Fortunately/Unfortunately Speaking and Listening Activity

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Speaking and listening activity

I love to have a few no-prep, no materials required ESL activities in my back pocket. I’m sure everyone does who sets foot in a classroom! After all, you never really know when you’re going to get a last-minute class thrown at you, or have a few extra minutes at the end of class with nothing planned.

Fortunately, Unfortunately is a quick, fun ESL activity to try out that takes just a couple of minutes. It’s also ideal for private 1-1 teaching as a warm-up.

Fortunately/Unfortunately: How to Do It

Skills: Speaking/listening
Age: 9+
Materials Required: None

You may have done this speaking and listening activity at school yourself. Start of by telling students some good news (something that “happened to you”) followed by some bad news. I generally pick something that happened on my way to school that morning, or the previous night.

For example, “Unfortunately, my car wouldn’t start this morning. Fortunately, my neighbour gave me a ride to school. Unfortunately, she drove through a red light. Fortunately. . .”

Students will then generate similar language using fortunately/unfortunately or luckily/unluckily. If you have a small class, or teach a student privately, just do it together.

However, for bigger classes, you may want to put students into pairs or groups of three so that you can increased their student talking time.

Procedure for this ESL Activity:

1. Divide students into small groups of 2-3.
2. Give them a scenario (something that “happened to you”), alternating between good and bad news. For example, “Unfortunately, my car wouldn’t start this morning. Fortunately, my neighbour gave me a ride to school. Unfortunately, she drove through a red light. Fortunately. . .”
3. Have students take turns within their groups adding one element at a time. Each addition should change the story from good to bad or vice versa.
4. Give students a time limit (4-5 minutes or so) or have them take 2-3 turns around the circle.

Fortunately/Unfortunately in Action

Learn more about this quick ESL warm-up or filler activity in the short video below:

Like this ESL Speaking Activity?

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Have your Say!

What are your thoughts about this ESL speaking activity? Or, do you have a go-to activity that you use to practice this vocabulary point? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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