Brainstorming with Beginners

Level: beginner.
Ages: adults.
Type: creating a poster of English words and phrases; “breaking the ice”.
Skills: writing; pronunciation (of the words and phrases that arise).
Language focus: vocabulary.

Preparation/Materials: some A3 paper or a whiteboard; pens.


  1. Ask your beginner Ss to individually write down any words they already know in English. Allow five minutes maximum for this. T helps everyone write something, even if it is just a name (e.g., London).
  2. Form pairs. The Ss exchange their items and write them down.
  3. Join the pairs to make groups of four, and continue the exchange.
  4. Break the groups and form new groups of four. Continue the exchange.
  5. Collate the list on the whiteboard or an A3 piece of paper. Make sure everyone has
    a copy. Drill the words and phrases, and elicit meaning as necessary.
  6. You can display these words and refer back to them via various word games (see
    here for some ideas).

Acknowledgement: The brilliant idea above is not mine (which is why I can call it brilliant); I found it in The Minimax Teacher by Jon Taylor (DELTA publishing, 2001). I can’t recommend this book highly enough, by the way!

3 thoughts on “Brainstorming with Beginners

  1. Hi Simon,

    Your readers may be interested to know that The Minimax Teacher is currently being serialised in the Delta Downloads section of our website, and is FREE to download! Teachers just need to register for access and will then receive notification of when each new download from the book is available, through our monthly e-newsletter. Teachers can sign up here for free:

    Pleased you like the book so much!

    Helen Beesley
    Delta Publishing

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