5 Cracking Complaints and Annoyances Language and Speaking Activities

Complaints and annoyances can be taught by using:

  • sentence starters
  • role plays
  • vocabulary and speaking exercises

1 More everyday annoyances

This  speaking activity for English language students aims to encourage them to freely express their feelings and opinions.

Everyday annoyances speaking activity for English language students.

More everyday annoyances (PDF)

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2 Everyday annoyances (with answers)

This is an ESL speaking exercise for discussing everyday complaints and  annoyances . Students match vocabulary to the pictures. Then they can ask each other the the questions at the bottom of the page.

Complaints and annoyances speaking activity for ESL learners.

Everyday annoyances (PDF)

3 Talking about annoyances

This is a second ESL speaking exercise for talking about everyday annoyances. Students match the phrases on the left to the appropriate pictures. Finally they can have a conversation using the questions at the bottom of the page as a guide. 

Annoyances 2 vocabulary and speaking skills worksheet

Talking about annoyances 2 (PDF)

4 Complaints, annoyances and responses (with answers)

Students write the problem and solution/advice for each picture.They may try to use modals and the passive tense.

Complaints and annoyances vocabulary and speaking activity worksheet.

Complaints, annoyances and solutions (PDF)

5  Consumer Complaint Menu Role Play Lesson

As a class elicit a few problems you can have with these companies and any others you can think of:
Home improvement company
Mobile phone service
Mail order company
Travel service
Car dealer
On the board write “MAIL ORDER COMPLAINT MENU” then ask around the class for sample complaints. Write them on the board. The board might look like this:
shipment never came
got the wrong order
goods were broken
expensive delivery charges
bad customer service
not the same as in the ad
no instruction manual etc….etc
Put students in groups of 3 and have ready an A4 sheet of paper for each group. Each sheet of paper has a heading similar to the following:
Each group of students then chooses one of the complaints topics and begins to write complaints as you modeled on the board.
Rotate the complaint menus every 3 or 4 minutes so each group gets to work on each menu. In this way they get a feel for the different kind of complaints.
Once the menus have rotated right round the class or the sheets of paper are full of complaints tell the students to stop writing and model the final part of the activity – the roleplay. Pick up one menu (Travel Service Complaint Menu) and address a pair of students saying………
STUDENT A(CUSTOMER COMPLAINER): Good day, may I see the complaints menu…..
STUDENT B(TRAVEL SERVICE): Certainly here you are……….
STUDENT A (CUSTOMER COMPLAINER): Yes, well first I’d like to complain about your guide…..he was very impolite……
STUDENT B(TRAVEL SERVICE): Well,…..I’m sorry but he is new…..
STUDENT A(CUSTOMER COMPLAINER): Secondly, I’d like to complain about the bus..it was too old………
STUDENT B(TRAVEL SERVICE): Yes..but you chose the cheap tour…etc.
Finally, select one student out of each group to be the complainer. Give this student one of the complaint menus. The students then begin to role play. An excellent way to get students to rotate to other groups is to play the “Scissors, paper, rock” game. The loser moves to another group.

Personal Complaint Menu Lesson

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