Speaking Activity: Giving Advice (Guess the Problem)

Simple Speaking Activity for Giving Advice / Making Suggestions (ESL)

ESL Level: lower-intermediate & intermediate

Target skill: Giving advice

Class Time: 25 minutes

Summary: Students give advice to a classmate. The classmate then tries to guess what problem s/he has.


First, teach some expressions for giving advice. This activity could be done first to achieve this.

What should you do?

In this activity, students give advice to a classmate. The classmate, however, does not know what problem they have. After getting advice, they can try to guess what their problem was. For example:

  • Student1: You shouldn’t eat late at night.
  • Student2: You ought to sleep with all the lights off.
  • Student3: You had better talk to a doctor.
  • Student4: If I were you, I would take some sleeping pills.
  • Student5: Oh! Do I have insomnia? I can’t sleep, right?
  • (All): Correct!

That’s the gist of the activity.

Activity Execution Possibilities

To get the list of problems that you’ll use in the class, you can either make it yourself or give blank cards to your students and have them write a problem on each.

Possible problems (could also be elicited from class):

  • you have insomnia
  • your partner is cheating on you
  • you can’t find your dog
  • you’re addicted to computer games
  • you’re gaining weight
  • your feet stink (smell bad)
  • you’re failing all your classes
  • your neighbour’s dog barks all night
  • your parents don’t like your boyfriend/girlfriend
  • you are depressed
  • you are homeless
  • ….

You could do the activity in the following ways:

  1. Have one student in front of the class, with his/her back to the board. You can then write the problem on the board and the other classmates can give the advice.
  2. Tape a problem to the back of each students. They then walk around and try to guess their problem. When they have succeeded, then can switch their problem card with someone else’s.

That’s it. This is a simple activity for giving advice that is both fun and requires little preparation. You ought to give it a try.

– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com

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