Activity 5: Ranking

▶ Duration:  10–15 min
▶ Aim:  Oral fluency practice
▶ Summary:  Groups discuss how to order a list of words.

Go back to Oral English Activites


Group discussion often works best when there is a clear goal. In this case, the goal is for all the members of the group to agree on how to rank a list of concepts. For example, rank these jobs from most stressful to least stressful: factory worker, pilot, policeman, doctor, teacher, housewife, president, taxi driver, manager.

The only preparation is to decide on the list of words and the ranking criterion. There are many possibilities for these. If possible, try to pick something related to the topic of the lesson. I used the above example during a lesson where an earlier activity was also related to the topic of stress.

Six to nine concepts is usually appropriate. Of course, try to choose concepts which are likely to provoke some disagreement (in my class, opinions varied greatly over how stressful a housewife's job was) otherwise there will be little need for discussion!

See the Resources section for more examples.

Write the list of words on the board (in random order), and explain any words which might not be recognised. Then explain the activity (probably with a diagram or example on the board). Check:

As groups begin finishing, invite some to write their results on the board, preferably groups whose lists exhibit differences. Round off the activity with a brief class discussion of these differences, asking each group to explain why it chose such a ranking, taking a vote on the first or last place, etc.

The list can come, at least partly, from the students. For example, you might write "skiing, boxing, horse-riding" on the board, and then ask the students if they think think that these sports are dangerous. Then elicit some other (dangerous?) sports from the class, until you have six or seven in total. The group activity follows: rank these sports from most dangerous to least dangerous.

Job Stress

(This is the example given in the introduction). Rank these jobs from most stressful to least stressful: factory worker, pilot, policeman, doctor, teacher, housewife, president, taxi driver, manager.

Choosing an Apartment

Rank these in order of importance: large, near shops, near school, near bus stop, good security, quiet, nice view.
Rating: 4 stars

Easy to prepare, and usually goes down well. Some groups will finish earlier than others, but since the activity is so short this isn't too much of a concern, and even if you stop some groups early they will usually have at least completed a partial list.

1. credit cards by function:

travel and entertainment,
gasoline company,

2. credit card logos: american express, visa, mastercard

professional sport salaries: tennis, golf, baseball,soccer, tae kwon do, boxing, basketball

3. GDP

Afghanistan,brazil, japan, UK, South Korea, North Korea

4. % of women's employment of all people employed

nurses, financial managers, elementary school teachers, customer service

5. earnings for women

nurses, customer service, waitresses, office managers

6. wasting time at work

Running errands off-premises
Surfing Internet (personal use)
Conducting personal business
Socializing with co-workers
Spacing out

7. list the top 3 ways you waste time

8. list the 3 most expensive "hobby sports" you can think of. then, list the 3 freest sports.


Afghanistan $20 billion $700
Brazil 1.4 trillion 7,600
Japan 3.6 trillion 28,000
UK 1.7 trillion 27,700
Korea, North 22.6 billion 1,000
Korea, South 855.3 billion 17,700

women's employment

(see next to last column)

Preschool and kindergarten teachers 473 484 97.7 515
Secretaries and administrative assistants 2,570 2,657 96.7 550
Elementary and middle-school teachers 1,772 2,206 96.7 550
Receptionists and information clerks 795 847 93.9 463
Registered nurses 1,651 1,800 91.8 895
Maids and housekeeping cleaners 723 818 89.7 324
Cashiers 1,040 1,378 75.5 315
Customer service representatives 1,016 1,355 75.0 313
Retail salespersons 766 1,865 41.1 386
Secondary school teachers 555 1,013 54.8 824
Waiters and waitresses 538 799 67.3 327
Financial managers 535 961 55.7 839
Teacher assistants 500 545 91.7 373

wasting time at work

Top Time-Wasting Activities

1 Surfing Internet (personal use)

2 Socializing with co-workers

3 Conducting personal business

4 Spacing out

5 Running errands off-premises

joesp [] [homepage]
27.07.2005 , 08:02

1. basketball, 2. golfing, 3. skiing, 4. soccer, 5. bowling
joesp [] [homepage]
27.07.2005 , 08:32

Another great activity -- this one has real repeat value especially for smaller-sized classes.

Here are some categories/topics I\'ve come up with / used. Many more can be added to suit the amount of categories you want to use:

1. Annoyances
- stomach ache, littering, rain and snow, very loud music, smoking

2. Best Travel Destination (Chinese cities for Chinese students. To adapt, pick major cities/tourist destinations in your respective region. Metric specifically left unclear)
- Guangzhou, Macau, Shanghai, Lhasa, Hong Kong, Beijing

3. Natural Disasters
- earthquake, volcanoes, drought, avalanche, flood, forest/brush fire, extreme temperatures

NOTE: two possible metrics--for easy/intermediate level, simply ask \"which is worst?\" For an advanced level, ask students to rank in terms of \"which is the most costly (to recover from)?\" Answers for most costly: 1) flood 2) earthquake 3) forest/scrub fire 4) drought 5) extreme temperature 6) avalance 7) volcanoes (source: International Red Cross)

4. Criminals - which is the worst?
- drug user, murderer, car thief, petty thief, bank robber, child abuser
Adam Lopuch []
25.11.2005 , 22:12