A Relative Clause Speaking Activity which is Fabulously Fun

barrack obama

If you’re studying about relative clauses (who, which, that), and want to lighten up the mood a bit you can use this “Who or What is it?” relative clause speaking activity. My students always love it. Here’s how to do it: Make a list of things or people and cut them up into little pieces and put them in an envelope (here’s my very Korea-centric who/what list). Put the students in groups of 4 and the first person has to choose a paper at random and keep it secret. Then, they give hints about it, preferably using relative clauses or…

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Can/Can’t ESL Game

can can't

A fun ESL speaking, listening and writing game for children or adults that you can play to help your students learn can/can’t is the following: Put the students in teams of 2, 3, or 4 depending on how big your classes are. They have to pick 1 animal, and 1 thing, but must keep it a secret from the other teams My 2 examples often are: Animal: Giraffe It can eat leaves It can’t live in Korea outside of a zoo It can see easily over tall things Thing: Air Conditioner I can see it now It can be bad…

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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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Toilet Paper Icebreaker Speaking Activity

TP

Skills: Speaking/Listening Time: 5-60 minutes Level: Beginner-Advanced Materials Required: Toilet Paper This toilet paper ice breaker speaking activity is the perfect way to start your first class off with a bit of fun, but also help your students get to know each other. Bring in a roll of toilet paper, and depending on the size of your class, tell the students they can take a certain number of pieces (big classes 1-4, small classes 4-8). Don’t give them any other information except for that. Once everyone has their paper, tell them that they have to tell the class one thing…

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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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ESL Speaking Tests: 3 Options

speaking test ESL students

There are various ways for language teachers to do ESL speaking tests, all of which have their positives and negatives. I will give only the most basic of overviews of three different speaking test methods for English as a Second Language students, but if you want to dive deeper into the topic, I recommend this book: Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices (2nd Edition). 1-1 interviews with the teacher This method is generally thought to have the highest validity, since weaker students cannot affect the stronger students in any way. However, I think there are more negatives than positives: The…

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