Big life decisions speaking activity

BIG-LIFE-DECISIONS-LESSON-PLAN-(1)Students make  four big life decisions by coming up with lists of pros and cons for different situations. By doing so they can also revise the use of conditionals (first and second), modal verbs used to speculate (may, might, could) and linking devices (however, although, on the other hand). Suitable for adult and teenage students, levels intermediate and up.

The Task

Put “Big life decisions” on the board and elicit some examples from students. Ask them what they usually do when they need to make an important decision and see if making a list of pros and cons comes up. If not, suggest this solution and ask your students whether they think it is an effective method of reaching a decision.


Tell your students that you would like them to write down the lists of pros and cons for four different situations. Students work in pairs or individually. You might distribute the handouts or blow the image up on the board. Once they have finished, discuss the list for one chosen problem. Write down some pros and cons on the board:

Moving abroad for work

Pros:                                                                                      Cons:                                                              

more money                                                                            leaving your friends and family

new experience                                                                       difficult to adapt to new conditions

improve your language                                                        language barrier

a better job                                                                              loneliness

personal development                                                          risk

learning about new cultures

Write an example sentence on the board: If you move abroad for work you might earn more money, however, it might be difficult to adapt to new living conditions.

Underline “if”, “however” and “might” to show your students what kind of language they should use. Brainstorm more ways to contrast ideas: on the other hand, whereas, but, although, nevertheless. Do the same with speculations: may, could, maybe perhaps. Elicit some more sentences for the example on the board and write them.

Now, ask students to discuss their lists of pros and cons with a partner. They might switch a partner for each list. They should use the structures you put on the board and add their partners’ ideas to the lists. Finally, talk to the whole group to see whether there are more pros or cons on each list and whether it is a good idea to take the decision.

Optional follow-up / homework: students write a short composition about one of the decisions e.g. “Would you move abroad for work?”.

For more speaking activities see Parental decisions or Problem solving activities.

For more grammar practice see Conditional Structures Fun Activities.

Personal Experience

This activity was one more attempt to create a context where certain grammar structures and vocabulary could be used naturally and serve communication. Students who I did this activity with were already familiar with these grammar points, all they needed was another context to practice them in. This activity worked pretty well in class, my students were engaged and found the topics quite relevant. The collaborative phase required plenty of monitoring and helped clarify some doubts. The final part of this activity (the actual decisions making) sometimes turned into a separate decision on its own, which was actually pretty interesting and effective, creating the opportunity to debate (agree/ disagree).



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