Modal Verbs of Deduction and Speculation ESL Games, Activities and Worksheets

Could be, Might be, Must be

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

In this fun deductions activity, students play a guessing game where they make deductions with could be, might be, can't be and must be, and guess places from descriptions. Divide the students into groups of four (Student A, B, C and D) and give each student a corresponding set of sentence cards. 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 Worksheet

ESL Modals of Deduction and Speculation Worksheet - Reading and Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this modal verbs of deduction and speculation worksheet, students make deductions and speculate on what is happening in mysterious situations. Give each student a copy of the two-page worksheet. 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 modal verbs 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.
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Deduction and Speculation Interactive Worksheet

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

This is an interactive PDF version of the above worksheet for people teaching English online. In the interactive worksheet, students complete a variety of online exercises to practice making deductions and speculating.
 

What's the truth?

ESL Modal Verbs of Speculation Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Intermediate (A2-B1) - 35 minutes

In this modal verbs of speculation activity, students play a game where they speculate the truth behind various situations. Give each group of four a set of situation cards and speculate cards. The students shuffle the situation cards and place them face down in a pile. The speculate cards are spread out face down. Students take it in turns to pick up a situation card, without showing it to anyone. 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 students continue speculating until they run out of ideas. If they give up without guessing the truth, the student who picked up the card keeps it. Afterwards, the students put the speculate cards back on the desk face down and mix them up again. The game then continues with the next student picking up a situation card and so on. The student with the most situation cards at the end of the game wins.
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Who is it?

ESL Modal Verbs of Deduction Activity - Reading, Listening and Speaking - Intermediate (A2-B1) - 40 minutes

This free deductions activity helps students to practice past and present modal verbs of deduction. Give each group of three a copy of the worksheet. The groups 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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The Deductions Game

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

In this past modals activity, students play a pelmanism game where they speculate on situations using past modals of deduction and try to match cards together. Give each group of three or four a set of sentence cards and a set of speculation cards. The students shuffle each set of cards and spread them out face down on the table in two sets. The students then 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. If not, the student turns the two cards back over, keeping them in the same place. It's then the next student's turn to play. The students try to remember the position of the cards and continue playing until all the cards have been matched. 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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