Elementary speaking activity

The aim of this speaking activity is for the students to learn bigger chunks of language to be able to talk about themselves and/or other people. The activity is based around 5 verbs: be, have, work, go, and like. It is something I came up with for my 1-1 classes with beginner / elementary adult students in order to get to know them better.

The Task

Present your students with the worksheet, make sure they know the meanings of all 5 verbs. Give examples of sentences for each verb:

  • I am a teacher.
  • I have a dog.
  • I work at school.
  • I go to the gym every day.
  • I like pop music.

Now, your students need to come up with 5 sentences about themselves for each verb and write them next to the sides of each blue pentagon. Encourage them to use the language they already know and see how many sentences they can write on their own. This way, your students will activate vocabulary they have already learned at some point or refresh what you have covered if you choose to use this activity as a revision task.

Once your students have at least 3 sentences for each verb, you might introduce/practice asking and answering questions using Present Simple:

Do you have a dog?             Yes, I do / No, I don’t.

If you work with just one student, be the first one to ask the questions. Later, it is your student’s turn.

If you work with a group, students should interview each other.

Depending what you wish to teach / what you have already taught, this activity lends itself perfectly to start using Present Simple to talk about other people as well. Here, you will have to model verb+s sentences:

Anna has a cat. Anna is a doctor. Anna likes pizza.

Personal Experience

I started using this exercise during my 1st lesson with individual, elementary students so that they could gain more confidence when talking about themselves and be able to share some basic information about their lives. I also wanted my students to practice using these verbs in bigger chunks so that the sentences like I am a nurse / I have a son/ I go to work by bus start rolling off their tongues naturally. I started with these 5 basic verbs and with each class I was adding one or two more, depending on what my students would find useful. My favourite thing about this activity is how versatile it is and how many communicative opportunities it creates: it might be used to simply describe oneself, but it also works as an interview, or even a guessing game if you have more than 2 students in your group. This one worksheet can usually generate material for 2 or even 3 teaching sessions which is also great in terms of lesson preparation and planning.


Worksheet 5X5 SPEAKING


  1. This ties in very well with what I am doing this week in my lower level class. I was looking for a conversation task to use, and now that little problem has been solved by this activity! Thanks!

    • That’s great Nancy, I hope it goes well! I used this activity again today with some different verbs and plenty of new language emerged in the process.

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