We’ve all been there—a few minutes left at the end of class but nothing planned. Or, you may even have an entire class thrown at you at the last minute and don’t have time to prepare. That’s where time fillers ESL activities and games come in. Kill some time in style with these filler game ideas!
What to do when you have free time in class? It’s really no problem at all. We’re here to help!
Time Fillers: ESL Games and Activities
Let’s get to the best ESL time filler games. Have some fun with those few extra minutes in your class with some of these time fillers ideas. What to do when you have free time in class? Wonder no more! Oh, and using these activities is one of my best substitute teaching tricks! The students won’t misbehave if they’re interested in what they’re doing.
You may also want to check out these last day of school activity ideas.
#1: 20 Questions
This is the ultimate time filler of ESL filler games! Not only does it take up a good amount of time, but it definitely has an educational value as well.
Higher-level students can play the game as they normally would. For lower-level, I reduce the number of questions and restrict it to a certain category, such as animals. Check it out:
#2: Prepositions of Place Quiz
Pulling out some fun online quizzes is one my top substitute teaching tricks. Try out this simple game with your students:
#3: Would you Rather?
Have some time to fill in your TEFL class? No problem! Just play a few rounds of would you rather. You can make the questions or have students come up with some for the class. Learn more:
#4: Picture Prompt: ESL Time Filler
Showing some pictures in class (Google Images) can be a nice way to fill some time in English class. Students can shout out some vocabulary words that they know, make some sentences about what people are doing, or even use them as the basis for some writing.
There are a ton of ideas. Have a look here:
#5: Just a Minute
This is the ultimate time-filling activity in that it requires nothing in the way of preparation or materials and can be adapted to just about any level. Have a look right here:
#6: 5 Senses: Time Filler Activity for ESL
This is a quick writing or speaking activity that makes a nice time-filling ESL activity. Show students an object of some kind and they have to use some words to describe how the 5 senses relate to that. Have a look here:
#7: Chain Spelling
Have some time to kill in your language class? Why not work on some spelling in a fun way? Have a look at this activity:
#8: Watch some Videos
If you have some time to fill in your ESL class, then videos always make a nice option. I find looking on YouTube for appropriate ones overwhelming, so generally head over to English Central for this. This is one of the best substitute teaching tricks when all else fails!
#9: Let’s Draw a Picture
This is the ultimate time-killer for your ESL class because it requires nothing in the way of materials or preparation. Students have to describe something (a monster or alien) to another student who has to draw it without looking. The results are usually hilarious. Check it out:
#10: Hangman: ESL Time Filler Activity
This is a classic time-filler ESL activity that students of all ages seem to enjoy. I prefer making a spider or a face because something hanging in is a little bit gruesome!
#11: Jigsaw Activities: Time Filler Games
#12: Charades Time-Filler
If you want to fill some time, then consider this classic party game. Quickly jot down some words or phrases on pieces of paper and get to it! Find out more here:
#13: Disappearing Text
Try out this quick activity to fill some time at the end of class. It’s a nice way to review key concepts as well. Write down a sentence on the board, and students have to say it out loud. Erase 1-2 words and students say it again. Keep going until there’s nothing on the board, but students are saying the entire sentence. Try it out:
Disappearing Text ESL Activity.
#14: Typhoon Game: Timer Filler Game
If you want to have some fun while killing some time, plus do a little bit of review, this is your activity! Have a look:
#15: The Expert Time Fillers Activity
If you have at least 10 minutes to kill, then you may want to consider trying out this activity with your higher-level students. In pairs, students have to have short conversations about things that they’re an expert in. Find out more about it here:
#16: Word Challenge Spelling Game
#17: Phone Show and Tell ESL Time Killer
Want to use up lots of time in a fun way? Tell students to get out their phones and find an interesting picture from their gallery. If you have a small class, students can show everyone and talk about it. With a bigger class, do this in groups of 3 or 4. It’s like show and tell, 2021 style!
