Show and Tell ESL Speaking Activity: Not Just for Kids!


Show and Tell ESL Speaking Activity

Skills: Speaking/listening
Time: 1-2 minutes per student (no questions). 4-6 minutes per student (with questions)
Level: High beginner to Intermediate, all ages
Materials Required: Nothing

Show and Tell is a classic activity from way back in elementary school but it can work well in your ESL classes too. Tell students a few days before the “show and tell ESL speaking style” class that they need to bring an object from home that is meaningful to them. If it’s something really big (a piano) or something that doesn’t transport easily (a cat), then they can email you a picture to put up on the screen instead. Students give a short presentation, talking about the item and why it’s meaningful to them.

The audience can ask a few follow-up questions. In order to make the question time go more smoothly with shy classes, you can put students into teams of 4-6 and each team has to ask one question. You could also award points or a reward to the 3 or 4 students who ask the most thoughtful questions.

Teaching Tips:

This activity is an excellent way to get your students doing presentations in a low pressure way. If they have something familiar to hold on to, they’ll feel less nervous than standing in front of the class with nothing. In addition, everybody likes talking about themselves!

Instead of doing this activity in a single class, you could do it over the course of a semester with one or two students going at the beginning or end of class; you can assign specific days to each student.


  1. Tell students to bring a meaningful object from home, or send a picture if bringing the object isn’t practical.

  2. Students introduce the object in a short presentation of 1-2 minutes, depending on the level.

  3. The other students listen and can ask some follow-up questions.

Love this activity? There are 38 more like it in this book: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. Lesson planning made ridiculously easy!

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