You Really Should: 5 Fantastic Activities for Practicing English Modals

You Really Should
5 Fantastic Activities for Practicing English Modals

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 45,760 views |

Can you? Could you? Would you? Should you? If you are asking about modals in the ESL classroom, the answer is yes.

You should review these unique verb combinations with your students, and you can have fun while you do it. These out of the ordinary modal activities give you and your students a chance to practice can, would, could, and might and have fun at the same time. With them, students will feel good about what they are learning, and you can feel confident that these activities will make a lasting impact on their English learning journeys.

Try These 5 Fantastic Activities for Practicing English Modals

  1. 1

    Can You Bingo

    Talking about the abilities that your class members have is a great way to review use of the modal can. The review is even better when you can turn it into a fun and engaging game – like Bingo. To start, have a class discussion about the things a person might be able to do. Include things that some people can do and others cannot do, and make a big list on your board. Once your list has 30-50 abilities, it’s time to prepare for the game. Give your students each a blank bingo board (you can find many templates online), and have them fill in the spaces with one of the abilities you listed on the board. Then, when you say go, students mingle around the classroom asking each other, “Can you _________?” asking about one of the activities listed on their bingo board. If the person he asks can do that activity, he marks off the square with their name. If they cannot do it, he moves on and asks another person about that ability or another one on his board. Students can only ask each person about one ability before moving on to ask another classmate, but they can come back to the same people as often as they like. When someone gets five spaces in a row, he calls bingo. If you want to play another round, have students fill in another blank bingo board using different activities than they used in the last one. This is a great activity for letting students get to know each other at the beginning of the year. It’s also good for students who have been together for a while when the activities are a little more out of the ordinary.

  2. 2

    Would You Do That?

    This tournament style activity gets students thinking about things they would and would not do. Have each person make a list of ten things they have never done – five they would do and five they would not do. (For example, Marie might eat sushi but would not jump out of a plane.) Each person should make sure these activities are listed in random order. Then, have students partner up and exchange lists. The pairs get no more than five minutes to read each other’s lists and try and guess what five things their partner is willing to do. Once he thinks he knows the five activities, he shares his choices with his partner. He gets five guesses and should phrase his guesses like “(I think) You would _________.” The other person either confirms that he would do the activity or states that he would not do it. The guesser scores one point for every guess he gets right. Then partners reverse roles. The person who guessed more activities correctly wins the round. Losers are out of the competition. The winners then partner up with someone else and play the second round the same as the first. Continue until you have only one pair left and one winner. Award the winner a prize for how well he or she knows his classmates.

  3. 3

    Would You, Could You

    Bring a little levity to your ESL classroom with one of children’s literature’s most well-known and well-loved books. Read Dr. Seuss’ famous book Green Eggs and Ham to your class. After reading, give them the printed text of the book, and ask them to work with a partner to locate all the modal verbs Seuss uses. Then, have those same pairs think of an activity they might not like to do (like eat green eggs and ham). Using Green Eggs and Ham as a model, students should write their own silly book about that activity, complete with illustrations. Once their books are complete, have students read them to the class. Collect the books and make them available in your classroom reading center for students to reread during free reading time. In addition to talking about modals, this is also a good activity for reviewing syllables and rhyme in English.

  4. 4

    On Location

    Vacations are full of exciting activities and fun things to see. In this activity, students will describe a vacation location using the modal could. Students work in pairs or individually. Each pair chooses a location where someone might go for vacation – the beach, an amusement park, the grocery store, camping, etc. Students work with their partners to write five sentences describing what a person could do at that location. Pairs then take turns reading their sentences to the rest of the class, and the class must then guess what location they are describing.

  5. 5

    Do You Hear What I Hear?

    This activity takes some preparation on your part, but it’s sure to get your students talking with modal verbs. To prepare, collect several items from home that make a sound. They could be anything from a bicycle bell to pouring cereal out of a box. Divide the class into two teams. Keep the objects hidden under a box or behind a curtain and make a noise with the object. Teams take turns trying to guess what the object is. On their turn, the team gets 60 seconds to discuss what the item is. As they discuss the sound, they should use sentences like, “It might be a …. It could be a….. It must be a …….” After the minute is up the team must make a final guess as to what the object is. If they are correct, they score ten points. If they guess incorrectly, they lose five points. Once each team has had several turns, the team with the most points wins the game.

What creative ways have you found to review modals?

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