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Deciding a City to Live In

An Engaging Speaking Activity

by Gülnihal Aytekin Yuksel |

This speaking activity helps students work in a group, ask the right questions to learn about living in a city, and discuss their ideas in a group. It is a suitable activity to enhance student engagement as it promotes group work and student autonomy, and it nurtures inner motivation like interest and enjoyment.

Audience: Adult, Secondary, University

Audience Language Proficiency: Intermediate

Duration: 50 minutes

Materials And Technology:
  • computer
  • projector
  • board
  • board marker(s)


This activity aims to provide practice of the vocabulary and grammar of a unit about city Life. In addition, this speaking activity allows students to make their own decisions according to their interests, express their ideas in a group and listen to others, and do research on a topic.


At the end of this activity, the students will be able to use most of the language about introducing a city (geographical location, language, climate, etc.). In addition, they will be able to ask questions about living in a city, and to use the forms of ‘like’.

Activity Description:

Vocabulary to be reviewed: describing a city:

  • It’s (amazing/ frightening/ wonderful/ quiet/ beautiful) …
  • It has clean air, a hot and wet climate, lakes, a mountain range, a rainforest, a desert, a river, an ocean, wildlife,…
  • It has clean, safe streets/ beautiful buildings /good shopping/ nightlife.
  • It is very polluted/ crowded,…
  • It’s expensive to live there.
  • The public transport system is terrible/ wonderful,…
  • The people are friendly and polite/ rude, …
  • There’s a lot of traffic.
  • There are nice parks and green spaces / lots of things to see and do, …

Grammar to be reviewed: Uses of like

  • What’s the weather/ the public transport/Istanbul/… like?
  • Do you like living in Madrid/going out in the evening/…?

1. Preparation: Teacher chooses a few cities for the activity. The names of the cities may or may not be well-known. If the teacher knows the class well, s/he may determine the names according to their interests. Teacher may find and print/project some pictures of each city using

2. T puts the names of these cities up on the board and make the students choose cards with shapes on them so that the ones with the same shape come together to make small groups. (2 minutes)

(eg: Madrid, Dublin, Toronto, Budapest, Amsterdam)

3. T asks students in groups to share any information they know about the cities. (5 minutes)

4. T wanders around and listens to the students. When a student repeatedly makes the same mistake, T joins the conversation and adds their opinion just to use the correct form/word in a sentence.

5. Once they have had a few minutes to discuss, T gets the students to call out information and write any information they give up on the board (at this stage, the teacher accepts information even it is incorrect) ( 3 minutes)

6. T shares the information on the board with the class. T ignores minor spelling mistakes. (3 minutes)

7. T tells the students to imagine that they are going to live and work in one of those cities for a year. (1 minute)

8. T tells students to think about the questions they would like to ask a person who has worked in that city for three years, and knows the city (so that they can recall the language and vocabulary about life in a city, then prioritize the things according to their needs and interests). (1 minute)

9. Before they start discussion, T elicits some questions from the students. (Possible questions: What’s the weather/ the people like in …? Does it have a good transport system? Is it expensive to live there?/… ) If there are not enough questions, T adds some. T tries to be careful about not to give all the questions, but to determine that the students get the idea. (3 minutes)

10. T tells the students to write at least 8 questions down, and lets the students discuss the questions. T monitors when the students are talking. If T feels that the groups do not have enough questions to discuss, s/he reminds some points like “Have you thought about its weather? / Is traffic important for you when you choose to live in a city? (8 minutes)

11. T wants each group to choose a card on which a city name is written. Then T tells each group to do research about it in order to find out answers to their questions.  (If you have access to computers or other information resources in your school, then they could do this in class time. If not, set this task for homework as an individual work) (10-13 minutes)

12. T monitors. If a group needs help, T guides by offering the websites.

Here are some possible sources of information:

13. After the groups find the answers, T wants them to share the information with the class. All the class listens to a group’s questions and their answers. (6 minutes)

14. T asks the students which city they would like to work for a year and why. T shares their decision, too. (5 minutes)

TESOL Interest Section: Adult Education, English as a Foreign Language, Higher Education, Teacher Education

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