EFL - ESL activities and games for expressing possibility with 'may' and 'might'

An ESL lesson plan for teaching elementary level students (A2) how to express possibility in English. This lesson plan includes suggested board work, several activities, a game and a collection of specially selected ESL resources from around the web. And don't forget, if you use an Android device, you can get offline access to these materials through the TEFL Handbook app.

Lead-in activity

The board work below shows one way to step through and introduce the target language for this lesson. Write each of the functional uses on the board and confirm that your students understand them. If possible, confirm in L1. Next, for each functional use elicit some example sentences. Use the colour-coded text to determine what you should attempt to elicit.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity expressing possibility | Elementary

ESL classroom activities for expressing possibility

Hmm...I might...

This fun ESL speaking activity should get your students off the ground with these modal verbs. One at a time, students come to the front of the class to describe an object to the room. They'll have to describe it by talking about what they may or may not do with it. You can work from the following list or choose your own. Demo it a couple of times first. Also, make sure that students don’t use their hands:

Campsite
Sandwich
Money
Keys
Helicopter
Desk
Boat
Bridge
Snowboard
Castle
Shorts
Guitar
Mp3 player
Email

What might have happened?

We continue with another creative ESL speaking activity. Divide the board into quarters, in each quarter draw one of the following scenarios:

1. Girl angry with her boyfriend.
2. A person lying dead on the floor of a house.
3. An old woman running through the streets screaming ‘yeeeeaaahhhhh!’
4. A house on fire as a guilty child looks on.

In groups of three or four, students speculate as to what might have happened. After they've had a few minutes to discuss amongst themselves, the class comes together to talk about each one.

Back in the day

You should be able to generate some entertaining discussion with this ESL activity. In pairs, students compare and contrast life 1000 years ago with the current day.

How might they have done some of the simple things that we do now?

Try to elicit the following and add them to the board:

Had a shower
Cleaned their teeth
Went on a date
Listened to music
Shopped for food
Reported a crime

You can do this as a written or oral exercise.

Related ESL games

As usual, our suggestions for ESL classroom games require the minimum of resources (whiteboard and markers).

ESL stopwatch challenge: Possible futures

Students are given a topic about the future and have to talk for as long as possible using the modal verbs they have learned in this lesson. Divide the class into two teams. On each turn, give a student a topic or question about the future. Next, time the student with a stopwatch while they try to talk for as long as possible. Award 5 bonus seconds for each correct usage of a modal verb and 20 bonus seconds for using all three (may, might and could). Stop the watch when they run out of steam. Some questions and topics to get you started:

1. What would happen if we brought back dinosaurs?
2. Do you think people will live on Mars one day?
3. What would you do if you met your idol?
4. What would you do if an asteroid hit the planet earth?
5. What would you do if you could never use the internet again?
6. What do you think the world will be like in 100 years?
7. What would happen if we created AI?
8. What would you do if you become the next President/Prime Minister?
9. If you could choose to come back as any animal, what would it be?

More A2 level ESL lesson plans

We hope that you were able to grab a few ideas from this lesson plan. Our suggested next lesson focuses Necessity. Be sure to check out our full list of elementary ESL lesson plans, A2 lower and A2 upper. For a broader range of language levels, you can browse the complete collection.

Are you an Android user? Then you should give our app a go! The TEFL Handbook app has over 100 lesson plans, 300+ ESL activities, over 100 ideas for games and has been designed for the ESL the classroom.

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