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EFL - ESL activities and games for expressing necessity

An ESL lesson plan that teaches the different ways of expressing necessity in English. It includes a lead-in activity, along with several activities and games designed for low-resource classrooms. If you need to bring these materials into the classroom for reference, the TEFL Handbook app gives you offline access to all of the ESL resources on this site, plus a lot more.

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.

ESL classroom activities for expressing necessity

Keys to success

For this group speaking activity, the students will use the target language to explain how to achieve certain goals.

Elicit ideas from the class related to what you 'need to do' and what you 'shouldn't do' if you want to.

1. Become a doctor
2. Get rich
3. Get a girlfriend/boyfriend
4. Become a successful singer/actor
5. Before you move to another country

Insist that the students use the target grammar when volunteering their ideas.

Should I bring...?

The students make statements of necessity using the information from a table on the board.

Start by drawing a table on the board with the columns holidayconcertwedding and beach. Then populate it with the following items:

The beach: Sandwiches, suncream, a present
Music concert: Sunglasses, camera, some friends
Wedding: a pencil case, some money, suit
School: a mobile phone, football boots, packed lunch

Tell your students that the table shows a list of things that a person brought to a past event. In pairs, have them make sentences about what that person didn't have to bring and what they should have brought. Write one example on the board:

They didn't have to bring a present to the beach. They should have brought a pair of sunglasses instead.

Activity mime

A speaking activity where students have to mime and describe a process to their classmates.

One at a time, a student will come to the front of the class to act out the series of actions needed to complete a simple task. Encourage the students to talk about what they are doing and why they need to do it. Add other actors to the scene if needed. For example, shop assistant, waiter etc.:

1. Going on holiday.
2. Having a meal in a restaurant.
3. Making coffee.
4. Making a pizza.
5. Getting ready for school.
6. Buying a new pair of jeans.

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Related games

Here is one suggestion for a fun ESL classroom game for practising necessity with elementary level students. As usual, we only use ideas that suit low-resource classrooms.

20 Questions: Modal verbs of necessity 

Players have to ask yes/no questions to determine which occupation their classmate is thinking about. 

On each turn, a student will come to the front of the room to describe a specific job in terms of its obligations and duties. The other students will take turns asking questions and attempting to guess the occupation: 

Student A: Do you have to wear a uniform? 
Student B: Yes, I do. 
Student A: Are you a policeman? 

Depending on the strength of the class, this activity may work better if you elicit and create a list of occupations on the board before you start: 

Shop assistant 
Policeman/ police officer 

More A2 level ESL lesson plans

We hope that you've found a few of these ideas useful. Our suggested next lesson is on indefinite pronouns. Be sure to check out our complete list of elementary level ESL lesson plans, A2 lower and A2 upper, as well as our entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Also, if you are an iOS or Android user, this lesson plan is available for free on the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers.

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