#18: Dictogloss: Filler Games for ESL
#19: Never Have I Ever
I’m sure you’ve played the drinking game, Never Have I Ever. You can also use this as a time-filler ESL game to find out who’d had the most interesting life. Learn how:
#20: Speaking Fluency Activity
#21: Dictation Review
Okay, so dictation is kind of old-school, but it certainly does have some value. Say a sentence, and students have to listen and then write it down.
To increase the difficulty, I’ll often say a question, and students dictate it and then answer it. Or vice-versa.
#22: Count Up Game
Put students into pairs and say a number. I’ll use 21 for my example. Students have to add 1,2, or 3, starting from zero and the first person to get to 21 or over loses. Here’s how the game might go:
1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13, 15, 18, 20. Then the next person would be forced to choose 21 or higher.
#23: Alphabet Game: Classroom Timer Filler
#24: Debates: Time Filler Activity
A nice activity to fill some time that requires almost nothing in the way of prep is to have a small debate. Choose a silly, fun, or controversial topic, and students can discuss it in pairs or as a class. Here are some of the best topic ideas:
List of Pointless Debate Topics.
#25: I Spy
This is a simple game to fill some time in class! Choose something that you can see and say, “I spy with my little eye something that is _____(green).” Students can take turns guessing what it is.
#26: Odd One Out
#27: Two Truths and a Lie
This is a simple game that you can do with a small class, or have bigger classes divide up into groups of 4-5. Students have to think of 3 statements about themselves. 2 are true and one is false. Then, the other students have to guess which one is false.
T0 level-up, consider having a question period, where the other students can ask questions about the statements to try to uncover which one is false.
#28: I’m Going on a Picnic: ESL Time Filler Activity
This is a classic road trip game that can be used as a way to waste time in class as well! Find out all the details you need to know about it right here:
#29: Hot Potato: Time Filler for ESL Students
Try out this fun game with your students to fill some time in class:
Have some fun by getting students to draw pictures and their teammates have to guess what it is. It’s a nice way to review key vocabulary so it’s more than just a time-filler!
#31: Would You Rather Questions
The ultimate time-filler activity for the classroom.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 81 Pages - 12/19/2022 (Publication Date)
#32: Teach Phonics
If you’re going to just fill the time, why not do something useful? Work on some reading skills, including phonics! Keep a stack of worksheets on hand for just this opportunity. Find out more:
Did you like these Time Filling ESL Activities?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Smith, Jennifer Booker (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 133 Pages - 03/31/2016 (Publication Date)
Yes? Then you’re going to love this book on Amazon: 101 ESL Activities for Kids. It’s the book you need for teaching English to children.
The key to better ESL classes with kids is a wide variety of interactive activities and this book will help you get there in style. You can get the book in digital, print or audio formats so pick it up today!
FAQs About ESL Time Filler Games and Activities
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about classroom time fillers and the best filler games and activities. Check out the answers and let us know if you find them helpful!
What are time fillers?
Time fillers are short games and activities that teachers can use during the extra few minutes at the end of class time. If you are done with the lesson but have 5 to 10 minutes left at the end of the class, you can use time fillers to keep the students engaged and stay productive without wasting time.
How can I fill my class time?
Teachers can use ESL time filler games and activities to fill the last few minutes of class time. Time fillers are great ways to use time efficiently, and keep students engaged and productive.
What can I do in 5 minutes in class?
Following are some of the best time filler games for teachers to use in their classrooms: 20 Questions, Prepositions of Place Quiz, Would You Rather?, Picture Prompt, Just a Minute, 5 Senses, Chain Spelling, Hangman, Jigsaw Activities, Charades Time Filler, Disappearing Text, Typhoon Game, Word Challenge Spelling Game, Dictogloss, Alphabet Game, and Debates.
What does time filler mean?
Time filler means an activity in time that would otherwise be wasted. In a classroom setting, it’s usually the last few minutes of class when the teacher is done with the lesson for the day.
ESL Time Filler: Join the Conversation
What’s your top pick for a time-filler activity? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also, be sure to give this article a share on Facebook or Pinterest. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself, who are looking to fill a few minutes of class time.
Last update on 2022-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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