12 Fun Recommendations ActivitiesAlex Case
Conversations like “Can you recommend…?” “If I were you, I’d…” “Thanks, I’ll give that a go” are common and natural both inside and outside the classroom, but can bring up complications such as not knowing how to respond and confusing strong and weak recommendations. The topic is therefore well worth some class time. This article gives games and other stimulating activities for the language of asking for, giving and responding to recommendations. “Recommendations” is used here to mean advice based on personal experience or knowledge, but all the games can also work for advice and suggestions more generally, usually with little or no adaptation needed.
Recommendations answer me
One student asks for a recommendation such as “Do you know any good ways of gaining muscle?” and their partner tries to get a particular response to their recommendation, including deliberately trying to get negative responses like “I’m not sure that’s a good idea”. This game can be played with cards with reactions phrases on, or a similar worksheet with reactions to cross off as they are obtained. For less use of paper, it can be done with the student thinking of a recommendation in response to the question, writing down the reaction that they expect that recommendation to get, giving their recommendation, listening to the response, then comparing it to the predicted response that they wrote down.
Students can compete to make different recommendations until the other person has no more ideas and gives up, and/ or compete to give the idea which the person who asked for a recommendation reacts to most positively.
Recommendations coin games
Students can flip a coin to decide if they will ask for something they really want a recommendation on (heads) or imagine another possible recommendation that they don’t personally need (tails), give a positive recommendation (heads) or a negative recommendation (tails), give their own true recommendation (heads) or recommend something that they actually wouldn’t really recommend (tails), and/ or react positively to the recommendation (heads) or react negatively to the recommendation (tails).
Recommendations dice games
Students can roll a dice to decide what topic they will ask for recommendations on, for example:
- studies/ language learning
- health and fitness
- food and drink
- presents/ gifts/ shopping
- travel/ tourism
- arts and media
A dice can also decide how positive or negative their recommendation should be and/ or how positive or negative the reaction to that recommendation should be.
Recommendations vocabulary practice
Give students a list of recent and/ or new vocabulary that can be used to ask for and give personal recommendations such “spare tyre”, “fluency”, “long weekend” and “romantic”, and ask them to try to use as many as they can in such conversations.
Recommendations grammar practice
Although it is more difficult than with vocabulary, giving recommendations can also be used to practise grammar such as uncountable nouns (“I have too much free time”), Present Continuous (“I’m losing my hair”), comparative (“How can I find some cheaper accommodation?”), superlative (“What’s the nearest restaurant that you’d recommend?”), time expressions (“When do you find is the best time to do this class’s homework?”), quantifiers (“How much salt is too much, do you think?”) and Present Perfect (“I’ve forgotten most of what we studied at the start of the term. Do you know any good ways of revising?”).
Rejecting recommendations challenge
Students ask for recommendations, reject as many of those ideas as they can, then accept the next recommendation whenever they can’t come up with any different reasons for rejecting what was recommended. They could then discuss what they really think the best recommendation was.
Recommendations bluffing games
As mentioned above, students could ask for a mix of recommendations they do and don’t really need, give a mix of true and made-up recommendations, and react with how they really feel about the recommendation or with the opposite reaction to their true feelings, perhaps with the flip of a coin.
Instead of using a coin, students could play a version of the card game Liar, in which they are given “True” and “False” cards which they lay face down on the table as they give and/ or react to recommendations. They can then be challenged at any time with “Liar!”, at which point the top card is turned up and the person who put it down takes all the cards on the table if it says “False”. However, the accuser takes them all if it says “True”.
Recommendations guessing games
One student chooses a topic that someone might ask for recommendations on such as “living longer”. Without saying which subject they chose, that student gives suitable recommendations like “I’ve read that stopping smoking would help most” and “For me, getting more sleep is the most important thing” until their partner guesses which situation they are giving recommendations for. They can then discuss the best real recommendations.
Recommendations card games
Students can be given cards to decide what topics they should discuss (“Exercise”), if they should give strong or weak recommendations, if their response should be positive or negative, if they should say how they really feel or not, what recommendations phrases they should use (“I’ve always found that…”), what key words from recommendations phrases they should use (“found”), what situations they should roleplay (“talking to a teacher”), etc.
Students are usually happy to spend hours giving and responding to real recommendations for what to do with their free time, etc, but if you have a class that might need to give advice in a different situation in the future and/ or have got bored with topics like language learning, you can introduce roleplays on recommendations. Ones where they pretend to be customers of their partner are most useful, but strange ones like giving all the recommendations as a cat, Benjamin Franklin, etc are more fun.
Recommendations simplest responses
As well as the practice games above, a game can also be used to present the language of strong and weak recommendations or positive and negative responses to recommendations. This can be done by students listening to example phrases and raising one of the two cards they have been given to show which kind of phrase they think it is, e.g. raising their “weak” card if they hear “I wouldn’t particularly recommend train buffet food” or their “negative” card if they hear “Hmmm. I’m not so sure about that”.
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