The famous four skills

The famous four skills

Teaching tip

There are plenty of mini activities which practise the four skills speaking, listening, reading and writing.


Speaking – Guessing games are good opportunities for speaking.

I spy is a great no-preparation speaking game. I spy, with my little eye something beginning with ‘p’. Students have to look around the room and identify something beginning with that letter: Paper? Pencil? Poster? Pen?



Guess what’s in my house? Students describe something in their house and other students have to guess the object.

Guess who I’m thinking of? Students describe a famous person and other students have to guess who it is.

Listening – Whispers.

Whisper a sentence to one of the students. This student then has to pass on the sentence to the next student and so on around the class. When it arrives at the last student, you can check how the sentence has changed (or not!). Rather than just use one sentence, why not whisper a second sentence (or a third or fourth sentence?) around the class room at one-minute intervals?

Reading – Two halves.

Give each student a slip of paper. Ask them to open their course book at any page and copy out an easy sentence of more than 8 words. Check the sentences are correctly written. Cut each sentence in half, mix them up and lay them all out on one table. Together, students match up the two parts of each sentence.

Writing – Short messages.

Ask students to write a short message to another student about their plans for that evening or the weekend or the summer holidays. Or ask them to write what they did last week. Exchange texts. This gives the recipient some reading practice, and the chance to find out more about their co-students.

And an exercise for all skills – Ask students to write a short text (just two or three lines), whatever you think is best - it could be an anecdote or a description of somebody or their dreams for the future. If you have beginners, you could ask students to write about things they like and don’t like. Collect all the texts and then distribute them at random. Students read the new text out loud to the class. The other students listen and decide who has written that text. The students comment on the text and say what they thought was interesting or funny. (Encourage questions, if possible.)

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