Cleft sentences role play

In this quick speaking activity students practice using cleft sentences (It + be, What, The reason why, It wasn’t until). It was designed with C1 students in mind. It works with both groups and individual learners. It takes up to 10 minutes and is perfect for revision, warm-up, or finishing the lesson.

The Task

Each student draws two strips of paper: one is a Phrase the other is a Person. Their task is to finish the given cleft sentence speaking from the POV of the person they drew.


Phrase: It was my mother who

Person: A retired football player

Student: It was my mother who drove me to my 1st football practice / who signed me up for the local team / who came to my every game / opposed my decision to become a professional player

Other students should try and guess whose POV is being presented. To make it easier, you can write all the characters on the board.

The activity might be done in pairs or individually. You might give them some time to prepare for their turn or have them improvise on the spot.

Personal Experience

This idea came to my mind spontaneously during the lesson so the first time I tried it it was a bit half-baked. What works best is allowing the students some time to think about what they might say or pair them up. It all depends on your learners’ levels of confidence and creativity. This task works really great as a revision/warm-up, once the students have had some time to wrap their heads around the concept of cleft sentences. My teen learners had a lot of fun inventing crazy backstories whereas the adults focused more on the form and being correct.

For more grammar activities for advanced students take a look here, here, and here.


Cleft Sentences Role Play


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    • Hi Matt,
      thanks so much for adding this quizlet set. Seems like a perfect addition to the topic of cleft sentences.

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