Objective - To offer students a meaningful way of practicing modal verbs (should/shouldn't; may/may not; can/cannot; must/mustn't; etc)
Age - Older teens and above
Proficiency level - Intermediate and above
Materials - none

  • Review the use of modal verbs. Leave them written on the board for future reference.
  • Divide your class into groups of four students. 
  • Assign the following occupations to each student in the groups: a scientist; a priest; a famous soccer player; the mother of three young children.
  • Set the scenario: They were given a free trip in an air balloon that would fly over beautiful places. During the trip, a problem occurred and the balloon started losing air, so the only way to prevent it from falling down and killing everybody was to lower the weight it was carrying. Therefore, some passengers would have to be thrown out. Since nobody wanted to die, each passenger will be given one minute to try to convince the others why he/she should stay in the balloon and be saved. 
  • After everybody has had a chance to speak, they quickly analyze the reasons presented and choose the least relevant in terms of social signficance. That person will be the first to be thrown out, the second least relevant being the second one, and so on, until only one person is left in the ballon. 
  • To wrap up, students resume their seats and the remaining person in each balloon makes a three-minute speech to the whole class explaining why he/she was chosen to be kept alive.