Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels

students refusing to participate

Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels is what you need if you teach a wide variety of students from beginner to advanced. All of these activities can be adapted to make them very easy, or quite difficult.

If you want to save time when you’re planning your lessons, keep the framework of the lessons the same (same activities, games, etc.) but then adapt the material to suit the individual class. Keep reading for my top 10 ESL activities for all levels of students.

#1: Agony Aunt: Problem + Advice ESL Activity

Everyone knows how to solve each other’s problems! Even low-level students can read a simple problem and give some advice using the grammatical structure, “He should… He shouldn’t…” And of course you can adapt this activity to make it much more complicated by offering a difficult problem and then expecting more detailed advice with perhaps a short presentation to the class.

Check out Agony Aunt.

#2: English Central: YouTube for English Learners

I love English Central! They have a ton of videos that make the perfect introduction to a lesson. Or, you could even get your creative juices flowing and centre and entire lesson around one of them. They have a nice range from beginner to advanced and you’ll definitely be able to find something suitable for each class.

Check out how I use English Central in my classroom.

#3: Story Timeline: An Excellent Reading Review

If you want to get students to review what they’ve read, use this story timeline activity. You simply have to adapt the story to suit the level of your students, but the actual activity can stay the same. It really is one of my Top 10 ESL Activities for all levels.

More details about Story Timeline.

#4: Cosmo Quiz: Easily Adaptable for all Levels!

If you teach adults who are quite high level, you can use the actual quizzes from Cosmo to spice things up in your classroom. However, if your students are children or lower-level adults, you can find a whole variety of quizzes to suit their needs. Even very low-level students can do quizzes with questions like, “What’s your favourite color?” or, “What do you do on the weekend?” If you can’t find a suitable quiz on the Internet, you can make your own. These quizzes are often great discussion starters for ESL students.

Cosmo Quizzes for ESL Students.

#5: Dialogue Substitution: Excellent Conversation Practice

Dialogue Substitution works best with lower-level students, but I’ve used it with all levels up to advanced. The key is to give advanced students only a couple lines at the start of the conversation and then freedom to continue in their own way. It’s an excellent way to get higher-level students using some vocabulary or grammar that might not be too familiar to them.

More details about Dialogue Substitution.

#6: Dictogloss: A Classic ESL Activity

Dictogloss belongs firmly on any list of the Top 10 ESL Activities because it’s a classic! You can easily adapt dictogloss for any level of ESL student by making the story shorter/longer or using simple or complicated grammar and vocab. Writing usually makes it harder than speaking. Alone is also harder than in a group of 2 or 3.

Here’s how this classic ESL Activity works.

#7: ESL Surveys: One of the Top 10 ESL Activities!

Ask any of my students what my favourite ESL activity is and they’ll without a doubt answer, “Surveys!” They’re so, so, so useful in any language classroom. Try them out and I’m sure you’ll agree. The key is to make them easy or challenging enough for your students. But, this is easy to do with a bit of practice.

More details about ESL Surveys here.

#8: Is that Sentence Correct: An ESL Grammar Activity

If you want to review English grammar, you’ve found your activity. It’s so easy to adapt this to just about any level or student or structure/vocabulary that you’re studying.

Here’s how Is that Sentence Correct? works.

#9: ESL Listening: How to Teach It

While not strictly an ESL Activity, this does belong on my list of Top 10 ESL Activities because it’s so useful. Listening is a skill that all students need to practice and here is how to teach it well!

An ESL Listening Lesson Template.

#10: Odd One Out: An ESL Warm-Up

Odd One Out is one of my favourite ESL warm-up activities. I’ve used it with beginners who could barely read and also with extremely high-level students who were basically fluent. Just adapt the words you use and also the explanation required.

Check out Odd-One Out.

That rounds out our list of Top 10 ESL Activities for all Levels. I hope you enjoyed them. Comment below and tell me your favourite ESL activity that you use with a wide range of students from beginner to advanced.

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