Challenge your students to think outside of the box with this ESL speaking activity: Odd One Out. This activity is inspired by a lesson from

This activity works best with intermediate to advanced level English language learners. It can be played both in the classroom and remotely.

How to play Odd One Out

To start, write the following four words on the board:

Car Bicycle Train Taxi

Ask students which thing they think is the “odd one out” (doesn’t belong) and WHY.

Example answers:

  • I think the bicycle is the odd one out because it only has 2 wheels and everything else has more than 2 wheels.
  • In my opinion, the train is the odd one out because it’s the only type of transportation that is public.
  • I believe that the odd one out is the bicycle because it doesn’t use any gas.
  • As I see it, the bicycle is the odd one out because there aren’t any passengers.

The main idea is for students to think of as many examples as possible for each set of four words.

Next, split students into small groups or breakout rooms to complete the activity. Print off one activity sheet per group (or send it in the chat for online classes.)

You can get a copy of the activity sheet for the Odd One Out ESL Speaking activity here. Otherwise, keep scrolling to see the list of word sets.

Additionally, you might want to pre-teach expressions for expressing opinions. Students can use these expressions when giving their answers.

Monitor students and provide support as needed. If your class requires more support, you might want to come together after every 5 sets of words to discuss answers. Make sure each group has a “secretary” to record answers.

Why you should try the Odd One Out speaking activity

Unlike other speaking activities where there is only one set answer, this activity challenges students to think and stretch their vocabulary

Additionally, this activity can be used as a warmer. Try just one or two sets of words at the start of a lesson or after a break to get students speaking and communicating in English.

Students doing the speaking activity

Odd One Out speaking activity word sets

  1. Cup, glass, jar, pitcher

  1. Book, notebook, laptop, tablet

  1. Wallet, bag, purse, backpack

  1. Garden, forest, palm tree, flower

  1. Rocket, moon, spaceship, alien

  1. Water, boat, fish, swimsuit

  1. Theater, television, actor, model

  1. Tiger, zebra, lion, giraffe

  1. Breakfast, snack, lunch, tea

  1. Hammer, shovel, knife, saw

  1. Biking, swimming, rollerblading, basketball

  1. Teacher, college, university, student

  1. Pillow, sofa, chair, blanket

  1. Bell, whistle, tweet, whisper

  1. Flip flops, sandals, heels, boots

  1. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

  1. Orange, apple, strawberries, grapes

  1. Airplane, luggage, flight attendant, pilot

  1. Video, photo, movie, text

20. Song, music, lyrics, singer

Final Thoughts

If you try the Odd One Out speaking activity in your class, leave a comment below and let me know how it went. 

Happy teaching!

More free lesson plans from ESL Teacher 365

Business Discussions Lesson: Teach Business English

Prepositions of Place Zoom Lesson for Beginners

-ED Pronunciation Lesson for Beginners

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