Five commands and so much impact in a beginners target language lesson

Five little words....

Five commands , but you can have so much impact with beginners listening,speaking,reading and writing!

We can encourage young target language learners to be involved in dynamic and engaging activities right from the word go!

Today at a start up staff meeting we focused on 5 very physical imperatives:






The aims were to try out beginners listening, speaking , reading and writing activities using these 5 little words. We wanted to  see how much impact you can have over all four skills and language learning strategies and skill with just five words in a target language.We found that we had a full lesson of activities , practising and reinforcing skills of learning a language that a non- specialist could deliver and develop creatively.You then have 5 commands ready for links with primary PE and dance using the target language commands.

Maybe once you have tried the activities below you could move on to "

Powerhouse machine imperatives

  drama and grammar activity described in this blog post!

Listen and respond

  • Introduce each of the commands as a physical activity - jumping on the spot, running the spot, marching , disco dancing, wiggling slowly up and down on the spot
  • Ask the children to do each of these actions for a specific amount of time and before you start the activity to check their pulse , after three actions done for a specific time, 30 seconds each, to check their pulse and at the end of the activity to check their pulse. What's  the difference and why?
  • Play a game of Simon says as a whole class game with the movements.
  • Play a game of class puppets . Call an action and the children must do that action and change actions as quickly as they can ,when they hear you say another action.

Saying simple words and phrases

  • Ask the children to say and perform the movements, making the commands sound just like their actions.
  • Split the class in to groups of four and play team simon says - each child taking responsibility for a 60 second game.
  • Allow each child in the group to be a group puppeteer.The other three children must listen to the their commands and do what they say , changing from one action to another action as quickly as they can and as soon as they hear the new command.

Reading familiar command words


  • Lay large command word cards out on the floor as if they are stepping stones across the floor.You will need 5 of each word card ,laid out in a random order. 
  • Invite a group of five children at a time to stand at one end of the stepping stones. Invite the line of children to step across the cards from one side of the hall or room to the other.
  • As they step on a particular card they must read the action command and perform the action command.They move from one card to the next when you tell them to do so.
  • Repeat the activity with a second group
  • Play the game as a small group game 

Writing our favourite familiar command words.

  • With beginner learners we need now to practise writing. The teachers loved this activity today and I am certain that children will do too.Display the command cards at the front of the room . 
  • Ask the children to select their favourite command and action. 
  • Can they write the letters of the word in the style of the action they performed e.g jumpy letters, wiggly letters in a vertical top to bottom line, dancing letters etc.
  • Can they share their large in the air command writing with the class? 

Add three simple adverbs and try the activities all over again!

Add challenge and also revisit with a twist by adding adverbs that slow down or speed up the actions e.g. 

move slowly 

dance quickly 

jump fast

run slowly 

walk quickly