This speaking activity for higher-level beginners up to upper intermediate involves students working in pairs to make up excuses.

Said Ali


  • Ask students if they've ever had parties. If they have, tell them to share experiences with the class. If they haven't, explain to them what a party is.
  • Tell students to remember the last party they had. Some guests were invited but some didn't come.
  • Divide class into two parts, A students who attended the party and B students who didn't attend.
  • Tell B students who didn't attend the party to prepare their excuses for when they are asked for them.
  • Tell A students who attended the party to ask B questions to find the reasons for not attending.
  • Tell them to give a range of excuses in different ways. Otherwise they repeat one excuse every time.
  • Be careful to keep the students changing partners. The A students could also tell the B student about the party.


  • If you use this activity when you've just introduced a new structure that is appropriate here, for example 'had to' or 'was/were', you will hopefully notice that students will use it without you having to prompt them.
  • You can do some variations, such as excuses for not doing things on time or excuses for not keeping your word etc.

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