This is a conversation class to practice different forms of giving advice for B1 – B2 students.
Put on the board:
You should quit smoking
You ought to quit smoking
You had better quit smoking
Put students in small groups and tell them to think about the difference between the 3 sentences. Then have them share their ideas.
should and ought to are basically synonyms although ought to is generally more formal, they are used for giving advice: It would be a good idea if you quit smoking.
had better has a slightly different meaning; it implies that if the advice is not followed something bad could happen. In this context maybe the speaker could be a doctor warning a patient about the results of a recent test.
In this way had better can also be used to threaten:
1: Hey! Where’s that money you owe me?
2: I’ll pay you on Monday.
1: You had better.
Here had better contains the implication of violence.
The grammatical form is as follows:
subject + should / ought to / had better + bare infinitive (infinitive without to)
The negatives are as follows:
You shouldn’t smoke.
You ought not to smoke.
You had better not smoke.
To warm the students up present them with a simple problem that you have, for example: I want to get fit / It’s my partner’s birthday, what should I buy them?
Have the students give advice for these situations.
Then tell students that there are other ways of giving advice, try and elicit the following conditionals:
If I were you, I would / n’t………….
If I were in your shoes, I would / n’t…………
Then give out the following situations for advise, have the first student read out the situation as if it was a genuine personal problem, other students then give them advice. After each situations ask the discussion questions listed below the situations.
- I have a friend who is really tight-fisted. Every time that we go out for a drink or a meal he says he hasn’t got any money or he mysteriously disappears to the toilet when the bill arrives. At first we thought “poor John he never has any money”, but he works 6 days a week so he must have some money. What should we do?
- My best friend is always flirting with my girlfriend. He always pays her lots of compliments like “Wow! You look fantastic tonight!” Also when we go to parties he often asks her to dance. It’s making me really angry. What should I do?
- I share a flat with a friend and she keeps borrowing my things without asking. At first it was just little things like books and DVDs but now she’s started borrowing my clothes and when I want to wear my favourite dress for example, I find it on her bedroom floor unwashed! What should I do?
- I have invited 20 people over for a big dinner party, they are arriving in 20 minutes. I was going to cook a big roast turkey but I put the oven temperature too high and it burned! The dinner is ruined! What should I do?
Discussion questions for first situation:
- Do you have any tight-fisted friends?
- What do they do?
- What is the custom when it comes to paying the bill in your country?
- Have you ever had an argument over a restaurant bill?
- Who has a problem in this situation?
- Is the speaker right to feel angry?
- Who is to blame for the anger?
- Have you or any of your friends ever been in this situation?
- Are you a jealous person?
- Have you ever been in a situation like this?
- Do you lend things to friends? Why? Why not?
- Do you borrow things from friends? Why? Why not?
- Have you ever lived in a shared house? What problems did you encounter?
- Have you ever been in this situation?
- What did you do?
- What was the worst meal you ever cooked?
Another game to practice this is the following:
Send one student out of the classroom. All the other students have to think of an imaginary problem that he / she has. Invite the student to come back in and sit at the front of the class. The student must guess what their problem is based on the advice they receive from their classmates.
If your students aren’t very imaginative you can use these situations:
- I have two VIP tickets to see Barcelona vs Real Madrid on the same night as my mother in law’s 50th birthday party.
- I found a wallet in the street with €2000 in it.
- I am a great chef, I want to open 300 restaurants and get rich but I have no money.
- I got very drunk at the office Christmas party and kissed my boss.
- My best friend’s ex girlfriend wants to go on a date with me.
- I am the manager of a big company. I have a vacancy for a salesman and my son wants the job, but he has no experience.
- I saw my best friend’s girlfriend kiss another man.
Class discussion about advice
Afterwards discuss the following questions about advice as a class:
- Who do you go to for advice?
- Do they give good advice? Why? Why not?
- Who comes to you for advice?
- Do you give good advice?
- Do you follow your friend’s advice?
- What’s the best / worst advice you’ve ever received?
- Does advice help? Or do most people ignore it?
- Sometimes advice can make you less decisive. Do you agree?
- Do you think some people are too proud to ask for advice?