I would rather / I would prefer / It’s time speaking activity

The aim of this activity is to help students practice using structures like I would rather / I would prefer / It’s time + past simple when talking about something we want somebody else to do. It is a great activity to offer more grammar practice, but it can also be used during conversation classes to guarantee a lot of student talking time.

The Task

Working in pairs students need to come up with the most appropriate things to say in three situations.


Situation 1: I’d rather you weren’t so jealous

Situation 2: It’s time you started knocking at my door before entering my room!

Situation 3: I’d prefer it if you worked harder!

Encourage your students to invent as many things to say as possible and use various structures. If they feel the situations are not relevant, ask them to come up with something which rings more true to their lives. Personalising English speaking activities makes students more engaged and invested in using the target language as they feel this is something they could actually talk about in their everyday lives.

A lot of language learners find it hard to comprehend the I would rather structure and they rarely feel comfortable enough to use it in conversations. This activity is a wonderful opportunity for them to practice in a slightly more controlled context and grow more confident in using complex grammar.

For more speaking activities that help practice grammar check out the one focusing on using reported speech.

Personal Experience

As all activities which allow creativity, this one worked well with my teenage students. It took some monitoring to make sure they were using correct grammar. Adult learners took more time to come up with ideas and we ended up inventing more workplace-like/parent-child situations to use this grammar in. Overall, it was a very useful activity as far as making my students talk and providing them with a clear context in which to use some grammar structures they felt were too complex or simply “weird” ( Would rather and past tense? But why?) to be used outside of the classroom.


I’d rather

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