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, you may schedule the first 10 minutes of each class to involve students in activities before you proceed with the actual lessons as a kind of warm-up. You can even plan certain activities during particular days of the week, particularly if you teach young children where it can be really useful to establish some kind of routine.
Here are some of my top ESL activities for beginners which are designed to involve students who have just started learning English:
Listening Practice: During the first few classes, the students may not understand any of the explanations, meanings or definitions of words you give. Listening is the best way to start learning any language and it’s how we initially learn to speak our first language as a very young child. This activity can involve students listening to various programs, announcements etc. The information you share could include dates, numbers, time, facts etc. You can play different types of audio tracks and ask the students to identify familiar terms. This will be fun for them while helping them remember and learn at the same time.
Using Multiple Senses: Information enters the mind through the senses. Your ESL activity can involve the use of flashcards with simple and common terms related to everyday life. Let the students identify the words. Make sure you include many things that familiar to them so their confidence grows. You may also include real objects, which they can taste and smell and identify names. This would create a kinaesthetic learning experience. Check out this post on using flashcards to teach children English.
The Picture Game: Create something similar to the Pictionary game, which is perhaps one of the best ways to create a fun learning environment. You would need to divide the students into groups and allot a few words to each group. Each group would draw pictures to guide the other group to help them guess the right word. It’s a very memorable way to review vocabulary words.
Watching Videos: Who doesn’t like to watch videos? Pick some interesting short videos with subtitles and have the students watch them. These could be some comedy scenes, cartoons or historical/global events, depending on what the learners would be interested in. You may also suggest some good movie names with subtitles and assign them to the beginners as part of their homework. This would make the learning process fun and interesting. It’s easier to do this with young children than adults because the themes that adults would be interested in often don’t have videos for absolute beginners to learning English. Remember that the level of the listening or movie clip should be at just a slightly higher level than the student’s actual level in order to be most effective.
Real Life Discussions: To teach sentence building to your students effectively, they should speak. Pick individual students and ask them to tell their names and one or two more facts about themselves. You may assign certain topics based on daily life activities such as what they ate for breakfast, etc. This is one of the most interesting activities, as it also helps the students know about others in the class, apart from learning the language in a fun way.
As compared to rote learning, learning in a creative and fun way is always a better approach. Once you are able to plan, organize, schedule and execute these ESL activities for beginners as a part of your class schedule, students will really enjoy your classes. It really is possible to make learning English fun even for beginner students.
Need even more ideas for teaching ESL speaking? Here are 81 ways to make your ESL speaking class awesome.