Asking Favors

Purpose:  Students practice asking others for help, as well as responding to requests for help, as they fill in appointment calendars.

Prep time:  5-10 minutes

Materials:  copies of the appointment calendar, white board, marker, pens, pencils

Prep:  Before class, make a copy of the appointment calendar for each student. 


  1. Introduce the concept of asking a favor.  The term itself may be unfamiliar.  Find out what language students use when asking a classmate for a pencil or asking a friend for help.  Do they use different language when asking a stranger for help?  Elicit examples of times when they’ve asked for help.
  2. Write formulas for polite requests on the board.  The level of your students will determine how many phrases you introduce.  For beginners, one or two will suffice.

These could include:

“Would you mind…?”

“Could you…?”

“Would you be free to…?”

“Excuse me, can you…?”

“Would you be willing to…?”

  1. With help from students, write a number of examples, completing the requests with actions.  For example, “Would you mind lending me your dictionary?”  “Excuse me, can you tell me where the post office is?”
  2. Elicit responses to above requests from students, including polite and informal responses.


“No problem.”

“I’d be happy to help.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m busy at that time.”

“I’d like to help, but…”

  1. Hand out copies of the appointment calendar.  Ask the students to look at the calendar with you.  Explain that the calendar is for next week and that each day is divided into morning, afternoon, and evening.
  2. Students now fill in five of the squares with activities they plan to do and need help with.  Be sure to do one or two examples together before asking them to do it on their own.  Examples of activities would be:  Wash my car.

Do my math homework.

Pick up my brother after class.

  1. The students have two tasks:
    1. To find classmates who are free to help them with their five planned activities.  When they ask for help, they must use one of the polite expressions on the board.  If the other person agrees, he or she signs the square.  If not, the person needing the favor keeps asking until a helper has been found.  (You can have no more than two signatures from the same person on your calendar).
    2. To fill in the rest of the calendar with activities with which classmates have asked them for help.
  2. For smaller classes, the winner is the student with the most activities on his or her appointment calendar.  For larger classes, the winner is the first student to fill in his or her calendar with activities.
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