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 or whatever vocabulary you want on slips of paper. Then tape or pin one to each student’s back so that they can’t see what it is. They have to go around to their classmates asking yes/no questions to find out what they are. For example, “Do I have four legs?” After each question, they can make a guess and the other student will answer “yes” or “no.” They can only ask each student one question, so they will talk to almost everyone in the class by the end of the activity.

Teaching Tips:
Be sure to pick vocabulary that you are sure everyone is familiar with. This game really isn’t fun for the student who is unlucky enough to get “armadillo. ”

Also, emphasize to students that this game is just for fun and the purpose is to enjoy themselves while practicing some questions in English. While they can just look at their own paper or get someone to tell them the word, it’s not useful and it won’t feel good to figure out the word through cheating.

Procedure:
1. The teacher prepares slips of paper with the target vocabulary.
2. The teacher pins or tapes one slip to each student’s back.
3. Students walk around the class asking one classmate one yes/no question. The classmate answers the question and after each question, they can have one guess as to what the secret thing is.
4. If incorrect, they talk to another classmate and follow the same procedure. If correct, they take a rest, or get another paper from the teacher depending on time. A student can only ask one question to each student in the class—they cannot speak to the same student twice.

Want more ESL Speaking Warm-Up awesome in your life? I’m sure that answer is yes. Then, you’ll need this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Teenagers and Adults. It’ll be the best $2.99 you’ve spent all month.

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