Author: British Council | Published on 1 February 2023


Stage 1: Present examples 

Say: “I’ve got a problem. I want to meet my friends later but I have a lot of work to do.” (Or choose a real problem you have).

Ask: “What should I do?” Give learners 2 minutes to discuss in pairs.

Take feedback. Recast learners’ advice using ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’, e.g. so you think I should … and I shouldn’t … Thank learners for their advice. 

Show or draw a picture of a lazy man on the board and elicit his name (Mr Lazy).  

[insert b/w easy to draw cartoon of Mr Lazy]

Ask learners to imagine Mr Lazy’s life. Ask questions, e.g. Does he have a job? Is he healthy? What does he do all day? What should he do? 

Say: “We’re going to learn a rhyme about Mr Lazy.” Write the rhyme on the board. (To save time, you could do this before the lesson and cover it with paper.)

Say the rhyme. Pay attention to the stress. 

Mr Lazy

He should clean his house

He should feed his mouse

But he can’t cos he’s Mr Lazy.

He should read a book

He should learn to cook

But he can’t cos he’s Mr Lazy.

He shouldn’t sit

He should keep fit

But he can’t cos he’s Mr Lazy.  

Note: ‘cos’ is a short form of ‘because’.

Encourage learners to say the rhyme with you. Repeat 2 or 3 times. 

Write on the board: What should Mr Lazy do? What shouldn’t Mr Lazy do?

Elicit answers.

To help learners you could:

  • Create flashcards to use with the rhyme.
  • Underline should/shouldn’t on the board. 
  • Drill some of the sentences.

 Stage 2: Take feedback 

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Some key points which you might want to share with them/write on the board include: 

The use: We commonly use should/shouldn’t to make suggestions or give advice. Examples: He shouldn’t sit. He should keep fit. 

Could: We also commonly use could to make suggestions or give advice, e.g. You could read a book. You could meet your friends tomorrow. 

Another use of should: We use should when we think something is probably true. Examples: They should know the simple past because we learnt it last month. It’s 4 o’clock so they should arrive home soon. 

Pronunciation: Should is not commonly stressed in a sentence; the stress falls on the main verb. E.g. He should clean his house. However, shouldn’t is commonly stressed, e.g. He shouldn’t sit.  

Stage 3: Use the grammar

a) Problems, problems: Create problem cards or ask learners to write some. They could be real e.g. ‘My friends laugh at me when I make mistakes’ or imaginary, e.g. 

‘Sometimes I think I’m an alien’. Learners work in groups of 3. Learner 1 reads the problem; the other 2 give advice. They should focus on using the target language. Learner 1 decides which is the best advice and that learner wins a point.  

b) What should I do? The teacher writes a problem on the board, e.g. I’ve lost my book. Learners work in teams. They have 2 minutes to write as many pieces of advice as they can. The teacher listens and decides which is good advice. 

c) What’s the problem? Learners work in groups of 4 or 5 and think of a problem. They write 3 or 4 sentences giving advice. Groups swap advice (not problems) and guess what the problem is.  

d) Problem page: Learners work in groups to write a letter to a magazine problem page. The teacher delivers the letters to different groups. The groups reply to the letter with advice. The teacher delivers the replies. Groups read and decide if the advice is good. The problems and advice could be displayed for other classes to read.   


Recast: remodel

Elicit: How a teacher gets information from learners, e.g. asking questions, prompting.