My World ESL Speaking Activity

earth

This is an excellent activity that you can do on the first day of class to introduce yourself and then have the students get to know one or two of their classmates. You start by drawing a big circle on the whiteboard with the title, “My World.” Inside the circle there are various words, pictures or numbers that have some meaning to you. For example, inside my circle there might be 1979, blue, 37, a picture of 2 cats, and a mountain. The students would then have to make some guesses about why these things are special to me. The…

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ESL Speaking Lesson Plan

lesson plan

Free: 40 of my favorite ESL games and activities, delivered straight to your inbox. Lesson planning made easy. Email Address ESL Speaking Lesson Plan: People Don’t Know! Something that I’m always surprised by when I go to conferences and present on what I think is pretty basic stuff that any ESL teacher should know, or talk to newbie English teachers in a more informal way is the lack of framework for conducting an ESL lesson. By framework, I mean a system that you have either on paper, or in your head for how you go about planning a lesson. I…

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Ice breaker Speaking Activity

icebreaker

Skills: Speaking/ Listening Time: 10-30 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: nothing A way that you can get your students to remember names (and you too!) is to do this simple ice breaker speaking activity. Go around the class, and have students say, “My name is ______and I like _______.” The next student repeats the previous ones, and adds their own. it goes on until it finally gets to you and you can impress the students with your memorization abilities! It works best for smaller classes of less than 10. For more advanced students, you can choose something more difficult than…

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Rocks Scissor Paper ESL Speaking Game

rock scissor paper

Skills: Reading/ Speaking/ Listening Time: 20 minutes Level: Beginner-Intermediate Materials Required: Question/Answer papers (~5/student) Make up strips of paper with questions and answers (on separate papers). Give each student 5 random papers, a mix of both questions and answers. They have to walk around the class finding their “match.” Once they do, they can rock scissor paper and the winner takes both papers. The students with the most points at the end of the allotted time are the winners. This is the perfect game to do for review in basic conversation classes before the midterm or final exam. Free: 40…

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SOS Game: Speaking Review for ESL Students

SOS

I like to play the SOS game as a way to review whatever we studied in the previous class. For example, maybe the grammar point is countable/uncountable nouns and all the technical details surrounding it. It can get quite complicated, so it’s something I’d for sure want to review before moving on with new material. I’m sure you know the game S-O-S from when you were a kid. If you get three “S’s” in a row or three “O’s” in a row you draw a line through it and get a point. I’ve adapted this game to use as an…

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Draw a Picture While Someone Else is Talking

draw a picture

Skills: Speaking/Listening Time: 10 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: Blank Paper Drawing a picture is a fun way to practice body parts or descriptive words (big, small, long, etc). The students sit back to back and one person is the “talker” and the other one is the “drawer.” The person talking describes something that they’re looking at to their partner (a face, body, city, etc) and that person draws what they hear. The results are usually hilarious! It’s perfect for a quick warm-up game, or time-filler.

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ESL Survey Activity

Esl survey

ESL Survey Activity-The perfect way to get your students out of their seats and speaking in English. Skills: Speaking/Listening/Writing/Reading Time Required: 15-30 Minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials: a Survey Handout Give the students a sheet of paper with some questions and they need to find one of their classmates who fits each slot. For example: “Do you travel sometimes?” or, “Are you a university student?” Then, if their partner answers yes, they write down their name and ask them one more question to elicit an extra piece of information. You can review the 5 “W” + “H” questions if necessary before…

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World Link ESL Textbook

World Link ESL textbook

World Link An excellent choice for a general English conversation class for adults I used World Link for about 4 years at my old university and I can say with certainty that it is a really solid book. The units are interesting and engaging and are on the simpler side if you have lower-level, or multi-level classes. There just isn’t that much text on the page, which is something I appreciate in an ESL textbook. The supplementary teacher’s resource book was excellent and I used almost every single activity in it, so make sure you get that as well. While…

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20 Questions ESL Speaking Game

twenty questions

Skills: Speaking/Listening Time: 20 minutes Level: Beginner-advanced Materials Required: Nothing This is a “20 questions” style game, based on whatever you’re studying (Animals/Jobs, etc). In groups, the students ask the teacher a yes/no question. After the teacher gives the answer, the students can have one chance to guess the secret thing. Play a few rounds and the team with the most points is the winner. You can also have students take turns being the one with the “secret.” It’s an excellent way for students to practice asking questions in English. If you have a very large class, divide the students…

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ESL Board Games

ESL board game

Skills: Reading/Speaking Time: 25 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: Board Game Sheet/marker for each student (a coin or an eraser) Board Games often come in the “teacher’s resource book,” but it’s even better if you make your own. Use questions based on the grammar/vocab that you’ve been studying during the previous classes. Have some fun squares, such as “switch positions with the person on your right,” “go back 3,” or “take a vacation!” The style I usually use is a question of some kind where each students has to give one or two sentences in response to it. The other…

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Partner Conversation Starters

conversation

Skills: Writing/Speaking Time Required: 15-30 Minutes Level: Beginner-Intermediate Materials Required: Nothing Give the students a conversation starter to get them going and prevent that awkward time at the beginning of many conversation activities when your students don’t know how to get it going. For example, if you’re talking about feelings in class that day, you can use: A. Hey _____, how are you doing? B. I’m great, how are you? A. I’m _______ (sad, embarrassed, angry, bored, etc). B. Oh? What’s wrong? A._____ B._________ A.__________ , B.___________, ………. Or, if you’re talking about festivals in Korea: A. Hey ________, have…

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4 Corners: An Excellent ESL Speaking Textbook for Adults

My Top Choice for ESL Speaking Textbook If you’re looking for a book that covers all 4 skills, but that is slanted towards speaking activities, 4 Corners by Jack Richards should be your top choice. The communicative activities are excellent at fostering natural communication, unlike many other ESL speaking textbooks where the conversations are quite unnatural and artificial. There are plenty of fluency activities as well, which is an important, but often overlooked area of speaking for English as a Second Language students. In addition, the vocab and grammar sections are thoughtful and easy to understand, and the topics are…

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The Memory Circle Game: ESL Speaking for Kids

memory

This is a game that I often use with smaller (less than 10 students) and younger students (elementary school or kindergarten) but I’ve also used it with university students in South Korea when learning new vocabulary words with good results. To set it up, you need to make a rule about what kind of words or grammar that the students can use. Base it on whatever you are studying that day in class. For example: animals or past tense. You’ll need to adjust the rules and criteria according to the level and age of your students. You want to make…

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Telling a Story, ESL style

what's your story?

In almost all general, 4-skills ESL textbooks such as Smart Choice or World Link , there are usually pages with discussion starters that involve telling a story of some kind, often in the unit related to the past verb tenses. A big problem with telling stories in class is that most students will not do a very good job of it if they are given no time to prepare. And an activity that could be very useful for generating some interesting conversation and discussion can be over in only a couple of minutes. A better way is to give the…

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