ESL Speaking Activity: Tell a Friend How to Lose Weight

Tell your friend how to lose weight, what to eat (or not), what exercise to do and any other advice that you think your friend will need. Use commands to give your friend advice.


Don’t eat…


Don’t exercise…




Example commands that you could tell your friend:
1. Eat broccoli three times a day.
2. Exercise for three hours a day.
3. Don’t exercise after you eat.
4. Walk to work.
5. Drink a protein shake in the morning.

ESL Speaking Activity: Telling Someone What To Do

Imagine that you are at work or school and calling someone (wife, mother, sister, brother, son, etc) at your home. You are calling to tell them everything they have to do before you get home.

Try to think of at least 10 ideas.

1. You need to cook lunch by 1pm. I am bringing a friend over.
2. You need to wash the dishes by the time I get home.
3. You need to take the dog for a walk before I get home from work.
4. You need to pick the kids up from school by 3pm.
5. You need to go to the pharmacy and pick up my medicine before I get home from the work.

Tell more than one person what they have to do before you get home. What you tell your mother, teenage son and your grandfather would be very different.

ESL Speaking & Writing Practice With Pictures

Pictures are a helpful tool or resource when you are learning English. There are countless things you can do with pictures to improve your speaking, writing and listening skills. Use the four picture below to help you practice speaking and writing.

Do the following activities:

1. Make up 5 questions you have about each picture or questions you have for the person in the picture.

2. Make up a short story about what you think is going on or going to happen in each picture.

3. State five facts or observations about each picture.

Picture 1:






Picture 2:









Picture 3:






Picture 4:








Please share some of your questions or ideas that you came up with about the pictures in the comments below.

How to answer “What do you do?” in English


When you are having a conversation in English the question “what do you do?” usually comes up rather quickly. It is usually the second or third question you will be asked when you meet a new person. 

“What do you do?” most commonly means:
• “What is your job?”
• “What do you work in?”
• “What is your career?”

Sometimes people answer this question by asking a question like; “You mean, what is my job?”

Everyone has a different answer and there is no real formula to answering this question. Focus on telling the person you are talking to something interesting about you or your work. It could be what you are learning or interested in doing and not just about your boring office job.

Remember, when people ask you, “What do you do?” it is not a job interview and they do not want to know every single little thing you do at work. It is common to generalize. If the person wants to continue having a conversation about this subject that will ask you more questions.

Below are 30 possible answers to the question ‘What do you do?’:

1. I work at the circus… I mean, I am a preschool teacher.
2. I teach adults from all over the world to speak English.
3. I am self-employed.
4. I work for myself. I sell a variety of lotions and perfumes.
5. I am an entrepreneur. I run three small businesses online.
6. I am a carpenter and work part-time as a fireman.
7. I work as a paralegal. Basically, I call crazy people all day long.
8. I give people money that they didn’t know they have… or what is commonly known as an accountant.
9. I am a stay-at-home-mom. So, I have fun will my kids all day.
10. I’m unemployed but I used to work for a large company.
11. I am professional coffee drinker.
12. I am studying to be an engineer. I work part time at a family business.
13. I am a student. So, I spend most my time going to class and work part time at a gym.
14. I am a waitress right now but I am looking for something new.
15. I am a police officer.
16. I help find new homes for rescued and abused animals.
17. Right now, I am studying to be a Zumba teacher. I love to work out and dance.
18. I’m paid to travel around the world; which I love. I am a flight attendant.
19. Well, I surf a lot and find whatever work I can to get by.
20. I’m in high school. I’m on the swim team and in the honor choir.
21. I work downtown at a marketing firm.
22. I just graduated with my B.A. So, I’m job searching right now.
23. I educate victims of domestic violence. I help them create safety plans and leave abusive relationships.
24. I work in accounting but at night I play guitar in a rock band.
25. I work in Logan Park as a criminal lawyer.
26. I work in a cube and spend my day on Facebook and YouTube.
27. It’s kind of complicated… but basically I work in the pharmaceutical sales industry.
28. I don’t work. I live at home with my parents and am finishing my studies at North University.
29. I lift heavy objects for rich people.
30. I am writing a book and work part time at a coffee shop.

So, next time someone asks you, “What do you do?”  be more creative and let your personality shine through in your answer. The person that you are speaking with will be interested in what you have to say and will want to continue the conversation with you.

Business English: Telephone Phrases and Etiquette

Do you have good telephone etiquette (or manners) at work? Do you know the right thing to say when answering the phone in English? Do you get nervous when you have to call a business and speak English?

Speaking on the phone and having proper business telephone etiquette in English is something that takes practice. It is difficult to do because you can’t see the person that is speaking. You have to train your ears to listen closely in English to what the caller is saying or asking for. Below you will find many common English phrases that are used when calling a business or answering a business’s phone.

Answering the Phone:
• Good Morning, Thank you for calling ABC Company. How can I help you today?
• Good afternoon, this is Stephanie. How may I direct your call?
• Thank you for calling Peterson’s.
• Marketing Department. Evelyn Speaking. How may I help you this afternoon?

Asking for the Caller’s Name:
• Who’s calling?
• Can I get your name, please?

Introducing Yourself:
• This is Kelly Erickson from West Marketing.
• Hi, this Paloma from Tidy Cleaning Service.
• Hello, my name is Janet. I am one of your customers.


Asking to Speak with Someone:
• Is Paulo Rodriguez available?
• Can I speak to the head of the marketing department?
• Is Mary Smith there?
• I’d like to speak to the person in charge of the upcoming Gala.

Person Caller Wants to Talk to Someone that is Not Available:

• Mr. Berg is not taking calls right now. Can I take a message?
• I’m sorry, Ms. Thorsen is in a meeting until 10. Would you like to call back again later?
• Jonathan is out today. Can I forward you to his voicemail?
• He’s with a patient right now. Would you like to hold?
• She’s on the phone now. Can I have her call you back later?

Transferring/Connecting the Caller to Another Person:

• Please hold, while I connect you to him.
• I’ll put you through to Mr. Shapiro’s phone. If you get disconnected for some reason his direct extension is 4562.
• I’m connecting you right now.

• I’m sorry I can’t hear you. Could you speak a little louder?
• I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you repeat yourself?
• Could you please spell that?
• I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.

Ending a call:
• Thank you for calling North Star Roofing. Have a great day.
• Thanks for calling, Mr. James. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
• Have a nice day.
• Be sure to contact me if you have any more problems.
• Don’t hesitate to call again.


The English phrases above should give you a few more ideas of how to have proper business phone etiquette in English.

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