Talking heads – role play with masks – for teenagers and young adults


Ok, so this is a bit off the wall but it is a quite a good laugh if you have a young class or students who have a sense of humour. This is a simple role-play class using masks of famous people.

How to run the class

The biggest part of getting this class to run successfully is how well you sell it to your students. It is a kind of drama activity and yes, it is a bit wet, but, your students will only think that if you don’t sell it to them correctly.

Say and think this :Make no bones about it, speaking and using English language creatively are absolute cornerstones of learning a language and by delivering this class you are doing your job well and the students are learning.

Don’t say or think this: this class is a bit of messing about where we all get to make up stupid dialogues and laugh at each other.

Put students into groups of three and give them a copy of the masks from here: You can ask students to cut them out or stick them on cardboard if they’re a little younger. If you can laminte them it will make them a little more durable. You can also cut out their eyes if you want, but you don’t need to.

Tell your students they have ten minutes to make a dialogue, they are going to hold the masks in front of their faces and  then speak as the famous or interesting person. They can use all of them, or just three of them, they can change their character at any time. They can use any subject they want as long as it’s not rude or offensive.

It all depends on you if you want them to write their dialogue down or just try to remember it. I get them to try and remember it and ad lib.

Write these three headings on the board and explain them to the class before they start:

Introduction: There needs to be a starting point, the characters can tell us where they are and what they are doing. Where are they? In the forest, at home, in their office? Tell us.

Conflict: There needs to be something that the characters have to come up against, they need some conflict to make the dialogue interesting. This could be against each other or something else. Are they at war? What problem do they have to solve? Do they have a problem with each other?

Resolution: Finally, whatever problem they have, there has to be a resolution. It has to finish and come to an end.

Now ask students to work together on their dialogue. Some groups won’t be able to do this because they are not creative enough, you have to circulate and help them. Offer any ideas you come up with and encourage them. This is a crucial stage and if you don’t help them a little bit, the results won’t be great.

When students have made their dialogue, ask them to perform them for the rest of the class. If this is too hard, ask them to perfom it for another group.


I tried to pick people that my students would know but you could use any face you like. Just go to and search for ‘famous person’s name mask’ and you’ll find loads of faces that might be more relevant to your students.

Further ideas

You could video them doing this and stick on .

You could use themes that you want them to develop. You could ask them to make a patient going to see the doctor role-play or a shopping role-play or anything that fits in with what you’re studying.

Describing People – A quick ppt show

Here’s another PowerPoint show with loads of different types of faces and people for your students to describe. I’ve put down a few ideas on how you could get more out of it below, but if you just want to get straight to the content, click below.


How to run this lesson
This ppt will work best to help practise vocab and structures used to describe people. You can pretty much use it with any level, higher students will be able to say more and lower students will be able to say something like ‘He’s got…’

1. Split your students into pairs and explain that the first student is number one and the second number two. Tell them that they are going to have two minutes to describe the face/person to their partner. Depending on how good your students are you might like to have them focus on one special aspect of the person, such as
– What they look like
– What their life history might be
– What their personality migfht be like.

2. Now show the PPT to students. Student 1 will talk about the first picture, then you tell them to ‘swap’ and the second student will describe the next picture. Repeat this until the end of the slide show.

3. When students have finished you can feedback on the language that you heard students producing (negatively or positively) or scroll back up to some of the more intereting faces and ask individual student to tell you what they think.

Here’s the PPT file again :

The zombie lesson – reading and discussion lesson for Halloween

Thanks to the unofficial Stanford Blog for this image

Can’t be bothered to read the blog?  I wouldn’t bother either, here’s the worksheet:

I quite like zombie films and most of my pre-intermediate and intermediate students do as well. Here is a three part Zombie lesson to get them talking and reading about the most popular undead monster in modern culture.

Pre- reading. – You can dictate these questions or cut them up and ask students to read them together

Reading – You could dictate a few comprehension questions about this or blank out a few of the words to make it a gap fill exercise.

Discussion – ask students in pairs to make their own zombie apocalypse plan outlining what they and their partner would do to survive the zombies. I put a few sentences students could finish but they could write anything. Help them out by giving them some ideas. What would they do if there really was a zombie threat? Would they go to the supermarket to get food, the DIY store to get weapons? Where would they go long term? How would they really survive?

****WARNING**** I wouldn’t do this lesson with students who aren’t familiar with the Zombie genre, younger students or students who wouldn’t like this kind of thing.

Here’s the worksheet again

Let me know if this lesson worked or not.

