ARM exercises - speaking activity to wake up a sleepy class

This is a great way to start a lesson with a free-speaking activity. I call it ‘ARM exercises’ which is simply short for Accept, Reject or Modify statements.

Gillie Cunningham

Choose a controversial statement. For example:-

  • ‘Women are the best drivers.’
  • ‘Mobile phones should be banned from public spaces.’ 
  • ‘Homework should be optional.’
  • ‘Burgers are better than pizzas.’

Either dictate or write the statement on the board. Students decide if they accept, reject or modify this statement, according to their personal opinion. When they have made their decision, you would then say ‘OK go round the room and try to find somebody who has the opposite opinion to you’ or ‘OK go round the room and find someone who has a similar opinion’. Alternatively, they could mingle in the class to find the range of opinions, like a small survey – how many students accepted, rejected, or modified the statement.

This activity can really stimulate discussion and the focus is very much on the students rather than the teacher.

To round off the activity, finish with a short whole-class feedback stage.

Language Level


Submitted by Gulshan Huseynli on Sun, 05/15/2011 - 17:55


I have a question. You write the statement and students just agree, reject or modify and they go around and find students who has the opposite opinion or similar. Is that all? Don't they ask about the reasons of their opinion and cotradict the others' opinions? It seems as if they don't do much talking.

Submitted by haaala on Sun, 12/18/2011 - 15:12


it is a very good activity but the problem is that my student refuse to speak only three or four pupils and my class i have 43 pupils and 1 hour i don't have time to make them speak

Submitted by Sally Trowbridge (not verified) on Mon, 12/19/2011 - 09:19

In reply to by haaala



I had a similar class of university students last year. Even after explaining the benefits of pair work and group work they refused to speak English unless I was listening specifically to them. The most successful speaking activities were when they prepared what they wanted to say in pairs then tried to memorize a short dialogue which they read to the class. Not very spontaneous or natural but it did get them speaking!

Here are a couple of activities which might help your students to become more confident speakers:

Good luck!



Thanks for your web adresses, I also have some similar classes this year and I always try my best to motivate them, but sometimes I can't. It's my big problem.

Best regards,


Hi Asit and Donna,
These circle games might encourage your students to speak English in class:

You’ll find more tips on how to get students talking on this poster:

Any other ideas welcome!

Submitted by ary eko nugroho on Sat, 04/20/2013 - 01:31

In reply to by haaala


I suggest to divide your class in a group of three or five students. Ask them to present their opinion whatever they say. Don't check their grammar first, it means you only get their speaking activity only. Let's try. With all my best regard from Surabaya English teacher community.

Submitted by Asit Baran Pal on Thu, 11/08/2012 - 03:51


I am a rural Primary Teacher in West Bengal ( India). want to develop our students interacting ability. A lion share of my student do not speak during the english period. A few more students says only yes or no or thank you etc. it's a great problems near me. I beg your help. with regards.

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