Daily routine dictation

Most EFL textbooks have some kind of unit about daily routines and everyday activities. A good way I’ve found to liven them up is to use it as a springboard for adding an extra challenge to students’ learning.

This is an activity I used to help practice modal verbs in the context of daily exercise, but could conceivably be used for other target language.


As a warmer brainstorm typical daily routine vocabulary. This will serve as pre-teaching vocabulary for the dictation. You could do this as a simple mind-map on the board, or by matching pictures to words. For younger learners and lower levels you could put pictures of activities around the classroom and get students to go around discussing/discovering the names for the activties.


Dictate your daily routine. This can be as simple or as complex as you like. For example, you could include some common phrasal verbs (wake up, get up, get on/get off the bus), more difficult expressions/idioms like veg out or forty winks, or even participle clauses (Walking out of the station, I buy a coffee and a newspaper).

Next, present students with pictures of the activities you mentioned, but in a random order. Students check their comprehension of the dictation by working together to put the pictures into the correct order.


Tell students that you feel that you don’t get enough exercise. Ask students to work in pairs to find some “gaps” in your diary where you might get some exercise. (Note: this can be a sensitive subject for some, so in place of exercise you could talk about being too stressed or wanting to have more time for hobbies)

e.g. “You could go for a run before you get ready for work… You should go to the gym in your lunch hour… etc”

Of course, to make an extra challenge, you could shift everything into the past tense, and practice past modals: “you could have… you should have… etc”

Take feedback as a class.


Students can now do the activity for themselves. Students write out their daily routines in a similar style to yours, before giving their papers to other pairs. The students can then comment on each others’ routines, giving advice or recommendations with modal verbs. You can extend this activity by passing the papers around several groups and repeating this step.

Exam link

Deliberately leave an hour or so gap in your daily schedule. Then set up a PET/FCE-style task to decide which activity you should take up from 6 options.

Thanks for reading!




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