Are you looking for some fun, engaging ESL health activities to make your health lessons even better? Then you’re most definitely in the right place. Keep on reading for my favourite ESL health games and activities to add to your classes.
ESL Health Activities and Games
Let’s get into the best ESL health games for the classroom to consider trying out with your students.
#1: Just One Question
This is a survey kind of activity with a bit of a twist. Each pair of students will only ask one question to their classmates. Then, they’ll tabulate the results and report them back to the class. In this case, you’d want to focus on health-related questions. The sky is actually the limit in terms of what students could ask each other!
If you want to learn more, you can find out more details here: Just One Question ESL Survey Activity.
#2 ESL Health Game: Taboo
You’ve probably played taboo at a party before. It’s where you have to describe a word without using other certain words. I’ve adapted it for ESL by omitting the second part.
In this case, you’d want to write down a bunch of health-related vocabulary words on cue cards. Then, a student has to select one from the pile and describe it to their teammates. You can turn this into a whole game by having a number of timed rounds with different people describing words each round.
Check it out here: Taboo ESL Game.
#3: Do you Like to _____?
This is a simple warm-up activity for beginners that can be used for a variety of topics, including health. The way it works is that students write down a few facts about themselves related to health. They could be either healthy or unhealthy things. For example:
- I rarely drink water
- I love to eat salads for lunch
- I’m a junk food junkie
Once the students are done, they cut up each statement into a strip of paper and you distribute them randomly throughout the class to the other students. Then, they have to find matches for their papers by asking correct questions.
You can learn more about this ESL health activity here: Do you like to? ESL Warmer.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)
#4 ESL Health Game: Vocabulary Auction
Although this health game takes a while to set up, the results are so good that it’s totally worth it. I love to do this activity at least once per semester, but I’ll generally only do it in classes where I can prepare once, but use it multiple times with different sets of students.
In this case, the vocabulary you choose would all be related to health. You can learn how to do it here: ESL Vocabulary Auction.
#5 ESL Health Activity: Partner Conversation Starters
If you tell your students to, “Talk about health” for 5 minutes with their partner, you may have a lot of silence going on in your classroom. Of course, it depends on the country that you’re teaching in if this will happen or not.
The better way is to give your students a small list of conversation starters related to health that they can use if they’d like to. Encourage free discussion, but then tell students to refer to the conversation prompts if they need another thing to talk about.
Check it out here: English Conversation Starters.
#6: Picture Prompt
This is a quick warm-up ESL activity that makes a nice lead-in to your health lesson. It’s an ideal way to help students activate their prior knowledge about this topic. Put up a picture on the screen, either of very healthy, or very unhealthy.
Then, depending on the level of the students, you could do a few different things. For beginners, they could simply state vocabulary words they know from the picture. Higher-level students could discuss with a partner about what they see, or compare that person to themselves.
Check out this ESL health activity here: Picture Prompt ESL Warm-Up.
#7 ESL Health Activities: Dictogloss
This is a classic ESL activity that’s perfect for helping students improve their listening skills. It challenges them to try and understand as much as possible from something that is slightly too difficult for them. Then, the response can either be with writing or speaking.
In this case, the reading passage you choose to use should be related to health. Even better if there are lot of vocabulary from it that are new words that the students have just learned. Bonus points for you!
Do you want to try it out in your classes? More details here: Dictogloss ESL Listening Activity.
#8: Agony Aunt
Have you ever noticed that the health topics in ESL textbooks is often paired with problem/advice? They just fit so nicely together that it’s natural to do this. One of the ways to spice up problems and advice is with this Agony Aunt ESL activity.
Find out what you need to do here: Agony Aunt Problem/Advice Activity.
#9: Just a Minute
Just a Minute is a fun activity for your more advanced students. Students have to speak for a minute without stopping on a certain topic. In this case, you could use something like, “Are you healthy or unhealthy? Why?”
