Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission - ESL Activities, Worksheets and Games

Can I...?

ESL Asking Permission Game - Reading and Listening Activity - Elementary - 20 minutes

In this fun asking permission game, students ask permission to do different things and race to find the person who has each 'Yes, of course' response. The students are divided into groups of four and each student is given a card (A, B, C or D). On each card are three 'Can I...?' questions that ask permission and nine replies that give or refuse permission. Student A begins by asking the first 'Can I...?' question on their card to one of the other students, e.g. 'Can I try on these jeans?' That student looks for a matching reply on their card. If the chosen student gives permission by saying 'Yes, of course...', Student A crosses off the question. If the chosen student refuses permission by saying 'I'm sorry...', Student A has to wait until their next turn before asking permission from another student. Student B then asks their first 'Can I...?' question to one of the other students and so on. The first student to cross off all their 'Can I...?' questions wins the game. The game continues until all the students have crossed off all their questions.
 

May I...?

ESL Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Activity - Speaking - Elementary - 20 minutes

In this rewarding speaking activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission using cards as prompts. Each student is given a card. On one side is permission prompt and on the other side is a tick or cross. Students hold their card so the permission prompt is facing towards them and the tick or cross is facing away. Students then go around the class asking, giving and refusing permission with as many different partners as possible. If students see a tick, they give permission. If there is a cross, the students refuse permission. When the students have finished, they repeat the activity, but this time they hold their card the other way round so the permission prompt is facing away. The students then go around the class, asking permission to do different things each time they speak to a classmate. The students continue in this way until they have spoken to as many different partners as possible.
 

Perfect Partners

ESL Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission Activity - Listening and Speaking - Elementary - 30 minutes

In this fun class activity, students learn how to ask for, give and refuse permission. The students are divided into two equal groups (A and B) and each student is given a corresponding card. The students are told that they are going to try to find their perfect partner by asking and giving permission for the things on their card. If they find someone who asks or gives permission for all four items on their card, they have found their perfect partner. All the students with card A sit down. Their task is to give and refuse permission. If a student asks permission for an item on their card, they must give it. If a student asks permission for something that is not on their card, they must refuse and give a reason. The students with card B circulate and ask the students sitting down permission for the things shown on their card, e.g. 'Would it be alright if I borrowed a pen?' If a student gets permission for all four things on their card, they have found their perfect partner and must sit down with them. If a student is refused permission for anything on their card, they must move on and speak to another student. When everyone has found their perfect partner, the students swap roles to give them practice at using all the language.
 

Asking, Giving and Refusing Permission

ESL Asking Permission Worksheet - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 20 minutes

Here is a useful worksheet activity to help students practice language for asking, giving and refusing permission. Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. The students begin by using ten polite phrases to ask permission for the items shown on their worksheet. After that, students fill in missing letters in phrases that give and refuse permission. Students then work with a partner and take it in turns to ask, give and refuse permission using the items from Exercise A and phrases from Exercise B.
 

Do you mind if I...?

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate - 30 minutes

In this enjoyable worksheet activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission with 'Do you mind if I...?' Each student is given a copy of the worksheet. The students go around the class asking permission for the things shown on their worksheet using 'Do you mind if I...?' Students only give permission if they genuinely think they don't mind. If students do mind, they refuse permission and explain why. For each item on the worksheet, students must speak to two people. When a classmate responds to a question, the student writes down their answer and name on the worksheet. When everyone has finished, students give feedback to the class on the people who gave and refused permission.
 

How to ask, give and refuse permission

ESL Asking Permission Lesson - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate - 60 minutes

In this productive lesson, students learn how to ask, give and refuse permission using various phrases. Each student is given a copy of the lesson. The students begin by completing two gap-fill dialogues with words from a box on the worksheet. Students then read the two conversations with a partner and compare their answers. Afterwards, the answers are checked with the class. Next, students identify the phrases used to ask permission in the two dialogues and write them in a table. Students then write in the phrases used to give and refuse permission. In the empty squares, the students think of and write other phrases they could use. After that, students use the phrases in the table to write questions asking permission for the things shown on the worksheet. Students then write a response to each question, giving or refusing permission. Following that, students write four questions asking permission and practice asking, giving and refusing permission with a partner. Students then read some short impolite dialogues and rewrite them to be polite using the phrases they have learnt. Finally, students write a conversation in pairs where they ask, give and refuse permission. These conversations are then presented to the class.
 

Picture This

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Drawing and Speaking - Pre-intermediate - 30 minutes

In this engaging asking permission activity, students draw pictures of situations where people ask permission and their partner tries to guess what questions the people in the pictures say. The class is divided into two groups (A and B) and each student is given a corresponding worksheet. The students then draw pictures of situations where people ask permission in the corresponding numbered squares on the worksheet. For example, if the question was 'Can I borrow a pencil?', the student might draw a picture of someone with a piece of paper and nothing in their hand. When everyone has finished drawing their pictures, students cut the worksheet so the drawings and questions are separate. Students then pair up with someone from the other group. The students give their partner the drawings they have made. The students then take it in turns to guess what the person says to ask permission in each of their partner's pictures. Questions 1 to 4 begin with 'Could I...?' and questions 5 to 9 begin with 'Can I...?' Students get three chances to guess the question in each picture. If a student guesses correctly on the first try, they score three points. On the second try, they get two points. On the third try, they score one point. The student with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.
 

12 ways to ask permission

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate - 20 minutes

In this useful asking permission activity, students guess missing words in questions that ask permission to do something. The students are divided into pairs (A and B) and each student is given a corresponding worksheet. Students get three chances to guess the missing words in each question that asks permission. Student A begins by guessing the missing words in the first question. Student B listens and tells their partner if they are right or wrong. If students guess correctly the first time, they score three points. On the second try, they get two points. On the third try, they score one point. After the missing words have been guessed correctly or three chances have passed, Student B guesses the missing words in the second question. When a student successfully guesses the missing words, they write the words in the gaps on the worksheet. The student with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner. When the students have finished, they go through any questions they got wrong and compare worksheets to check their answers.
 
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