Speaking Activity: Giving Advice (ESL)

Simple ESL Activity for Giving Advice / Making Suggestions

ESL Level: lower-intermediate & intermediate

Target skill: giving advice

Class Time: 10 minutes

Background: This is a simple speaking activity where students practice using the most common structures for giving advice / suggestions.

Activity Execution:

1) Write the below five (or seven) sentence patterns for giving advice on the board:

You should…
I suggest…
Why don’t…
If I were you…
How about…
[Optional: My advice would be…] [Optional: Have you thought…]

2) Tell your students that you have a problem, e.g. one of your teeth hurts. Ask them to give you some advice. One will likely say “You should go to the dentist.” Great. Write the suggestion “go to the dentist” on the board beside “You should…”. Next, get the students to fit that idea (go to the dentist) into the other sentence patterns. e.g:

I suggest (that) you go to the dentist.
Why don’t you go to the dentist?
If I were you I would go to the dentist

Make sure they understand the how to use each pattern for giving advice (especially suggest, which tends to be the hardest).

3) Tell them to get a piece of a paper, and write down two (or more) problems that the following type of people might have:

  • students
  • workers
  • the elderly

They can write it down in point form in their own native language if they’d like. It’s not important how they write it down. Give them one minute.

4) When ready, tell one student to start by saying his/her first problem. Have the student say something like : “I am a student. I have a problem. I am failing all of my courses.” Next, get the other students to give advice using one of the patterns on the board. When a student gives a suggestion using one of the patterns, put a check mark on the board beside that pattern for him/her. Then get the next student to tell his/her problem to the class and get advice. The activity is finished when every student has given advice using all of the patterns.

This is a simple speaking activity but practical. If your students are lower-intermediate or intermediate, I suggest that you give it a try.

Matthew Barton of EnglishCurrent.com


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7 comments on “Speaking Activity: Giving Advice (ESL)

  1. emily (Posted on 11-5-2013 at 20:06) Reply

    what is your problem I am a person the give advice

  2. emily (Posted on 11-5-2013 at 20:08) Reply

    I am a person that give you advice

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-7-2013 at 17:29) Reply

      I am hungry but I am too lazy to make food. What should I do?

  3. Beth (Posted on 4-7-2015 at 18:15) Reply

    Great warm up for an advice-suggestions lesson! Involves everyone in the class and that is important, thank you!

  4. Badri Kafle (Posted on 8-21-2016 at 06:49) Reply

    its OK in my opinion.

  5. Edgar Córdova Balina (Posted on 3-24-2019 at 23:07) Reply

    Hi, I’m a student and I’m having problems with my school supplies, there are many things that I do not understand, the exam period is approaching and possibly I get very low grades.

    – You should take some extra courses
    -I suggest you study more topics that you do not understand
    – Why do not you ask for advice?
    -If I were you, I would ask someone who understands the subject to help me study
    -What if you study the subject on your own

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-26-2019 at 11:29) Reply

      #3: I recommend using a contraction (“don’t”). The expression is always ‘Why don’t you…?” I’ve never heard it with “Why do not you…?” (it sounds strange!)
      Otherwise, great!

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