The best thing about this activity is that you can turn it into a fun conversation activity by requiring the students who are listening to ask some follow-up questions.
#10: English Central Videos
I’m ALL about using videos in my classes for a variety of reasons, but the most common one is that I’ll use them as a quick warm-up. There are lots of options on YouTube, or you may also consider English Central which is geared specifically to English learners.
Either way, the key is to design a variety of activities related to the video so your students get the most out of it. Find out more details here:
#11: Word Association
This is a super-quick ESL warmer that helps students to activate prior knowledge they have about health vocabulary. Basically, students shout out some vocab words related to the topic and help you categorize them into a mind map.
Learn more about it here: Word Association ESL Vocabulary Activity.
#12 ESL Health Games: Charades
You can use this game for just about the topic, but it does work quite well with health. Think about things like drinking too much, smoking, jogging, eating a salad. Students acting this stuff out will likely be hilarious and you’ll have a great class.
Learn more about using charades with ESL students here: ESL Charades.
#13: Find Someone Who Bingo Game
This is an ESL icebreaker that can be very, very easily adapted into a health Bingo Game. Instead of getting to know you questions, choose ones related to health. More details here:
#14: ESL Health Surveys
I love using ESL surveys in my classes. They’re super easy to design and are a true 4-skills ESL activity. They’re also ideal for sleepy classes because students have to get out of their seats and mingle with their classmates.
In this case, you’d want to focus yours on health. There is certainly a wide variety of questions you could consider adding.
Find out more about using them here: ESL Surveys.
Or, check out some other frequency expression activities as well.
#15 ESL Health Game: Running Dictation
This classic ESL game is a favourite with most of my students. It’s ideal because it gets students up out of their seats and moving around the classroom. Try it out on Monday morning or Friday afternoon and you’ll probably love the results.
The way it works is that you choose a short dialogue or conversation related to health. Then, divide it up into sentences and put the strips of paper around the classroom. The students have to work together to recreate the conversation or dialogue.
Learn more about it here: Running Dictation ESL Game.
#16: Telephone Game
If you want to review some key health vocab, then consider playing this fun game for kids: telephone. The way it works is that you give the first student in line a sentence with some health words in it. Then, they have to pass that along until it reaches the end. At the point, compare with the original.
If you’ve ever played this before you’ll know that the results are usually hilarious! Find out all the details you need to know here:
#17: Modal Verbs and Health Activities
Modals (may, might, should, can, etc.) are a natural fit to go along with a unit on healthy or unhealthy habits. Have a look here for some of the best ideas for teaching them:
#18: Hot Potato ESL Health Game
One of the best ESL health games is Hot Potato if you want to create some fun and excitement in your classes. You may have played this as a kid but this version has a twist.
The person holding the potato when the music stops has to answer (or ask) a question of some kind related to health. Some examples could be:
- What are your healthy (unhealthy) habits?
- How often do you _____?
- When was the last time you _____?
#19: Task-Based Health Activities
There are a number of in-depth activities that are perfect for ESL health lessons. In particular, a presentation about a topic like smoking, drinking, diet, etc. can be an ideal way to go deeper with this vocabulary. I also like it because students can learn some things that may benefit them in their “real life.”
There are lots of other task-based activities to consider as well that will work well. Here are some of the best options:
#20: Plan your Own Health Lesson Plan
It’s easier than you might think to plan your own lesson plan about almost anything, including this topic. Check out this video for the simple steps to follow:
#21: Health Role-Plays
A nice activity for an ESL health lesson is to do some role-plays. For example, situations like going to the doctor for a small ailment work particularly well for this. Learn how to use them in your classes here:
#22: Fruit and Vegetable ESL Activities
Of course, eating fruits and veggies is closely linked with better health! That’s why these vocabulary words can be a natural fit for this unit. If you want to see some of the best ideas for this topic, have a look here:
#23: Body Parts ESL Games and Activities
Health and body parts are a natural fit for each other and I always like to slip in a bit of body part review into this unit. Things like eyelashes, lips, toes, nails, etc. are easy to forget because students don’t use these words that often. Here are some of my favourite ways to do this:
#24: TEFL Fruits and Vegetables Quiz
Try out this simple online quiz with your students:
#25: What Am I?
