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Four hats for discussion

Average: 4 (21 votes)

This is an integrated speaking lesson for higher level adults that involves them taking different roles depending the colour of their hat.

Katherine Bilsborough


In the 1980s Edward de Bono came up with his Six Thinking Hats idea, in which businessmen use a parallel thinking process which helps them become “more productive, focused, and mindfully involved”.

A similar process can be used effectively in the English classroom to get learners more involved in discussions. By wearing a coloured hat, learners are given help, guidance and more support when they are taking part in discussions. They are also free of the burden of having to share their own opinions, which can be useful if they have very little to say, or feel shy about giving their views. This is especially true with older teenagers, young adults and groups who have not been together for very long. The Four Thinking Hats activity in this lesson borrows the idea from de Bono and offers teachers a creative alternative to the usual speaking-focused lesson. It is especially effective with Business English classes where learners are able to use real-life ‘problems’ as the basis of a discussion.


Any current or relevant discussion topic. Teachers can use their own discussion topics or encourage their learners to suggest them.


B2+ (but could be adapted for lower levels)


40-50 minutes


  • To encourage learners to use English in a creative way.
  • To develop learners’ speaking skills.
  • To role-play a character type while having a discussion.


  • Teachers' notes
  • Thinking hat role cards

You can download these below.