Number one for English language teachers

Gaps and guessing: Thoughts that help us to live

Level: Intermediate, Upper intermediate, Advanced Type: Extra

The students really enjoy this activity when I introduce a topic for discussion e.g. biography, character, famous personalities and some others.




Intermediate and above


5 minutes


Stage 1. The teacher writes on the blackboard a quotation with some words missing, e.g.  "A room without ____________ is like a body without soul."(Cicero).

Stage 2. The teacher suggests that the students should guess the missing words. Their attention can be drawn to the name of the author. The teacher stresses that if the author is Franklin, Twain, Show or Billings the thoughts can be witty or humorous.

Stage 3. When the missing words have been guessed (e. g. "A room without books is like a body without soul." (Cicero).) the teacher starts a discussion on the topic to which the quotation refers:


  1. Do you agree with the statement?
  2. How do you understand it?
  3. Is it really so in your life?

Such discussions give an opportunity to introduce the topic of the lesson in an unconstrained manner.

Other quotations which I have used teaching intermediate and upper-intermediate levels  (age 13-17):

Daily routine, nutrition"One should eat to live, not live to eat." Benjamin Franklin
Family life"If parents could only realize how they bore their children." Show
Character"Every man has three characters - that which he exhibits, that which he has, and - that which he thinks he has." Karr
Friends and friendship

"Better make a weak man your enemy than your friend." Billing

"People generally quarrel because they cannot argue." Chesterton

"The only way to have a friend is to be one." Emerson.

Hobbies"Work is the meat of life. Pleasure is its dessert." Forbes
Music"Music is the universal language of the world." Longfellow
Reading and books."A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read." Twain
Health"The first wealth is health." Emerson

The missing words are in bold type.

Extra resources

Find a quote:


Rate this resource (5 average user rating)

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

You must be signed in to rate.

  • Share

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Powered by Webstructure.NET

Access denied popup