Giving instructions

Topic Focus

In this topic we look at giving clear and concise instructions to ensure that our students understand what we want them to do.

45 minutes

Clear, grammatically correct instructions are important so our learners know what we want them to do!

Nick Northall

Course Tutor

Look at the following phrases for giving instructions to your learners. Do you think they make sense?

  1. please have may I attention your
  2. everyone I want to look the board at
  3. what is you I do want to this
  4. me you do follow
  5. minutes in section please this 10 complete
  6. work your with sitting exchange the to person you next

All the instructions are jumbled up. Can you move the words around to make grammatically correct instructions? 

Listen to each instruction and then repeat. Try to say each instruction exactly as you hear it.

Learning tip

Record yourself and then listen to how you say each instruction. Do you pronounce the instructions correctly?

Can I help you?
Can you repeat what I said?
Can you speak louder?
Is everything clear?
Any questions?
You got it…
That is quite right….
Read quietly.
Grade your classmate’s work.
Mark the work of the person sitting next to you.


How do we form questions (such as instructions) in the present simple? Look at these examples from the previous tasks and sort them into the correct categories. 


Forming questions

The tables below show different ways of making questions. Copy the tables into your own notebook, completing the missing information with the phrases in the blue box. 

verb ‘to be’ x2     –     modal / auxiliary verb     –     verb

Check answer

question word


extra information

Whose turn






extra information




what I said?


extra information


everything clear?

question wordverb ‘to be’extra information
Whose turnisit?

 modal /

auxiliary verb         

subject    verbextra information
Can you repeatwhat I said?
verb ‘to be’extra information
Iseverything clear?

Auxiliary verb ‘to do’, ‘subject’, and verb: e.g. ‘Do you have any questions?’

Again listen to the pronunciation of the questions and repeat.

Does the intonation in the questions rise or fall? Why?

The intonation rises. 

These questions are all yes/no questions. That is, they can be answered with a simple yes or no. Yes/no questions are formed using auxiliary verbs or (if the main verb is the verb to be) just the verb ‘to be’.

Your classroom instructions

Can you think of any other instructions you might use in your classroom with your learners? Write them in your notebook.

Here are some examples of functional language for the classroom. 

a) Getting students’ attention: Attention please – Look at me – Listen carefully!

b) Asking students if they understand: Do you understand? – Are you with me? – Do you have any questions before we move forward?

c) Clarifying your instructions: That is what I meant. Let me say it again, I mean… 

d) General instructions: Say it one more time! – Repeat each word after me – Say it together, Exchange your work with your partner – Can you check your work again? – Ready? Are you ready? 

e) Giving feedback & praising learners: That is right – That’s correct – That is good but can you repeat it in complete sentences? 

f) Getting started or moving on: Ready? Are you ready? – Let’s start – Should I move on? 


Make a note of 5 instructions that you will try to use in your next lessons. Write these in your personal notebook.