling the same type of item but in different setting, for example:
a department store,
a shop having a sale
and a street market
To make it more realistic, the students have to alter their vocabulary to suit the store, that is, polite standard English for the department store, everyday English for the shop and more slang and idioms for the street market.
The items could include:
Set your own prices to reflect the realities of where you live.
A: My laptop is so slow. B: Buy a new one. A: I would if I had the money. B: Why is it so slow? A: That’s a good question. B: Did you take it to a computer shop? A: I would if I had the money. B: Well, I guess you have to live with it. A: Sometimes I want to throw it out the window. wanna B: You don’t want to do that. A: Why not? B: You might hit someone on the head.
Re-write but with smart phone instead of ‘laptop.’
Being a bit short – not having much or enough money.
A:Can I borrow £5? quid B: Sure. Why do you need it? A: I want to buy lunch. B: Where’s your money? [Pronunciation: Wheres yah monnnee ?] A: It’s not in my wallet. B: Your wallet is empty? A: I don’t have even one quid in it. B: Being broke is no fun. [Broke = having no money] A: Even if it’s only for a short while. B: It’s always good to have friends. A: Friends will lend you money when you’re broke. B: As long as you pay them back.
Write a similar dialogue but with different situations.
Look up the meaning of these words and expressions, then see how they’re used in the following dialogue.
Sentence order – exercises for you to practice rearranging the words in a sentence to make your English more interesting. This is especially useful for IELTS students.
Vocabulary – a feature just on boosting your command of the English language, and finding higher, or better, low-frequency words for basic English.
Increase vocabulary. The average native-speaker uses about 2 000 words. You can boost your vocabulary by learning verbs, adverbs and adjectives which can be easily found by a Google search. Also, use an online thesaurus.
Speak in longer sentences. Say what you want to say (make your point), then elaborate by giving examples, adding reasons and maybe an anecdote. Along with this, give the opposite view by using conjunctions such as ‘however’, ‘on the other hand’ etc.
Pronunciation. Many native speakers have a problem understanding English learners, so we will practise slow and careful enunciation, intonation and stress.