This is a quick warm-up activity that I often use for famous people. However, it can be easily adapted into a fun health class activity.
On a PowerPoint slide, put pictures of various healthy and unhealthy things. For example, someone smoking, jogging, fruits and veggies, taking a shower, etc. Then, put students into pairs and they have to take turns describing one of the activities to their partner who has to guess what it is. Try it out:
#26: Small Group Discussion about Health
I personally find health one of the most interesting topics in ESL/EFL textbooks. Almost everyone has an opinion about healthy or unhealthy activities and it’s one of those things that basically everyone is interested in!
When I’m teaching intermediate or advanced level students, I love to have some small group discussion time related to health. It’s usually a hit and students always have lots to talk about! Here are some tips for setting up this time to make it as awesome as possible:
#27: Health Board Games
I love to play board games in real life and I also enjoy getting my students to play them in class. It’s easy enough to design a game in just a few minutes. Have a look here to find out how I do it:
#28: Use Realia
Why show flashcards or describe objects if you can bring the real thing? Use a bunch of healthy/unhealthy things:
- fruits and veggies
- junk food wrappers
- cigarette box
- various kinds of drinks
- sports equipment
Then, have students name the objects and decide if they’re healthy or unhealthy. Learn more here:
#29: Kinds of Doctors
Help students remember the names of the various medical specialties with this handy guide:
Health Vocabulary for English Learners
If you’re looking for some common ESL health vocabulary that you could include in these activities or games, or teach your students, then here are a few ideas:
- Emergency room (ER)
- Runny nose
- Throw up
ESL Health Lesson Plans
Are you looking for some ready-made ESL health lessons? Then these activities and games probably aren’t what you need. Check out our go-to source for lesson plans that are ideal for beginners to advanced, kids or adults.
Do you have any go-to sources for health lesson plans for ESL/EFL students? Leave a comment below and let us know your favourite resources. We’ll add them to this list.
ESL Health Worksheets
Do you want some health worksheets that you can use with your students or assign them for homework? Here are some of the best resources from around the web for ESL health and fitness worksheets:
What about a printable fitness quiz? If you want to design a quick quiz to give your students related to health and fitness, here’s our go-to source.
What are some Conversation Questions for Health and Fitness?
If you want to get the discussion ball rolling, then you’ll want to check out this list of health and fitness questions for ESL/EFL students.
- Do you regularly exercise?
- Are you healthy or unhealthy? Give some examples of your good and bad habits.
- How are your eating habits?
- Do you have a weakness for a certain kind of junk food?
- How often do you get sick?
- How much do you drink?
- Do you eat lots of fruits and veggies?
- What’s your normal daily diet like?
- Do you ever eat fast food?
- Are you interested in health and fitness?
- How often do you go to the dentist?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Have you ever stayed overnight in the hospital?
- How much stress do you have?
- Do you smoke?
- What do you do when catching a cold or the flu?
- Is it unhealthy to have pets in your home?
- How long do you think you’ll live?
- Do you wake up to your alarm or just naturally?
- How much sleep do you get? Is it enough?
- What do you know about “wellness?”
Do you have any questions about health and fitness that you like to talk with your students about? Let us know by leaving a comment below and we’ll add them to this list.
Did you like these ideas for an ESL Health Lesson?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)
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The book is available in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office and use it as a handy reference guide. Or, take it with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Yes, it really is that easy to have better ESL classes.
Check it out on Amazon, but only if you want to get yourself a dose of ESL awesome in your life:
Have your Say about ESL Health and Wellness Activities
What are your thoughts about these ideas for an ESL health lesson? Do you have a go-to game or activity for the wellness unit? Leave a comment below and we’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2023-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API