Introduction : this is a fun activity which allows students to recycle and learn new vocabulary related to clothes and appearance


1. To increase speaking fluency and accuracy
2. To practise descriptions of appearance and / or clothes
3. To develop writing skills


1. Put students into groups and ask them to brainstorm adjectives describing appearance.

2. Feedback: add new adjectives to students’ lists e.g. chubby, curvy, muscular , plump, presentable , scruffy, etc.

3. Introduce the idea of reliable memory.Ask students if they think memory is reliable, if they remember what they were wearing last week, what someone new they had recently been introduced to looked like. Tell them to shut their eyes and ask them questions about other people in the class: what colour is Sara’s coat, what is the pattern on Jacob’s jumper, etc.

4. Divide the class into two groups – police officers (A) and witnesses (B).

5. Give the witnesses a picture of a person in a detailed background location. For example, a picture of a woman in a bank. It could be a picture cut out from a magazine or a picture of a family member or even the teacher. They have 1 minute to look at the picture and memorise it.

6. Put police officers and witnesses into pairs and tell the witnesses they have witnessed a crime and they saw the suspect. They must try and describe the suspect as accurately as possible to the police officer in front of them. The police officers’ job is to write down the details given by the witnesses.

7. Allow three to four minutes for the interview and then ask the witnesses to move to another police officer and repeat the statement. Once the police officers are finished they compare their notes on the suspect’s appearance with the original photo. If there are few differences the suspect will be brought to justice.

8. The students swap roles and repeat with a different image.


• Students design ‘Wanted’ posters and write a detailed description of the suspect based on the notes they made during the interview.They bring their descriptions to class and ask the “witness” to read the statement and confirm that the information is true and correct ( it allows students to recycle the vocabulary yet again whilst role playing )

• Students could also compare the two suspects and write sentences e.g. Suspect 1 is not as chubby as suspect 2

• Encourage students to watch a fascinating Ted talk about the fiction of memory http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_loftus_the_fiction_of_memory

P.S. A quick thank you note to my friend Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to offer feedback and share your ideas.

Agony Aunt with a twist


To practise giving suggestions and advice, to revise reported speech

1. In pairs ask students to brainstorm expressions to offer advice and suggestion e.g. I (don’t) think you should…, you could try…

2. Go through the expressions together and when the students run out of ideas add expressions of your own

3. Individually ask students to think of a problem they or their friends are struggling with and write down a very brief description of it. Let them know they shouldn’t think of anything too personal as they will be sharing the information with each other. Alternatively you can ask them to think of a problem they’ve had and solved but tell them to keep the solution to themselves at this stage. Discourage students from inventing the problem as then their investment in the activity won’t be the same.

4. Students switch papers and write down a piece of advice for the first student using ONE of the expressions they thought of or learnt at the beginning of the class. Tell students to underline the expressions to make them more visible e.g. I don’t think you should date Jack. He makes you so unhappy.

5. Students then pass the paper to the next student who offers a new piece of advice and uses a new expression e.g. How about seeing a marriage counselor? I’m sure he could help you both.

6. Students continue passing their pieces of paper or notebooks round until each person in the class has given each student a piece of advice. Tell students they are not allowed to repeat expressions and suggestions which forces them to read what has been written and constantly exposes them to expressions they might still be unfamiliar with or uncomfortable using.

7. At the end of the activity students choose the most adequate piece of advice they have been given or if their problem has already been solved they compare their own solution to the suggestions of other students and comment on it in their pair/group.

Students rewrite the suggestions into reporting statements e.g. Maria suggested breaking up with Jack. Maria recommended that I should see a therapist.