Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

Top Ten

Conversation Activity

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: Top 10

Prep Time: Two minutes (You should make a list of your ten favorite places to eat)

Materials: None

Primary Objective: Discuss Restaurants

Other Benefits: Practice checking for understanding


Pre-Speaking (15 minutes)

On the board, write “Description” “Comprehension Questions” “Your Questions”.

Now, write your top 10 favorite places to eat in the world. Tell the students about each place and why you like it so much (Description). After you talk about each place, ask the students three or four questions to check that they have understood you (Comprehension Questions). Finally, have them ask you a few questions about the place (Your Questions).

Note key phrases and vocabulary that might be helpful to your students in the Speaking section.

(You don’t need to tell about each place. Just do it for 10 minutes or so.)

Now, ask the students to make their own lists of their top 10 favorite places to eat in the world.

Speaking (35 minutes)

In groups of three, have the students repeat the process. One student should tell about a place they enjoy eating, ask comprehension questions, and answer a few questions from the group. Then, another person in the group should take a turn.

Post-Speaking (10 minutes)

Go around the class and ask each student to present one of their places to the class.


Have the students create their perfect place to eat. They should combine the best qualities from their ten places to design the best possible one place to eat. Then, they can describe their places to a partner.


Ideas for Homework: Send the students to a website like to read restaurant reviews. For the next class, they share information about a restaurant they found. Or send them to where they can check out lists on tons of topics.

Modification for Lower Levels: During the Pre-Speaking, you’ll need to give them a bit more structure to work with. On the board, write “It is good because it is + adjective” Have students write three adjectives for each restaurant. This is a good activity for students to use their dictionaries. They’ll choose their own words and practice them in English.

Modification for Higher Levels: It should be OK, but if you’d like to challenge them, write these words/expressions on the board:

Luxurious, Scrumptious, Elegant, Well worth it, An absolute gem, Innovative, Sommelier, Impeccable service, Inventive

Ask the students to use at least half of them in their descriptions.

Modification for Small Groups: If possible, stretch Pre-Speaking because you won’t be able to do the Post-Speaking. Otherwise, you could add another category such as Top 10 Foods and do them quickly at the end. Or you could just do the extension.

Modification for Private Lesson: Rather than presenting all ten of your places right away, just present one and then have your student make their list. Then, trade places back and forth. Teach them how to ask good comprehension questions along the way. Keep an eye on your watch at the beginning. If you’re sharing 20 places between the two of you, you’re aiming for about three minutes a place.

Modification for Different Themes: Simply make Top 10 lists for a different topic. Top 10 places you’ve traveled. Top 10 Items of Clothing. Top 10 family members. Anything will work.

August 18, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Stories

Liberty Meadows

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: Love Stories

Prep Time: None

Materials: Clear white paper

Primary Objective: Discuss dating

Other Benefits: Improve sequential storytelling skills (First, then, after that, finally)


Pre-Speaking (20 minutes)

On the board draw a big box with nine square in it. Like this:










In the first square, draw stick figures of a boy and a girl meeting. Ask the students to describe what is happening.

Now, have a student come to the board and draw what happens next in the next square. Again have the students describe what is happening.

Repeat the process until all nine squares are filled.

As appropriate, write key dating vocabulary and expressions on another part of the board. For example, you might end up writing words such as: boyfriend, girlfriend, going dutch, to dump, to cheat, to get married, etc. It depends on the story.

When telling the story, emphasize words like “first”, “second” “after that”, “next” and “finally”.

Now, pass out a piece of paper to each student. Tell them they should create a box with nine squares and a place to write important vocabulary and expressions.

Speaking (30 minutes)

Have each student draw a picture in their first square. They should then show it to a partner. The partner should describe what’s happening. They should write any key vocabulary and expressions.

Then, they should pass their paper to their left. That person should draw the next frame and show it to their partner again. The partner should, again, describe what’s happening. They should, again, write any key vocabulary and expressions on the page.

Pass the papers around until all nine squares are filled in.

Post-Speaking (10 minutes)

Have the students come to the front and present whole stories to the class.


Give the students new sheets of paper. Repeat the process, but this time, instead of doing things chronologically, have the students fill in random squares.

Extension #2

Have the students discuss these questions:

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to have a lot of money?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be sexy?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be funny?

Is it important for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be smart?

What is the most important thing for your boyfriend/girlfriend to be?

Where is the best place to go on a date? Why?

What is the best age to get married? Why?


Ideas for Homework: Have the students visit They should search until they find a comic about dating, print it, and bring it to the next class.

