Modals of Deduction and Speculation ESL Games, Activities and Worksheets

Could be, Might be, Must be

ESL Modals of Deduction Game - Reading, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 25 minutes

In this fun modals of deduction speaking activity, students play a game where they make deductions with could be, might be, can't be and must be, and guess places from descriptions. In groups of four, Student A begins by reading their first sentence to the group, e.g. 'Some people are walking and some are sitting down'. The other students in the group then make deductions about the place being described, e.g. 'It could be an airport'. Student A then reads out a second sentence and the other students continue to make deductions. This continues until they guess the place. Each clue gets progressively easier, so by clue 4 or 5 the students should know the place being described. Student B then reads their sentences to the group and so on. Afterwards, divide each group into two pairs. Each pair thinks of a place and writes five clues to describe it. Pairs then read out their clues to the other pair. The other pair listens and makes deductions, trying to guess the place.
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Deduction and Speculation

ESL Deduction and Speculation Worksheet - Reading and Writing Exercises - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this modals of speculation and deduction worksheet, students make deductions and speculate on what is happening in mysterious situations. Students begin by matching each modal verb of deduction or speculation with its function. Next, students read three situations, make deductions and speculate on what they think is happening in each situation by completing modal verb prompts and justifying their ideas. Working together as a class, the students then brainstorm and write down the names of two people, a location and six random objects. After that, students complete a gap-fill text with the information. The text is about a missing person's case. Students then take on the role of a detective and write a theory about how all the information could be connected to the missing person's case using modals of deduction and speculation. Finally, have the students read their theories to the class and then discuss which theory the students think is most plausible.
Deduction and Speculation Worksheet Preview

Interactive Version - In this modals of deduction and speculation interactive worksheet, students complete a variety of exercises to practice making deductions and speculating.


The Deductions Game

ESL Past Modals of Deduction Game - Reading, Matching and Speaking Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 25 minutes

In this past modals of deduction game, students speculate on situations using past modals of deduction and try to match sentences and situations together. In groups, students take it in turns to turn over a sentence card, e.g. 'Oh no! Where's my car?' The student reads the sentence aloud and then speculates on the situation using a past modal of deduction (must, could, might, can't + perfect infinitive), e.g. 'It might have been towed away'. The student then turns over a speculation card. If the two cards match (e.g. 'Someone must have stolen it.'), the student keeps the two cards and has another turn. The student with the most pairs of matching cards at the end of the game is the winner. Afterwards, review the correct answers with the class by reading each sentence aloud and seeing if the students can remember the correct response.
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What's the truth?

ESL Modals of Speculation Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Intermediate (B1) - 35 minutes

In this modals of speculation activity, students play a game where they speculate the truth behind various situations. Students take it in turns to pick up a situation card. The other students in the group then take a speculate card each. The student reads the situation on the card to the group, e.g. 'Your friend, Noah is always late to class'. The other students then begin a conversation where they speculate the truth behind the situation. The aim of the game is for the students to try to guess the truth about the person in the situation using the modal verb of speculation on their card. The student with the situation card listens to the conversation. When someone guesses the truth written on the card, the student stops the conversation and gives the person who guessed correctly the card. If no one manages to guess the correct answer, the student who picked up the card keeps it. The student with the most situation cards at the end of the game wins.
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Who is it?

ESL Modals of Deduction Activity - Reading, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (B1) - 40 minutes

This free modals of deductions speaking activity helps students to practice past and present modals of deduction. In groups, students read each question on the worksheet, e.g. 'You see a classmate chatting on their phone. Who is it?' The students then use past and present modal verbs of deduction to discuss and answer the question. The students base their answer on what they know about their classmates, e.g. 'It could be Jin as he is always using his phone'. 'It might have been Ayumi because she loves chatting', etc. Each group then comes to a consensus and writes down the name of one student. When everyone has finished, the groups give their answers. The named people are asked if they agree that it could be or could have been them and if the justifications are valid. If they say yes, the groups that named the person score one point. The group with the most points at the end of the activity is the winner.
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