Small Talk for ESL Students: 4 Activities to Try Out

small-talk-for-ESL-students

Small Talk for ESL Students I taught in Korean universities for 10 years. Something that I’ve noticed during that time is that my students are often really, really bad at engaging in small talk, even the more advanced level students. They usually know how to put together complex sentences and the intricacies of vocabulary usage but when it comes to having a basic conversation with something they don’t know, they’re often at a bit of a loss. This makes my students sometimes very awkward, shy and uncomfortable. This results in that my students seem like they don’t know English! However,…

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Role Plays for ESL Students

role-plays-for-ESL-students

Role Plays for ESL Students Skills: Writing/speaking Time Required: 15-40 minutes Level: Beginner to Advanced Materials Required: Nothing Role Plays are one of my favourite ESL activities for lower-level students. They allow beginners to feel like they’re “having a conversation,” but there’s some structure so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Here’s how it works-give the students a conversation starter to get them 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.). ***Anything besides, “I’m…

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Top 5 ESL Conversation Activities for Adults

ESL conversation activities

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! They range from warm-ups, to fun games to complete ESL lesson plans. Check out these conversation activities below. Clicking on the title will take you to the article with all the information. How to set it up, resources needed, etc. The Small Talk Game Small talk is an important, but often overlooked skill. Get…

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Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game

Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game

Apples to Apples ESL 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…

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

show-tell

Show and Tell ESL 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…

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Conversation Starters for Adults

conversation starter

Top 10 Conversation Starters for Adults If you’re looking for a quick warm-up or perhaps a more in-depth discussion, check out these 10 conversation starters for adults–perfect for your ESL speaking classes. They are appropriate for students in almost any country. If you want to start your ESL class off in style, with the students talking, sharing ideas and having fun, then you’ll need to consider using these Top 10 Conversation Starters for Adults. Have fun! If I won the lottery Have students describe what they would do or what they would buy if they won the lotto. I usually…

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Never Have I Ever ESL Game: An Excellent Icebreaker

Never Have I Ever ESL Game

Never Have I Ever for ESL/EFL Students Skills: Speaking/listening Time: 10-20 minutes Level: Intermediate to Advanced Materials Required: Nothing Never have I ever ESL Game is taken from the classic party game that you can play in your ESL speaking classes as well. The way it works is that students think of a few things that they haven’t done but that they think others in the class have. For example, maybe someone hasn’t been to Japan or China but most of the people in the class probably have. Or, perhaps someone has never tried Indian or Vietnamese food. If you…

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A Relative Clause Speaking Activity which is Fabulously Fun

barrack obama

Relative Clause Speaking Activity 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. Relative clauses are a bit grammar heavy to teach and lessons about them are usually focused on pen and paper exercises. But, it is possible to practice relative clauses in a fun speaking activity too. Here’s How to Set Up this Relative Clause Speaking Activity Make a list of things or people and cut them up into little pieces and…

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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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ESL Speaking Bingo

ESL Speaking Bingo

Skills: Speaking/listening/writing Time: 20-30 minutes Level: High-Beginner to Advanced Materials Required: Blank “Bingo” grids, or blank paper   ESL Speaking Bingo is a very fun activity that kids, teenagers as well as university students seem to love. Have a list of about 35-40 vocabulary words that you’ve been studying (on the PPT works well). If you use less, the game will be over very quickly. Give the students a pre-made Bingo Grid, or have them draw a 5×5 grid. Then the students fill in the grid randomly from the list of words on the board or PowerPoint. Then, choose someone to…

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Retell the Story 1-2-3: A Fluency Activity for ESL Students

Retell the Story 1-2-3

Skills: Speaking Time: 15-20 minutes Level: Beginner to Advanced, 8+ Materials Required: Timer   This is a fluency activity which can be done with beginners by having them introduce themselves. Higher level students can tell a story they know or recap a story that was covered in class. Give the students a bit of time to think about what they’re going to say; the lower the level of students, the more time they will need. Working in pairs, each student will tell the same story three times. The first time, they will each speak for one minute. Then, have the…

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What am I? An ESL Speaking Warm-Up

What am I? An ESL Warm-Up Activity

Skills: Speaking/listening/reading Age: 10+ Materials Required: Tape or pins and vocabulary words on paper What am I? is a classic party game that is an excellent way for beginner students to practice asking simple questions. I often use it as an ESL speaking warm-up in the next class if in the previous one we studied about question forms. For more advanced students, you can choose much harder vocabulary words instead of simple ones like you would for beginners. A good topic for advanced students (or a party you are hosting) is famous people. Write a bunch of animals, jobs, hobbies…

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2 Lesson Plans for Advanced ESL Students

2 Lesson plans for advanced ESL students

Here are 2 lesson plans for advanced ESL students that are guaranteed to get your students speaking English and enjoying their conversation or discussion class. Renewable Energy The first is a renewable energy ESL lesson plan. It’s perfect for advanced ESL students anywhere in the world that are reasonably knowledgeable about technology. It also contains my PPT that I used for a 3-hour class, although I’ve adapted this lesson for classes ranging from 1.5 to 4 hours. Youth Unemployment in Korea The second is a lesson plan for advanced students about Youth Unemployment in Korea. In this case, I used…

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Charades ESL Game

charades esl speaking game

Charades ESL Game: An Introduction Skills: Speaking Time: 20-30 minutes Level: Beginner to Advanced Materials Required: White board You can use this charades ESL speaking game to review whatever you’re studying. For example, verbs work especially well. Write out some phrases or words that can be easily acted out on small pieces of paper and put them in an envelope. It’s an excellent way to review vocabulary. Related: Top 10 ESL Review Activities Divide the class up into two teams. The first team sends one person, the captain up to the front and they have to act out and describe…

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