Adjectives or Personality Types at a Party

Levels: pre-intermediate to upper-intermediate.
Ages: older kids; teens; young adults.
Type: role-play; revising personality adjectives; games.
Skills: listening; speaking; pronunciation (intonation patterns displaying personality types).
Language focus: vocab – personality adjectives.

Note: this idea was inspired by Keith Johnstone’s book, Impro for Storytellers (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1990).


Students think about what it means to be happy, to be a seducer, etc.

Give each student an adjective or personality type and a small piece of paper.

Each student lists the kinds of behaviour he/she thinks a happy person, or geek, or whatever they have, would exhibit.

Collect the papers and shuffle them.

One student is having a party. The other students are given a piece of paper as they come up to the host’s front door.

The visiting students must demonstrate their adjective or personality type, but aren’t allowed to say the word that describes it. They can demonstrate either with the host or with each other. The host’s job is to wander around and try to spot the adjective or personality type.

When the host is successful, both he and the actor get a point, and both can now help try and identify adjectives or personality types. Continue this way, adding more and more people identifying the adjectives or types, until all are discovered, or until you find some which are unguessable!

Grammar Party

Levels: pre-intermediate to intermediate.
Ages: older kids; teens; young adults.
Type: improvisation/drama game.
Skills: speaking; listening.
Language focus: revision of a particular grammar structure.

Preparation: think of an unusual sentence containing the grammar structure you want to focus on, or google the grammar structure and see what comes up. E.g.: for present continuous, “She’s going to Disney World!” (from here).


Write or elicit an unusual sentence containing the grammar structure you want to focus on. Students are at a party, and arrive one by one. The student host greets them. They have to speak to each other, trying to find ways of using the sentence in a natural way. If anyone uses the sentence well, they are the winner, so encourage students not to accept unnatural-sounding uses.

Quick Association Games

Levels: pre-intermediate to advanced.
Ages: kids; teens; adults.
Type: creative vocabulary revision.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing; pronunciation (individual words and sentence stress).
Language focus: revising vocabulary and grammar from previous classes.

Preparation: none.

Write a word recently acquired from the coursebook in the middle of the board. Draw a circle round it and elicit word associations with that word from the students.

Either use the word and its associations to make a dialogue, poem, story, news article, radio advert, invention, etc., OR say another coursebook word and ask the students to make a mindmap/ spider diagram on their own. After four or five words, students can work together in small groups to choose what words and associations they will use in a dialogue, poem, radio advert, etc.

Vocabulary Bag Stories and Poems

Levels: strong elementary to advanced.
Ages: kids; teens; adults.
Type: using vocabulary bags.
Skills: listening; speaking; reading; writing.
Language focus: vocab revision in different contexts; register.

Preparation: a large envelope, box, plastic bag or wallet containing vocabulary from past lessons; willing students.

Keep a vocabulary bag for new words. Every now and then, pick some out, stick them to the board in different places, and ask the students to use them to tell a story or make a poem – keeping the words in the same place as they are on the board (so, e.g., if “establishment” is on the right of the board, it must be at the end of a line of the student’s poem or prose).

Generating Quick Stories to Practise Narrative Forms

Levels: intermediate.
Ages: older kids; teens; young adults.
Type: story discovery; games/competitions.
Skills: discovering stories; free writing; revising narrative forms.
Language focus: grammar – narrative tenses; any vocab necessary for students’ stories.

Preparation: none.


Ask a student what they did yesterday after school or work. Board their replies, changing the words slightly and asking questions so that each narrative form you’re describing is represented. Also, about halfway through their description, change the story – make it fictional, and crime, or horror, or romance, or whatever takes your fancy or seems appropriate then.

Check the grammar with the students – e.g., if you’re focussing on past forms, which forms are the main events? When is the past continuous used? Which event happened first (using the past perfect)? Board the narrative uses of these forms, preferably in different colours.

Ask students to write down what they did yesterday, using all the forms on the board. Ask them to change their story halfway through, so that it becomes fiction. Monitor and check their use of narrative forms whilst they do this.

Afterwards, you can ask students to read their stories aloud to each other in small groups. Each group chooses its favourite story, which is then divided equally into the number of students in the group.

Students practice reading the story aloud within their group, focussing on intonation and getting both teacher and peer feedback.

Each group then reads the story aloud (thus “performing” it) to the other groups, who collectively give feedback on intonation and (optional) vote on their favourite story.

The stories can then be displayed in the class.