Speaking Lesson: Giving Advice


March 29, 2011 by k. liz

I enjoy sharing speaking lesson plans, since my speaking classes don’t follow a book or curriculum, only a list of topics. This week, we are preparing for next week’s speaking final, in which the students will have to speak for 2-3 minutes on one of three topics. One of the topics is giving advice. Here is the lesson plan I developed for this topic:

Level: Upper beginner/Lower intermediate
Time: 50 minutes
Materials: Dear Abby strips; whiteboard

For this lesson, I began by eliciting advice language from my students – for example:
You should ______…
You must _______…
You can _______…

I found it helpful today to give the students these phrases with a general sense of importance. This gave my students a reference for which verb to choose based on how important the information they were sharing was. For example:
can, could, may = 50%
should, ought to = 80%
must, have to = 100%

Next, I conversed with my students for a few minutes, just giving them basic problems and asking for advice. For example:
I need money, what should I do?
I have a headache, what should I do?
My parents are sad because I am at university, what should I do? (This is also a good time to reinforce giving advice about a third party with answers like “He should . . . They should . . .”)

After just talking with them, I opened a blank word document and projected it on the screen. I then wrote:
“It is raining outside, I should . . .” And had the students fill in the blank. I continued adding onto the story for 4 or 5 sentences, until I ended up with this:
It is raining outside, I should take an umbrella.
After I take an umbrella, I should wear a coat.
After I wear a coat, I should wear boots.
After I wear boots, I can jump in the puddles.
This ended up being really helpful for on the spot correction. Whether my students were missing an article, or had the wrong tense, or had bad pronunciation (telling me I should wear a boat) I was able to elicit the correct response easily and fix the mistake instantly.

The next activity I was a bit nervous about, but it was actually really fun, and my students requested to keep playing it after we’d finished. I pulled up three boys and one girl from the class. I told them that the girl’s father said she had to get married this week, and which boy should she choose? I wrote the formula “She should choose _________ because _________.” on the board and had each student give their reasoning. This was not for a large amount of language production, but rather practicing the formula and pronunciation.

The last part of the lesson I did a type of speaking lines activity. (Click here to see the post about how I do speaking lines with Triptico.) I printed out these Dear Abby posts that I had written (below-feel free to copy), and put one on each desk. I then used Triptico to group the students and they would speak with each other about the topics for 1-2 minutes. This gave me time to walk around, monitor and listen for mistakes and give encouragement.

Dear Abby,
My boyfriend got very angry with me this week. He is angry because I bought Ruffles, and he likes Doritos. He says he wants to break up with me and find a new girlfriend. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
My parents are always very sad because I am away at University. I see them one time every month, but they say that they want to see me more. I am very busy with my University classes. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
I am thinking about moving to America. I have some friends there that I met on Facebook, and they said I can live with them for 2 months. But, I am still learning English and I will not have a job. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
My friends are going shopping tonight. I want to go with them, but I do not have any money. I think they will laugh at me if they find out I do not have any money, and they will all be buying clothes. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
There is a boy I really like. He is so handsome, and really funny. But, my best friend likes him too. I think I liked him first, but he doesn’t talk me very much. Sometimes he talks to my friend. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
I am having a problem with my roommate. She is a very messy person. I like the house to be clean, but every day she throws clothes and trash everywhere in the apartment. It is making me angry. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
I have been feeling sick for three months. I have headaches every day, and sometimes I am so tired I fall asleep in class. The doctors say I have too much stress in University. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
I need to find someone to help me study English. In my hometown, everyone is Chinese, but I want to learn English so I can go to America. I need someone who can talk to me on the internet or in a café. What should I do?

Dear Abby,
My friends are having a big problem. They are fighting every day. They are angry with each other about money, cigarettes, and girls. I want them to stop fighting because they will hurt each other. What should I do?


Hope this helps you out in a speaking class! Let me know if you are able to use anything!!


10 thoughts on “Speaking Lesson: Giving Advice

  1. aigel says:

    Like the idea, will try it out with my teens as I have to revise ‘giving advice’ with my teens.

    • Christophorus says:

      Your material is so useful for me in teaching giving advice especially speaking skills
      I would like to copy “Dear Abby”.

      Thank you very much



  2. k. liz says:

    Reblogged this on Just a Word and commented:

    This has actually been my most popular post on this blog, and I will be revisiting it myself this week as I start advice language in my academic skills class. I thought I’d share it again with all of you. Hope it’s helpful!!

  3. Great post – love the Dear Abby letters. I think I’ll use some of them with my intermediate adult English learners. Thanks for sharing!

    I also loved reading about the technology you use with your students and am definitely going to check out Triptico.

    Check out my blog: http://ellteaching20.blogspot.com/

  4. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted
    to mention that I have really loved surfing around your
    weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your feed
    and I’m hoping you write once more soon!

  5. R.C. says:

    Thank you for sharing your precious thought about speaking lessons! I found Triptico Plus very useful, so do your ideas!

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