More of the same from:

The Royal Wedding ppt – a quick ten minute chat for your intermediate English class.

Can be bothered to read the short post?  – download the Royal Wedding PPT here.   (can you find the puctuation error?)

English Language Space

It’s the most important wedding since the last important wedding but, like it or loathe it Prince William’s marriage to Kate is big news and it might be a good subject to get your students chatting.

Here’s my own royal wedding powerpoint that I’ve been using with my students. Click here to download the powerpoint.

Royal wedding lessons on the net

Breaking News English has a good Royal Wedding lesson here

The TES has a few Royal Wedding lessons but you have to be a member

Some great material for the Royal Wedding here at Michelle Henry

Really good lesson plans and a PowerPoint show from Guardian Teaching Resources, discussing, among many things constitutional changes. You must be a member to view these.

Using Board Games with your language students

Playing a board game is fun and requires more than a little bit of language. You have to explain the rules, give advice on how to play, ask for tips, encourage, cheat, discuss and generally chat while you play. All the perfect ingredients for a language activity that might not be good for a full class, but might be great to fill a tutorial hour with a small group or engage an ‘English Conversation Club’. Here are my best board games to play with your students

The king of board games where player make words to score points. This has the added bonus of already ‘looking like’ it will be good for learning English. Get students to play together and allow them to use a dictionary to help them – it’s not cheating!
The world conquest game is legendary. Simple, fierce and easy to learn, it will have your students engaged straight away. Use the goal cards with higher level students to encouarage sneaky tactics.

Complex, iconic and involved. What better way to learn a language than to engage in trade? Encourage students to make deals with each other by buying and selling the properties they have. Also, you must use the ‘Free Parking Rule’ – this puts lots more cash up for grabs.

Card Games
Pontoon (or twenty one) – Quick game to encourage speculation and guessing. Lots of opportunity for fun and laughs, good for lower level students who need to practise numbers.

Games I wouldn’t recommend
Chess – too much thinking and not enough chatting. It’s a bit like boxing in that both players just want to crush each other – not good for a friendly language activity.

Poker – again, too much frowning and not enough chatting.

Purely dice games like snakes and ladders or ludo, there’s no chance to speak here.

Anyone know any other good board games to play? Or can I hear my voice echoing round an empty virtual hall?

Valentine’s Day and Relationships – complete PowerPoint Lesson

Here’s the second edition of my complete lessons using only PowerPoint slides. Can’t be bothered to read the post? Get the lesson here

I think this lesson on relationships fits in really nicely with Valentine’s Day, especially since the audio features a lady dumping her boyfriend. It’s for pre-intermediate learners and should take about an hour. You only need the PowerPoint show above and working speakers to play the audio, students only need a pen and some paper.

Slide 2

Elicit different types of relationship from the class before you show the slide – mother, father etc. Now show the slide, students have to write their own explanation for each word.

Slide 3

Students match the phrasal verbs to the meaning.

Slide 4

Ask and annswer the pre-listening questions as a class before listening to the girl dumping her boyfriend. Students answer the gist question.

Slide 5

Now students listen again and answer the more detailed questions

Slide 6

Students ask and answer these questions in pairs or small groups. You can monitor and give feedback at the end.

Here’s the PowerPoint lesson again

You can find more lessons like this at

Another Great PowerPoint Lesson – Real speaking situations

 Here’s an old favourite, a powerpoint lesson that you can show with a projector or on your interactive whiteboard. It focuses on students responding to visual prompts asking them what they would say in cetain situations.

Can’t be bothered to read the post – download the lesson here.

Level: A2- B1 / Entry 3 / Pre-intermediate

Time: 30 mins

Technology needed: IAWB or projector to show the show.

How to run the lesson:

1. Before showing the ppt show, write these phrases up on the board. ‘Cheers/excuse me/ take care/’ and ask students to tell you what they mean and in what situations they would be used. ‘Cheers’ in modern English means ‘thank you’ as well as ‘to your health’ when drinking, ‘excuse me’ can be used to say sorry, or to express shock or concern at something if said with rising intonation as a questions. ‘Take care’ is something we say instead of goodbye and is a very nice thing to say.

2. Ask students to number a sheet of paper one to ten. As you show each picture ask students to write down what they think should be the response.

3. When you have done all ten elicit feedback from the students. You might like to look at the suggested answers on slide 11. 

Here’s the lesson again –

If you like this kind of lesson, check out the English Language Space Station’s complete powerpoint page