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 Survival Travel English: A basic course in EFL for travelers.

Making Plans

A Line-up Role-play


Time: 1 hour


The purpose of this lesson is to give false beginners the skills to call somebody and make plans or make excuses.

This lesson follows a simple format of an introduction and discussion, followed by a line-up activity.


The teacher will need to print off and photocopy the caller worksheet and the receiver worksheet.


Tell the students that they will be making plans. Before explaining anything, give one student a note on which something like the following is written:

Call _______ and ask him to go to a movie Saturday night.

Another student's name should be written in the blank. Make the student actually pick up an imaginary phone and dial. Then you, the teacher, say, "Bringgg. Bringgg." and point to the person whose name is in the blank. Hopefully that person will be surprised but will still pick up their imaginary phone.

Listen carefully to how your students approach the task that has been set for them and record their conversation on the board as it is happening (or just after).

Usually, I find the conversation is very basic, lacks any sophistication and is very to the point. (Again, I teach false beginners).


Now that the conversation is written on the board, you can go through and make suggestions. Did they exchange greetings properly? Did the caller jump right to asking about going to the movies? Or was there some requisite small talk first: How are you doing these days? Did they remember to set a time and place to meet? Did the receiver show some enthusiasm at the proposal?

Now have another pair of students try it out. If all goes well this time have a third pair try it out but stop them when the caller asks if the receiver is busy. What if the receiver is busy? What could she say? Or what if the receiver isn't busy, but then doesn't really want to do the proposed activity? Flat out refusing a request might make the caller feel bad so you can discuss how to make excuses. Give them some pragmatic competence. In the role-play that follows students are supposed to say, " Oh! I just remembered I have to . . . " if they want to make an excuse.

Role-play Activity:

Now, comes the real focus of the class: a line-up activity to practice making plans. Divide the class into two groups: callers and receivers.  Give each group their respective worksheets. Callers have to check off ten things that they would like to do. Receivers will check off five things that they don't want to do. Callers will make calls and asks receivers to do the activities that the callers checked off. If the receivers are not busy and they want to do the activity (i.e. the receivers didn't check it off), then the receivers accept the proposal and both parties negotiate a time and place and record the information on their worksheets.

Class setup is very important for this. Basically, the class is setup so that there are two lines of chairs. The receivers will face the wall and the callers will sit behind them. See the picture above. The receivers should have their names pasted onto the back of their chairs if the students are not too familiar with each other.

Callers will go to a receiver and tap on that receivers shoulder and say, "Bring! Bring!" Receivers will answer and they will either make plans to do something or the receiver will make an excuse. After they hang up the phone, the caller stands up and waits for  the next available chair behind a receiver and tries the conversation again. As more and more phone calls are being made the schedules should start filling up and it will become harder and harder for the students to negotiate a time to meet. This will present them with a new task:

A: Are you busy on Tuesday evening.

B: Yes, sorry. I have plans with Minsu. How about Wednesday afternoon?

A: No, I'm busy on Wednesday.


Back to Survival English!


  Students Line-up so that they can't see each other.

 Receivers face away from the callers.


Target Language:

Jim: Hello.

Susan: Hello. Is Jim there please?

Jim: Speaking.

Susan: Hi, Jim. This is Susan. How are you doing these days?

Jim: Good. What's up?

Susan: Are you busy on Friday evening?

Jim: No, I'm free. Why?

Susan: Would you like to have dinner together?

Jim: Sounds good. What time would you like to meet?

Susan: How about 7:00?

Jim: 7:00 is fine. Where would you like to meet?

Susan: Why don't we meet in front of Antico's Italian Restaurant?

Jim: Sounds good. See you there.

Susan: Great. Bye.