Paul Kaye, British Council

This is a speaking exercise for intermediate+ learners which provides them with an opportunity to review and practise the 'should have' structure for expressing regrets. Whilst personalising it, they also have general speaking practise as the exercise inevitably generates discussion.

Before the class, prepare enough photocopies of the worksheet for each learner to have a copy.

Worksheet 46k pdf


  • Think of a mistake you have made, something you shouldn't have done. Tell the learners about it and model the target language, e.g. 'I shouldn't have left my last job because…' . Write this example on the board.
  • Ask the learners for more examples using the same model.
  • Now write up an example of something you should have done, but this time only the thing itself, e.g. 'My wife's birthday'.
  • Elicit the 'should have' structure for this. i.e. 'I should have remembered my wife's birthday'
  • Ask learners to complete the worksheet in the same way as your second example, working individually. Emphasise that they should write their answers in the circle in a random way, not in order. Demonstrate this if necessary.
  • When learners have finished, ask them to pair up. They need to show their circles filled with answers to their partners, who need to guess which of the instructions each answer refers to.
  • Demonstrate this with another example from you if necessary.
  • Monitor as learners work and ensure that the target form is being used correctly, although they should be fine as they are reading from the worksheet. Also encourage the correct pronunciation of 'should have' and 'shouldn't have':
  • Elicit any interesting answers open-class to finish the exercise.