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FOCUS Speaking and Listening; Vocabulary, review of useful conversational phrases

LEVEL Low intermediate–Advanced

TIME 10–15 minutes to set it up

MATERIALS Have plenty of strips of coloured paper. Make a list of words and phrases that have come up recently and which are useful in conversations e.g. ones covered in your coursebook, the words Fortunately and unfortunately, alternative ways of saying Yes and No.


  1. Pass around some strips of coloured paper. If they are Low intermediates, they just take two; if higher level, they take more.
  2. Remind them of the words and phrases that you’ve decided to review and ask them to write down some of their favourites, a different one on each of their slips of paper. Allow a few minutes for this.
  3. Ask a few students to tell you what they’ve written down. A student may say, for example, I’ve written: Well, apparently, … and others may say, In my opinion/it seems to me/on the other hand/Basically/ etc. Ask everyone to keep their slips face up on their desk where they can see them for the rest of the lesson and add that it’s their responsibility to fit each word or phrase somehow into what they said, at some point in the remainder of the lesson, either when talking to you or to someone else. Add too that if they haven’t managed to say one of their words or phrases by the end of the lesson, they try to do so for homework (if that seems possible to you) or else to bring the slip to the next lesson and try to use it then. If they have managed to fit all their expressions in, their homework is to choose some more, write them each on a slip of paper, and bring those slips to the next lesson where they will be used as naturally as possible as described just above.


  • Ask students to mark primary and secondary stressed syllables on their slips. 
  • To make the activity more fun for children and teenagers, bring in a few baseball caps, girls’ tiaras, and other fun headwear. Whenever a student manages to slip in a target expression, they get to wear the cap of their choice (or tiara, etc.). If someone else manages to pop in a phrase, they can either choose a new item of headwear or become the new wearer of one you handed out before.
  • When someone has successfully used one of their target expressions, instead of giving out headwear, toot a horn, blow a whistle (etc.), or add a small coin to a collection jar kept for that purpose.
Something to say
In this activity you allow students a choice in the language they wish to review, furnish each of them with tangible reminders to use it, give them recognition when they are successful, and allow all your students to notice the use of useful, comparatively new vocabulary.

Something to Say is a photocopiable resource book designed to help develop automatic fluency, a key element in successful speaking skills. The activities will help students realise that both they and their classmates are more interesting and creative than they had imagined as well as consolidating students’ control of common grammatical structures and expanding their English lexical base. The level range is from low-intermediate to advanced.

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