39 ESL Icebreakers: For Teenagers and Adults

ESL Icebreakers: For Teenagers and Adults

All English teachers who work with teenagers or adults need some ESL icebreakers to get their classes started off on the right foot when students don’t know each other, or you. Icebreaker activities are the perfect tool for the job, but it’s not easy to find the best ones. If you’re tired of wading through the junk on the Internet to find the one activity that you can actually use in your class, then help is here. During her decade of experience as a CELTA/DELTA certified teacher, Jackie Bolen has developed countless games and activities for her students. Jennifer Booker Smith taught…

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Puzzle Finder ESL Ice Breaker Activity

Puzzle Pieces ESL Ice Breaker

Puzzle Finder Skills: Speaking/listening Materials Required: puzzle pieces (from an actual puzzle or a cut and laminated image) The objects of this ESL ice breaker activity are both teamwork (to create the puzzle) and a review of common vocabulary, such as colours, shapes, and common objects. Before class, you should either prepare a puzzle with enough pieces for each student to have one or two, or print an image which you cut into the correct number of pieces and laminate. The former is easier, but the latter gives you much more flexibility and you can cut the pieces as large…

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Cosmo Quiz ESL Icebreaker Activity

ESL Icebreaker Activity

Cosmo Quiz Skills: Speaking/listening/reading Materials Required: a Cosmo quiz or Cosmo-type quiz If you are a guy, you may not be familiar with the quiz in each month’s edition of Cosmopolitan magazine. These generally predict something about your relationship style, finances, etc. In other words, they are quiz-style horoscopes. They are pretty fun to do as a group, because they are not meant to be taken seriously, but can tell you a little something about the quiz-taker. Prep could not be easier. Simply find a few old issues of Cosmo and copy the quizzes. Some of them are a bit…

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Vocabulary Games for ESL Students

Vocabulary games for ESL students

  Teaching English vocabulary is traditionally quite boring for the students as well as the teacher. However, it doesn’t have to be tedious if you play a few vocabulary games for ESL students. They’re guaranteed to get your students talking, thinking and most important of all: remembering and knowing how to use those words they’ve been studying. Error Correction Relay Race: Correcting errors is a very important skill for language learners but it’s often quite boring and students usually don’t like to do it. However, you can make the old new again with this exciting relay race that the students will…

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Disappearing Text ESL Vocabulary Game

ESL Vocabulary Game

Disappearing Text ESL Vocabulary Game Skills: Reading/Speaking Time: 5-10 minutes Materials: Whiteboard, marker and eraser Disappearing text is a fun ESL vocabulary game that also works on English grammar. Write one (or more) sentences on the board reviewing new material from that class, or from the previous class if you’re using this as a warm-up activity. This can be done as last man standing or last group/table standing. Begin with all students standing. Have them read aloud what is written on the board. Remove one word (or phrase) at a time, and have them repeat the entire passage as it…

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Dialogue Substitution

ESL vocabulary activity

Dialogue Substitution Skills: Reading/Listening/Speaking Time: 10-15 minutes Materials: PowerPoint or handouts of photocopied textbook dialogue with parts removed. Lower-level text books contain many dialogues but their effectiveness is reduced when students don’t have to listen to their partner in order to successfully complete their role. An easy solution to this is to use dialogue substitution which provide the dialogues with key elements missing. Students then have to listen in order to respond appropriately. Dialogues are an excellent way for students to see how new vocabulary is used in real-life situations. You may want or need to scaffold this activity by…

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Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game

Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game

Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game Skills: Listening/speaking Time: 30+ minutes, including deck-building Level: Intermediate to Advanced, age 9+ Materials Required: Paper, pen/pencils, textbooks, and scissors Apples to Apples is a vocabulary game in which players defend their choice of card played. This version is somewhat different than the actual Apples to Apples game, in order to increase speaking time. Before playing, students need to make two decks of cards using vocabulary words. This is best done at the end of a semester or book, so that there are more words to play with. You may also want to encourage them…

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Free Talking for ESL Students: Why I Hate It

Free-Talking for ESL Students

I recently attended the Kotesol International conference 2015 in Seoul and want to talk about a presentation that I attended by Tina Zaman called, “English Conversation Workshops for Fluency.” The gist of it is that she begins her classes by having students talk with their partner about a single open-ended question for 15 minutes. She made no mention of whether or not this question is related to anything else that her class is studying, or whether it’s stand-alone. I tried asking her, but she wasn’t open to answering questions it seemed. A few people questioned how it was possible that…

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Top 10 ESL Games

Top 10 ESL Games

You need some ESL teaching awesome in your life, right? Fun, engaging classes filled with happy students? Painless lesson planning that gets done in no time? Of course you do! Jackie is here to help you with these top 10 ESL games to try out in your own classes. Password: This is a fun ESL activity that gets your students practicing an important skill-using alternatives to describe a vocabulary word if it’s not available to them because they forgot it. It’s an often overlooked skill that is important for our students to use if they want to speak English fluently.…

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Fortunately/Unfortunately Speaking and Listening Activity

Speaking and listening activity

Skills: Speaking/listening Age: 9+ Materials Required: None You may have done this speaking and listening activity at school yourself. Start of by telling students some good news (something that “happened to you”) followed by some bad news. For example, “Unfortunately, my car wouldn’t start this morning. Fortunately, my neighbor gave me a ride to school. Unfortunately, she drove through a red light. Fortunately. . .” Students will then generate similar language using fortunately/unfortunately or luckily/unluckily. Procedure: 1. Divide students into small groups of 3-5. 2. Give them a scenario (something that “happened to you”), alternating between good and bad news.…

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Top 5 ESL Conversation Activities for Adults

ESL conversation activities

If you want to make your English conversation class as interesting, engaging and fun as possible for the students, you’ll need these top 5 ESL conversation activities for adults. They’re guaranteed to get your students speaking English in the most painless way possible! The Small Talk Game–Small talk in an important, but often overlooked skill. Get students practicing it while having fun with this game. The Cocktail Party-This is another small talk conversation activity for adults that gets student mingling and mixing, just like you would at a cocktail party. Give them confidence that they can venture out into the…

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Level Up your Teaching Game: A Resource for Busy Teachers

resources for busy English Teachers

Usually Not My Style… I’m really, really not one to use a lot of other people’s stuff in my classes. I usually just combine the best from the textbook that I’m given and then make the rest of my own materials-surveys, board games, presentation projects, or lesson plans. I usually think that making my own activity or game is way better than searching around for hours on the Internet trying to find something that I can actually use. But, the one thing that I do use in each and every single one of my university classes here in South Korea is The…

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Top 5 ESL Activities for Beginners

English speaking activities for beginners

Fun activities and games should be an essential part of teaching ESL for beginners. It creates an interest in learning English which in turn would motivate an individual to learn with interest – irrespective of whether it is a young adult or a child. Games can make your classes even more awesome and keep your students hooked and interested in learning more. Of course, it’s not easy to teach total beginners especially if you don’t share a common language. But, it really is possible and there are a few activities you can use that will work well. As an ESL teacher,…

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Dictogloss: An ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

Dictogloss ESL Listening and Speaking Activity

Skills: Speaking/listening Age: 8+ Materials Required: A short story Dictogloss is a simple activity for more advanced level students that helps them practice their listening and memory skills, as well as substituting vocabulary words if the original word is no longer accessible to them. Find a short, interesting story or make up one yourself. I’ve used various things from children’s stories to a story about something I did on the weekend. Nearly anything can work. Tell the story 1-3 times, depending on the student level and of course you can also vary your speaking speed to make this activity easier…

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