Getting the whole class talking

The following activities are designed to get everyone talking. They can be used with all levels because the language required to communicate is determined by the students.

Clare Lavery

Remember to set up and demonstrate these activities carefully before letting the class go ahead.

Jigsaw puzzle challenge

  • Take three or four large pictures/photos and stick them on card. The pictures can come from newspaper supplements, travel brochures, calendars, magazine adverts, etc. Pictures specific to students' interests will motivate them more, e.g. film stills, cartoons, news stories, famous paintings, famous people.
  • Draw jigsaw puzzle shapes on the back of each picture (four or five shapes) and cut the pictures into pieces.
  • Give each student in the class a jigsaw piece. They must not show their piece to anyone.
  • Students then mingle and question each other about what is on their puzzle piece to try and find people with pieces of the same jigsaw.
  • The object of the game is to find all pieces and put together the jigsaw. The first complete picture puzzle wins.

Something in common or 'give me five'

  • Explain that we can all find something in common with those around us. The object of this game is to discover as many things you have in common with fellow students, or to be the first to find five things in common.
  • Brainstorm examples with the whole class, noting suggestions, e.g.
    • We both have long-haired cats.
    • We have both seen Robbie Williams in concert.
    • We all like Harry Potter.
    • We both have a younger sister called Georgia.
    • Our favourite colour is green.
    • Our families go to the same supermarket, church, club, holiday place.
    • We both believe in love at first sight, ghosts, miracles, etc.
  • Give students a time limit to mingle and find out as many things they have in common. The one who finds the most is the winner.
  • Alternatively ask them to find five things and the first person to shout 'five' is the winner.

Create a biography

  • Take a biography of a famous person and write each detail on strips of paper.
  • Keep the identity secret so they have to guess, if appropriate.
  • Draw a table on the board for students to copy and make notes, e.g. place of birth, early years, famous for ...
  • Give out the strips (split a large class in two if necessary and give out two sets).
  • Students mingle and ask each other questions until they have as many details as possible about the person.
  • Take away the strips and put students in pairs or small groups to use their table of notes to write the biography.

These activity ideas originally appeared on the British Council Language Assistant website.

Language Level


Submitted by bana78 on Wed, 12/14/2011 - 18:37


I liked this material very much, it was very useful for me.

Submitted by Derek Spafford on Thu, 03/19/2015 - 00:45

In reply to by husseinjacob


Hi there there are no worksheets as such. You need to follow the instructions and create the materials as you see fit. I hope this helps. :) Best wishes Del

Submitted by Makyaj on Sat, 12/17/2011 - 08:33


This materials very useful for all of us. I try to learn

Submitted by Tarana 78 on Thu, 06/21/2012 - 12:09


I 'm going to use  it after summer vacations are over.

Submitted by mr mohsen on Fri, 09/14/2012 - 07:24


I think this activity is good and effective but how can i do it with a large number of learner with different levels in the same time.

There is another point: Can I use Arabic to explain this activity before start doing it?

Hi Mr Mohsen
One way to deal with very large classes is to use group work. Follow this link to hear and read more about using group work with large classes:

If you can demonstrate the activity or ask some of the students to demonstrate the activity to the class, you can use English as much as possible with the students. Here are a couple of blogs (there are lots more here on Teaching English!) on using the learners’ native language in the classroom:
This article talks about using L1 in class:


Submitted by Ahmed Mansy on Mon, 05/13/2013 - 16:23

In reply to by Sally Trowbridge (not verified)


I liked this material very much, it was very useful for me.

Submitted by BetsaLopez on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 20:34


Thank You very much, this was very useful for me!

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