The body language challenge

If I had to pick one of my favourite tools for the EFL class I would definitely choose the interactive whiteboard, and not only because I am feeling much better since there is no chalk around. No more sneezing my way to the end the class!

I confess I don’t always use it to its full potential, and most times I just end up using the software we have available, which is really practical as it is. It is of great help to focus on specific content and incredibly eye-catching for students. But whenever I have some time I really enjoy exploring the additional resources it has to create activities to get the students stand, play and use their senses to explore the language we don’t always have the chance to.

The Body Language Challenge was thought for the whole class to do together as a group, but there may be other ways of managing the students to do the same.

How it works

One or two students stand in front of the class with their backs to the IWB, which shows pictures of  people with a specific body posture or gesture. The students who can see the image have to interpret their body language and use English to express any of the following:

  • what the person might be thinking (a great excuse to practise modals of deduction and speculation).
  • describing how the person might be feeling.
  • report what the person is saying.

While the class are describing,  the “actors” represent with their own body language what their partners are trying to express. Not without an extra challenge. The actors can’t use any kind verbal communication, so the rest have to try hard to get their message through by decribing body parts, correcting, requesting or giving examples. Amazingly, it doesn’t take too long for them to come up with the exact body posture or gesture.

Although the most passive and shy students might be unwilling to stand in front of the class and start posing, they eventually may want to give it a try after seeing how it works.

This body language challenge has usually turned out to be fun and a great activity for practising oral skills and learning or consolidating functional language or certin grammar structures.


Interactive drag and drop or matching activities on the board could follow or precede the activity to consolidate the lexis or grammar.

Comparing body language in different cultures.


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