Modification for Lower Levels: At the beginning, ask the students for things that can happen when dating. On the board, write: You meet. You go to a restaurant. You see a movie. Ask them for more suggestions. Then have each student write ten more things on their own. Then, ask for more suggestions and write them on the board. They can use these when deciding what to draw and how to describe it.

Modification for Higher Levels: Bring in some dating comics at the beginning. You can find them by browsing Discuss their meanings and why they’re funny.

Modification for Small Groups: The post-speaking won’t really work because everyone will have seen everything. Just be ready to do the extensions.

Modification for Private Lesson: Before the class, make a complete comic on your own as an example. With your student, create two comics, trading squares back and forth.

Modification for Different Themes: Just make sure you can tell a story around your theme. It’s easier to do this if the students can draw easy things (like stick figures). Themes like dating work best. But, travel could also work well. Anything is possible, but something like nature might be tricky.

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Belongs in the Kitchen!

This is another one-hour conversation activity. For an introduction to the series, click here. Enjoy.

Name: That Belongs in the Kitchen!

Prep Time: 10 minutes (enough time to collect the materials)

Materials: 15+ kitchen items—the more the better (or pictures/drawings of kitchen items)

Primary Objective: Become familiar with kitchen conversations

Other Benefits: Improve descriptive skills


Pre-Speaking (20 minutes)

Have the students write ten things people often do in a kitchen. Write a few examples on the board before they start (e.g. make eggs, eat pasta, etc.). Tell the students they should be specific. “Cook” is not a good activity. “Cook chicken” is OK. Walk around and monitor them while they write activities.

Now, place all of the kitchen objects where everyone can see them. Also, put a stack of white paper with the objects.

Choose a kitchen activity that you will demonstrate. Pick out the objects that you need to demonstrate the activity and demonstrate it. If the students can’t guess what you’re doing, draw a picture of any missing objects. (For example, if they can’t tell you’re making eggs, draw some eggs.)

Then, ask the students to name the objects that you used. Write the names of the objects on the board.

Do it again. Then, have a few students do it using one of their activities.

Write the names of any unused items on the board.

Speaking #1 (15 minutes)

Distribute the kitchen items to the students. With whatever object(s) they have, they should answer these questions:

Which activities on your list can you do with this object?

What other objects do you need to do this activity?

Model it for them before they start. After they finish with one object, they should pass it to another student. They should repeat the process with all of the kitchen objects.

Speaking #2 (15 minutes)

While the students are passing the objects around, write these questions on the board:

What are the most important things in a kitchen?

What does every kitchen need?

Do you have any unique/strange items in your kitchen?

What is the most interesting thing in your kitchen?

How often do you cook?

Do you like cooking?

Who is the best cook that you know?

How often do you eat dinner with your friends/family?

How often do you eat alone?

Is it a good idea to eat with other people often? Why/Why not?

Is your kitchen clean?

They should discuss these questions in pairs or small groups.

Post-Speaking (10minutes)

Hold up each object and ask the class for several activities that you can do with each object.

Finally, ask the “Speaking #2” questions to various students. Ask follow-up questions as appropriate.


Hide the objects from the students’ view. (For example, put them under boxes or outside the door or just have everyone close their eyes.)

Now, reveal one object to one student (but not to everyone else). The student should describe the object until the class guesses what it is.

For a super long extension (if you’re in a country where English is the main language), you could take a field trip to a restaurant and visit the kitchen.


Ideas for Homework: Prepare a dinner at your home and take pictures of each step. (They can use the cameras on their phones.) At the beginning of the next class, show the pictures in groups and guess what was going on.

Modification for Lower Levels: Reduce the number of objects and only choose the most essential kitchen items. (So, skip the whisk and stick to forks, etc.).

During Speaking #1, change the questions to: What is this object? What do you need this object for? Write sample answers on the board.

During Speaking #2, write sample answers next to the questions.

Modification for Higher Levels: It should still be OK. Make sure to include some lesser know objects (e.g. spatula, spice rack, etc.). You might have the students suggest some more questions for Speaking #2.

Modification for Small Groups: It should be OK. For Speaking #1, you can distribute the objects evenly and then ask the students to ask follow-up questions. It might go a little quicker, so be ready to do the extension.

Modification for Private Lesson: Instead of passing the objects around, you might just trade objects back and forth with your student. You could also go to a restaurant. When your food arrives, make sure to discuss what was needed to make it.

Modification for Different Themes: Just pick objects related to a different theme and change the questions to suit the theme. For instance, if it was clothing unit, you could bring in clothing items. If it was travel unit, you could bring in pictures of different places. For a nature unit, you could bring in plants, pictures of animals and camping supplies.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Conversation Lesson Plans, Lesson Plans | , , , , , | Leave a comment