Using "Would You Rather" Questions in the Classroom
Would you rather be in class or at the park? Go to space or explore the ocean? Have a party or just relax around the house?
"Would you rather" questions are an excellent way to give your ESL students practice with both grammar and speaking.
I would recommend beginning your lesson with the following steps:
a- Teach the following sentence structure:
I would rather ______ than _______.
b- Write a simple, “Would you rather” question on the board. Some students may understand the question, but emphasize that they focus on using the correct grammatical structure.
c- Ask students to write their answer in a full sentence in their notebooks.
d- Tell them to underline the words, “would rather,” and “than,” and remind them to always use these words in their responses.
e- Circle the room, and have each student read their full sentence.
f- If students make a grammar mistakes, prompt them to self-correct.
Student: I would rather eating than drinking.
Teacher: You would rather...?
Then smile knowingly and wait for a correction.)
g- Repeat the exercise at least twice with different questions: Allow students to write their responses the first time, but not the second time. Continue to prompt them to self-correct. The structure doesn’t change, so it should become automatic and fun.
Active Practice Activities
After your class has the sentence structure down, it’s time to practice using it. Here are a few ideas that you might consider:
a- Have students come up to the front of the room, and pick a surprise “would you rather” question from your classroom conversation box. Have them respond to the question, and explain their choice. (I would rather ____ than _____ because _____.)
b- Do a survey activity: Ask each student to think of a “would you rather” question that they would like to ask classmates. Have them write their questions at the top of a piece of paper, and create a chart to record classmates’ responses, and reasons. Allow them time to walk around, mingle, and record responses.
c- Conduct some mini-debates. These can work well with both silly, absurd questions and serious, realistic ones. Divide the class into teams, and have each team support one side of the argument. Teams should make a list of points to back up their arguments, and then present them to the class. It helps to record your points on the board. After the debates, take a class vote on which side of the argument they genuinely agree with.
I created the following list of questions to you get started:
1. Would your rather eat chocolate or potato chips?
2. Would you rather watch a movie or go dancing?
3. Would you rather study English or Math today?
4. … study English or play video games?
5. … live in a big house in the suburbs or a tiny apartment in an exciting neighborhood in the city?
6. … work in an office or work outdoors?
7. … live in a cold climate or live in a hot climate?
8. … have too much air conditioning or too much heat?
9. … go shopping or hiking?
10.… go skydiving or scuba diving?
11.… go to Australia or to Alaska?
12.… talk about politics or celebrities?
13.… talk about your problems or talk about your friend’s problems?
14.… go to a museum or to an amusement park?
15.… eat breakfast or skip breakfast?
16.… eat healthy food or junk food?
17.… have an IPhone or an IPad?
18.… give or receive?
19.…play video games with friends or alone?
20.… be able to speak perfect English or be able to talk to animals?
21.… do homework in a quiet place, or do homework with music on?
1. Would you rather be male or female?
2. Would you rather be poor and happy or rich and unhappy?
3. …have a safe but mundane lifestyle, or a dangerous, exciting lifestyle?
4. … get plastic surgery and look amazing, or not get plastic surgery, and look plain and boring?
5. … be safe at home or risk your life and join the army?
6. … be popular and be the same as everyone else, or be unpopular but unique?
7. … have your dream job, or be rich and never have to go to work?
8. … find your soul mate or find a billion dollars?
Silly, Playful Questions
1. Would you rather be permanently bald or always have floor-length hair?
2. … always have a big smile on your face, or always have a big frown?
3. … be a vampire or a ghost?
4. … get a tattoo on your face, or get metal spikes in your head?
5. … have a pet tiger or a pet elephant?
6. … be able to fly or have an invisibility cloak?
7. … have the ability to be invisible or have the ability to be invincible?
8. … talk in a very deep voice or in a high-pitched, squeaky voice?
9. …never write with a pen or pencil again, or never type again?
10 ...be human or be immortal?
Looking for more speaking prompts?
- In Your Country | a blog of ideas for ESL teachers
Visit my ESL teaching blog! I post lots of interactive speaking activities, conversation questions, and ideas to liven up the classroom.
jackieb99 on October 08, 2015:
I really enjoyed your would you rather activity. My students in South Korea really enjoyed them!
Lucia on March 18, 2014:
Siri on July 18, 2013:
Thank you for share your idea!
I used your to my class they really fun and appreciated.
lots of thanks
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on December 26, 2012:
You have some very good ideas for class activities on making grammar fun. I especially like your idea of dividing the class into teams for minidebates. Music is another enjoyable way for students to learn grammar. Just imagine what you could do with "If I had a hammer" by Peter, Paul, and Mary in teaching conditionals. Voted up and interesting and sharing with followers.