Tell Me, Ask Me, Talk About

Ross Sampson,

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Vocabulary, questions, topics, accuracy, fluency
  • Learner English level: Any
  • Learner maturity: Junior high school to adult
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Activity time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Materials: Pre-made cards

This simple-to-prepare and run activity is beneficial for almost any learners of any level. The goal of the activity is to encourage learners to challenge each other to think of many words, to make grammatically accurate questions and answers, and to improve their fluency by talking about various topics without worrying about grammar.


Step 1: Get many pieces of scrap paper as ‘cards’.

Step 2: Make three types of cards including: Type 1 – letters of the alphabet, Type 2 – question words, Type 3 – speaking fluency topics.

Step 3: Write the three task prompts on the board. These correspond to the card types (Appendix 1). Prompt 1: “Tell me _____ words starting with _____.” Students choose the number of words their group member must name. Prompt 2: “Ask me a _____ question.” Students choose a classmate to form a question with the question word on the card. Prompt 3: “Talk about _____ for 1 minute.” Students choose a classmate to talk about the topic on the card.

Step 4: Make 4 or 5 sets of the same cards for groups of students.


Step 1: Put the students into groups of 3-5. Then, put one set of cards on each group’s table. Instruct the students to spread the cards out all over the table but to not turn them over to look at them yet.

Step 2: Show students an example (see Appendix 1) on the board. Explain each card type as vocabulary, accuracy, and fluency practice. You could also confirm with students what each of these means. 

Step 3: Tell the class that if a student picks up a card with a letter on it, then they have to choose a groupmate and ask the Type 1 prompt. Demonstrate this with a student volunteer. Repeat this for Type 2 and Type 3 cards (see Appendix 2).

Step 4: Ask ICQs (Instruction Check Questions), such as “If you pick up a card, do you answer it?” (no), “who chooses the number of words to say?” (the person who picks up the card), and so forth to confirm understanding and minimise confusion during the activity.

Step 5: Tell students to rotate turns and help each other with vocabulary and accuracy in questions and answers. Also, tell students not to worry about grammar for Type 3; just to talk as much as they can within the minute. Students should try to finish all the cards. Alternatively, set a time limit depending on the number of cards, students, and content of your lesson.

Step 6: Start the activity and monitor around the tables in case your assistance is needed.


The game could be changed to fit a particular English proficiency level. The vocabulary cards could be more academic or technical. The question and answer cards could be made to encourage the production of more challenging grammar. The topic cards could be more challenging topics and the time to talk could be extended. This game could be adapted to work for an online class if a randomizing website such as is used. This way the game could still be played as described.


Tell me, Ask me, Talk about, is an easy-to-prepare and easy-to-run activity in which students can help each other build vocabulary, accurately produce questions and answers, and try to gain confidence by talking about topics for extended periods of time.


The appendices are also available below: