Teaching Tips…Functional Language for Advice

Language for Giving Advice


As mentioned in the previous Teaching Tips blog, another popular subject to teach is functional language. In this blog, the focus will be on a lesson taught on offering suggestions and advice to people with (often bizarre) travel plans.

Firstly, be it through a course book or any other means, students will have discovered a variety of phrases we use when giving advice. For this lesson, those include the following; If I were you I’d…., Be careful when…, It’s a good idea…, Don’t forget to…., Make sure you…, You’d better…, and Whatever you do…

Once the target sentences have been drilled and the students have had some written practice, they will be ready for speaking.

To elicit some possible sentences, tell them you are going to do an activity, eg.

“I’m going to the North Pole.”

Board the start of some of the target sentences:

  • If I were you I’d…
  • Whatever you do…

Use those to elicit some suggestions or advice for your trip:

  • If I were you I’d take a very warm coat.
  • Whatever you do don’t go swimming!

[image width=”100%” height=”38%” src=”https://ihbangkok.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Smaller-Size.jpg” alt=”Giving Advice” style=”no-style” position=”below”]

Instructions for practice:

  • Hand each Student one activity to slip and have them think about the questions they should ask. Activity slips can include anything, the stranger the better at this point, some of mine have included, climbing Bayoke tower, swimming across the Chao Phraya River and walking from Bangkok to Beijing.
  • Hand each Student an advice slip. Tell them they will walk around the room and ask for and give each other advice on their activities. However, they can only give advice using the phrase on their advice slip. Encourage Students to ask multiple/follow up questions to each other. (ie: what if I meet a polar bear?)
  • When two Students have finished giving each other advice they must exchange advice slips so they end up with a new phrase for when they talk to the next person (This should be demonstrated with a student before beginning the task).
  • OBJECTIVE: to find out who gives the best advice!
  • Allow time for the students to mingle and exchange advice- it is ok for students to ask the same person twice as different slips may lead to different suggestions.
  • Monitor for pronunciation and sentence stress along with well-expressed ideas.
  • Get students results in feedback and find out who gives the best advice in the whole class!


Some interesting advice from students in one my classes:

When asked for advice for a vacation in the Sahara Desert, one student suggested, “If I were you I wouldn’t go there.”

When one students asked what he should do if he needs the toilet while climbing Mount Everest, his classmate told him, “Make sure you wear pampers!”

Some more thoughtful, if not so helpful advice from another to someone who was going to climb Baiyoke Tower, “Don’t forget to bring your MP3!” Even the small things count!

Once this practice is over and feedback taken, have students come up with their own planned activities and then ask for advice in pairs. Pairs can be rotated and again the best advice recorded in feedback. This class works well with all kinds of groups, general English and even business English (with the focus more on business plans in this case).