Discussion Words – with Quick Questions


1 set of word cards per small group.


T prepares the target vocabulary words – one set for each small group. Each word should be on an individual small piece of card or paper. The vocabulary could be:

  • words suggested by SS – as in Mode 1
  • keywords from a text – as in Mode 2
  • words from a particular vocabulary set – as in Mode 3


1. T gives out a set of cards to each group and asks them to put all the cards out on the table so that everybody can see them all. Then SS put them into two groups – words they know and words they don’t know.

2. T asks SS to shout out words they don’t know. Other SS in other groups help by giving definitions or translations. T reminds SS to use dictionaries and write down the new words.

3. T asks SS to put the words into alphabetical order. This helps them to remember words they have just learned, because they are focusing on them again. T asks SS from different groups to read out part of their list. T writes incorrectly pronounced words on the board and draws SS’s attention to them. T drills the words with the SS from A-Z. T says each word once, then the whole group repeats it.

4. T or a SS could ask comprehension questions about the words, any or all of the following:

General Questions:

a) Find and put into groups… a) compound nouns, b) words with suffixes.
b) Find words that… a) begin with a vowel sound, b) end with a vowel sound, c) begin
with a consonant sound, d) end with a consonant sound. Put them into sound groups.
c) Find words that contain silent letters (letters which are not pronounced).
d) Put words and phrases that contain the same sounds into groups, using Clear Alphabet.
The following questions could be prepared by T, or SS could spend part of the lesson writing them, then swap their questions with another group or pair:

Questions Specific to the Discussion Words:

a) Which word or phrase sounds like ________?
b) Define ________.
c) Find a word or phrase that has a weak stress schwa sound on the ________ (e.g. 2nd) syllable.
d) Put words and phrases that do not contain a schwa sound into a group.
e) Which word / phrase means ________? (synonyms or descriptive phrases)
f) Choose a word that completes this sentence: ________.
g) Complete these collocations with discussion words…

…and so on.


  • It would be easy for T to make up the questions for this activity ‘on the fly’ using a few of the question templates above, without any preparation. Or, stronger SS could try to improvise some questions for their group or the whole class.
  • T could make this a team activity by giving points to the team or pair that produces the answer the quickest, or suggests the best or funniest answer. T could give prizes to the winning team(s) as well as for effort.