ESL Activity: Asking questions in present simple tense

ESL Activity: Asking questions in present simple tense

English speaking level: Beginner
Age group: 6th Primary
Materials needed: Flashcards, pens & information
Duration: 30 minutes

Here is an activity I used in a lot of my primary school classes when they were practicing the present tense. I especially liked it because it’s a way to practice asking questions.

I’ve found that students with good vocabularies and a strong grasp of grammar still have some difficulties with English sentence structure.

I wrote the names of famous people (celebrities, sports stars, painters, politicians, movie characters) on some notecards, and included basic information about each one. For example:

Card for present simple practice

Here are some other examples of people I’ve used:

  • Cristiano Renaldo
  • Lionel Messi
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Salvador Dalí
  • Taylor Swift
  • Ariana Grande
  • Justin Bieber

After explaining to the group that each card contained the name of a famous person, I asked them what types of questions they could ask to correctly guess the individual.

Here’s what I was looking for:

  • Is it a man or a woman?
  • What does he/she do for work? (Is she a singer? Does she play sports? Is she an actor?)
  • How old is he/she?
  • Where does he/she live?
  • What color hair has he/she got?
  • What color eyes has he/she got?

Next, I would pick a volunteer to begin, choose a card at random from the stack and give it to them. Most of the time they knew who the person was, but sometimes they didn’t and I would give them a new card.

Then the rest of the students could raise their hands to ask one of the questions we already went over. The person who guesses correctly wins the round, and gets to be the next person to draw a celebrity card.

** It’s important to make sure they ask enough questions before guessing. I ran into problems where the students would ask one question – “Is it a girl or a boy?” – and upon hearing the answer, begin shouting out the names of every female celebrity they know. For this to be effective practice, you need to make sure they go through all the questions BEFORE making guesses **

They seemed to enjoy this, and it creates a good opportunity to listen to the way they ask questions and make corrections on the spot.