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Great starters for advanced students




Lateral thinking stories

You present a scenario and the students have to find out what happened only using yes/no questions. Here are three examples:

1.   When Jack comes home he finds Mandy is dead, lying in a pool of water and Tom is sitting quietly on the armchair. There is some broken glass on the floor. Tom won’t be charged with murder. Why not? Answer: Mandy is a fish and Tom is a cat. Mandy was swimming in her bowl. Tom started playing with it and knocked it over.

2.   A woman lives on the 30th floor of a building. When she gets home from work, she usually takes the lift as far as the 21st floor and then climbs the stairs to the 30th. However when it’s raining, she’ll always take the lift to the 30th floor. What explains this strange behaviour? Answer: She is of small stature and cannot reach the top button unless she is carrying an umbrella.

3.   A man sprints up some stairs, desperately turns on a light switch, looks out the window and sees dead people everywhere, then commits suicide. Answer: He was operator of a life house who forgot to switch on the light.

Tube train

This is really a twist on speed-dating. You line up two rows of chairs, facing each other and all quite close together. Each student sits down, facing their partner and all students are given a topic to discuss with each other for two minutes. Then one student moves along the train and all the students should have a new partner and the game begins again, this time with a new topic.

Just a minute

In small groups each student has to talk for a minute on a subject of their choosing, while the other students check the time. If the student hesitates badly another student ‘buzzes in’ and takes over the topic for the rest of the minute. You can choose topics for the students, preferably linking up with recent work.

Persuade a partner yours is better

Get the students to all write down their favourite film. In small groups they then have to persuade the other people that their choice is more important than the others. Students can repeat this with their favourite animal, TV programme, social media platform etc.

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