Are you looking for a fun speaking and listening ESL activity related to advice? Then you’ll want to consider Agony Aunt. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about this popular English activity for children, teenagers or adults.
Before we get into all the teaching tips, tricks and procedures for using this fun advice activity in your English classes, have a look at this overview of Agony Aunt.
Agony Aunt Giving Advice ESL Activity
Time: 15-20 minutes
Level: High-beginner to Advanced (kids, teens, or adults)
Materials: Printed advice column questions and answers
Agony Aunt is one of my favourite ESL speaking and listening activities. It will get your students talking because everyone knows how to solve other people’s problems!
Where To Find the Problems?
If your students are a bit more advanced, you can use actual advice columns. These can easily be found by searching on the Internet for “advice column” etc. The lower the students’ level, the more you’ll need to grade the language, or you can write your own advice column. It doesn’t take too long to do this and you are able to choose topics that are very relevant to your students.
It’s a nice option for holiday lessons where people have problems that are common to many people. For example, someone’s friends pressuring them to always drink too much at the pub on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Spice up the Problem-Advice Unit with this Activity
The topic of problems and advice is a bit overdone in the ESL textbooks. By this I mean that you’ll find this same topic in almost every single 4-skills textbook you come across. It can be a bit boring, so spice things up by introducing Agony Aunt, a fun twist on the routine.
Begin with a Discussion About Advice Columns
I’ve done several variations of this activity and it has always been a hit. I begin with an introduction that shows a few advice column letters and answers. Discuss them a bit—most students will be familiar with the concept. Then, give your students a copy of a letter (not the same one from the introduction).
Version 1 of Agony Aunt:
All the students receive the same letter. Each person has 3-8 minutes (depending on the level) to come up with some advice (separately). The class has a short discussion about what advice each person would give and why. You can also have students discuss their advice in small groups if you have a larger class.
Version 2 of Agony Aunt:
All the students (small classes) or groups (big classes) receive a different letter. As above, each person/group is given time to read and think of some advice. You can begin the discussion time by having each person quickly summarize the problem they have read about, then give some advice and discuss that.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 85 Pages - 02/02/2020 (Publication Date)
Teaching Tip for Agony Aunt:
If you are familiar with local celebrities popular with your students, you can use current gossip to spice up the lesson. If X pop star has just had a public breakup, write a letter from that person asking for help getting back together, finding a new boyfriend, etc. For the men, a rumour of a football star being traded works well to get advice on how to improve that player’s game.
Use your imagination and knowledge about your students to think about what will be of interest to them.
Procedure for this ESL Speaking and Listening Activity:
- Show some level-appropriate advice column letters. Read them together and discuss them.
- All students get the same letter (not one from the introduction).
- Each person has to read the letter and come up with some advice (separately).
- Discuss each person’s advice.
- The students get different letters.
- Give time to read the letter and come up with some advice.
- Discuss the problems and their advice.
Do you Like this Agony Aunt Activity?
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 145 Pages - 03/10/2016 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent...
Yes? Thought so! Most teachers and students do.
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Well-Organized Into Sections
The best part is that the book is very well organized into different sections, ranging from speaking or listening to reading and writing, review, and more. You should be able to find what you’re looking for in under a minute. Now how’s that for some ESL lesson planning awesome, right?
Available in a Variety of Formats
You can get either the print copy or the digital one on Amazon. The (cheaper!) digital one can be read on any smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC by downloading the free Kindle reading app.
Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and pull it down to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the digital version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Yes, it really is that easy to have better English classes when you buy this book.
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Agony Aunt Examples
If you want to find some Agony Aunt letters and replies, or funny Agony Aunt letters, then here are some of my go-to sources that you can check out:
Agony Aunt Examples (pre-intermediate level)
Agony Aunt Letters (from Busyteacher.org)
Have your Say about Agony Aunt, an Activity for Getting and Giving Advice
What are your thoughts about this ESL speaking and listening activity? Have you tried it out with your students? Or, do you have another go-to activity that you like to use for problems and advice? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2022-08-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API