Asking Permission ESL Activities, Games and Worksheets

Can I...?

ESL Asking Permission Game - Reading, Listening and Matching Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this fun can for permission game, students ask permission to do different things and race to find the person who has each 'Yes, of course' response. Each card contains 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 in the group, 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.
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Can I... yes or no?

ESL Asking Permission Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this modals of permission game, students ask permission to do different things and guess whether their partner is going to grant or refuse permission. This game helps students practice the modals of permission 'can', 'may' and 'could' as well as various phrases for granting and refusing permission. In pairs, students take it in turns to pick up a permission card and use the modal verb of permission (can, may or could) and prompt shown on the card to ask permission to do something, e.g. 'May I use your computer?' The student then guesses whether their partner will grant or refuse permission. Their partner then picks up a response card and grants or refuses permission using the expression on the card, e.g. 'Yes, of course.' If the student guessed correctly, they score a point. If not, their partner scores a point. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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May I...?

ESL May I Activity - Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this free asking permission speaking activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission using cards as prompts. Give each student a card. On one side of the card is a permission prompt and on the other 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.
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Can I ask Permission?

ESL Asking Permission Worksheet - Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 60 minutes

In this asking permission worksheet, students learn how to ask, give and refuse permission using various phrases. Students start 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. 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 that ask 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 that ask 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.
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Interactive Version - In this interactive asking and giving permission exercises PDF, students learn how to ask, give and refuse permission using different expressions.

 

Do you mind if I...?

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this free asking for permission activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission with 'Do you mind if I...?' 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.
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Perfect Partners

ESL Asking For Permission Activity - Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this fun asking permission speaking activity, students practice asking, giving and refusing permission. Tell the students 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 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.
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Permission Granted!

ESL Asking For Permission Worksheet - Reading, Writing and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 20 minutes

Here is an asking permission worksheet to help students practice language for asking, giving and refusing permission. First, students use 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.
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Interactive Version - In this asking for permission interactive worksheet, students work through various exercises to learn phrases for asking, giving and refusing permission.

 

Picture This

ESL Asking Permission Activity - Drawing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this engaging modals of 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. In two groups, students 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.
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Asking Permission Board Game

ESL Asking Permission Board Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 30 minutes

This free asking for permission board game can be used to help students practice or review asking permission using a variety of phrases and verbs. Players take it in turns to roll the dice and move their counter along the board. When a player lands on a square, they pick up a card and ask permission using the verb on the card and the phrase on the square. For example, if the player landed on the 'Do you think I could...?' square and picked up the 'have' verb card, the student might say 'Do you think I could have another cup of coffee?' The other students in the group judge whether the question has been phrased correctly and is appropriate. If it is, the other students grant permission, e.g. 'Go right ahead'. If not, the other students refuse permission (e.g. I'm afraid that's not possible.) and the player goes back to their previous square. It's then the next student's turn to play. The first player to reach the finish wins the game.
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12 Ways to Ask Permission

ESL Modals of Permission Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (B1) - 20 minutes

In this asking permission activity, students guess missing words in questions that ask permission to do something. In pairs, students get three chances to guess the missing words in each question that asks permission on their worksheet. 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.
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Interactive Version - In this asking permission breakout room activity, pairs of students play a game where they guess missing words in questions that ask permission.

 
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