Speaking lesson – describing people and personalities

This activity has been made for a strong intermediate or upper-intermediate class. Below you will find everything you need including the worksheet, full instructions and some additional ideas.

Before the lesson print and cut out the worksheet (click here to download).

You’ll need one worksheet for every group of four or five students. The ideal group size for the activity is five, but you can use it with four by leaving out one of the characters from the worksheet.

Part one

Write the following questions on the board for your students to discuss in pairs:

  • Have you shared a house with anyone outside your family?
  • What do you like most about sharing a house with people you get on with?
  • What do you think makes a bad housemate?

Elicit feedback from the class and encourage students to share any interesting stories they have about house sharing.

Part two

page1Arrange the class into groups of four or five and say the following:

“In your groups you are sharing a house together. Things are going well but there’s an empty room in the house and you can’t afford the rent unless you find another person to live with. You put an advert online and you’ve had some replies. To save time you each went to interview a different candidate and now you’re meeting to discuss what you found out. I am going to give each of you some information about the people you met. Read the information and then take turns introducing your candidate to the group.”

This first part works as an information exchange. Hand out the characters from the first page of the worksheet. Each person in a group is given a different character. Your students should start reading their person’s information. Once they’ve all finished reading they take turns describing their person to the group. Students should not just read them aloud (to ensure this you can ask students to place their handout face down once they’ve finished reading). Also, while they can show each other the pictures they shouldn’t read each others’ information.

Part 3

Once students have finished, ask them to order the candidates from most to least desirable as housemates. They should discuss them in their groups and come to an agreement. Ask your students to justify their opinions and give reasons. It may be useful for your students to have some language input on the board, for example:

  • I think that…
  • In my opinion…
  • I disagree/agree with you because…
  • I think […] is better/worse than […] because…

Each group should arrange the potential housemates from best to worst by putting them in order on their table, with the best at the top and the worst at the bottom (they are allowed to have two people tied if they can’t agree on an exact order). Once they’ve all finished they should stand up and have a look at the order the other groups have chosen. Feedback as a class and ask groups to justify their choices.

Part 4

page2Next, tell your class that before they make their final decisions things have changed and you have some new information for them. Each member of a group is given a different character’s information from page two of the worksheet. The students then discuss the candidates with the new information in mind, and decide on their new order of best to worst.

As before students stand up and walk around the room to see how other groups have made their choices. Feedback as a class.

Follow up

For each part, if one group is much quicker than the others ask them to think about how they could write an advert to attract better candidates for their house. What would their priorities be and what questions would they ask to filter out unsuitable people? This can also lead into a writing task – create an advert you could put online to find the perfect housemate.

The activity above was primarily made to practise speaking. You can use the extended warmer below to create a more fully rounded lesson with more language input.

Extended warmer and language input – personality adjectives and modals of deduction

This activity is designed to prepare students with additional language before completing the main activity above.

Bring some photos or pictures of a variety of people to class. You could use any source. I found the pictures below on pixabay. Give a set of pictures to each pair of students and ask them to discuss the people in the pictures and imagine what their personalities could be. Write the following phrases on the board and give a couple of examples yourself to help their discussion:

  • I think he/she might be [funny]
  • I think he/she must be [quite shy]
  • She/he can’t be [bad tempered]

Faces

Move students into different pairs and ask them to explain their previous discussion and compare their ideas. Feedback as a class and write down any personality adjectives that are mentioned on the board. Elicit further personality adjectives from the class and write them on the board. Try to get a wide variety of positive, negative and neutral and offer hints if students are unable to express exactly what they mean.

Once students have started to run out of ideas pick one of the words on the board and ask the class: “Is this a positive or a negative attribute for someone you live with, and why?” After a brief discussion, ask students to answer the following question in pairs:  “Are there are any other attributes you think are important when sharing a house with other people?” After a few minutes feedback with the class and write any additional attributes on the board. (An alternative is to get the students to write the words on the board themselves).

Divide the class into groups of three or four and give each group a red and a green marker. Ask them to discuss each of the personality adjectives on the board and decide if they are positive or negative attributes for someone you live with. They should then nominate someone in the group to circle the positive attributes green and the negative attributes red. Once the groups have all finished put them into new groups and ask them to discuss the results on the board. As you start the main activity there will now be a visual representation on the board of the students’ opinions regarding housemates.

Later in the lesson when you hand out the characters you could have them folded so that students can only see the picture. They have to discuss the faces with their group and predict what kind of housemate they’ll be.

Thank you for reading. If you’re looking for more speaking activities and games check out the archive here.

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