Just a Minute is a fun, engaging and interesting ESL warmup that works for just about any topic. Students have to ask their friends a single question about a specific topic and then tabulate, and report the results.
Read more to find out how to do it.
ESL Warm-Ups Questions
One of the things I find in English classes is that most of the burden is on the teacher. The teacher is the person who keeps the conversation going. She is the one who asks questions. She’s also the one who decides what to study and how.fac
Whenever possible, I like to take this burden off myself and try to go as student centred as is feasibly possible.
Just One Question is an excellent ESL warm-up to begin your classes with. They help ease the students back into using English in a fun, engaging way. This warm-up activity puts the emphasize where it should be-back on your students and gets them to talk to each other, instead of you.
Check out this ESL Warm Up questions activity.
Just 1 Question
Materials: Pen, paper
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Time: 10-15 minutes
Students have to think of one single question about a certain topic. For example, if you’re studying about holidays, they could use any of the following:
“What’s your least favourite holiday?”
“What did you do last _____?”
“What do you think about Valentine’s Day?”
Or, if your topic is technology, some questions could be:
“Are you an early adopter of new technology?”
“How often do you update your cell phone and why?”
“How many hours a day are you on electronics devices?”
There are many possibilities but I usually make a couple rules that it must be interesting and also that it can’t be a yes/no question.
Once students have done this, they ask at least 10 people their question and quickly record their answer with 1 or 2 words. After the time is up, they tabulate the answers and can quickly report to a small group what they found out about the topic.
You can ask each small group to share the most interesting, or favorite thing they learned with the entire class.
Variation: If you have a big class, you can put students into pairs to work together. They choose one single question together as a pair. Then, when they talk to other people, one person can be the “interviewer” and the other one can jot down notes. It makes things go more smoothly this way.
Quick Tip: It’s helpful if you circulate around the room as students are making their questions. This way, you can prevent too many people from using the same question. The key to making this an interesting as possible is a wide variety of questions.
Love this ESL Activity? Check out these ESL Teaching Books:
Procedure for Making these ESL Warm Up Questions:
Give students a topic and have each student make one interesting, good question about it. Give them examples of boring questions.
Some topics that work well include:
- Holiday and celebrations
- School life
- Movies and TV
- Culture (if students in your class are from different countries)
- Thoughts on money and jobs
Each student talks to 10+ students, using the same question for each one. They quickly write down answers with 1-2 words.
Students tabulate the results and report the results to a small group of 4-6 people (or the entire class if fewer than 10 students).
Follow-up by asking each small group the most interesting, or surprising thing that they learned about their classmates.
It really is possible for students to make their own questions!
Need More Warmup Questions?
Let’s be real, what English teacher doesn’t? Then you’ll need to check out these great resources:
All About Student-Centred Language Teaching
Just a minute is the perfect example of student-centred teaching. The students are thinking, speaking, listening, and doing most of the work. The teacher is just there to guide, monitor and give feedback.
When you’re teaching English, the students should be doing the hard work, not you! If you’re a chalkboard warrior, this is probably not happening. You can learn more about this style of teaching here:
Like this ESL Warm-Up Activity?
If you liked this activity then you’re going to love this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups: For Teenagers and Adults. There are enough fun, engaging and interesting ESL warm ups to see you through an entire semester.
Help ease your students back into using English by starting with a fun ESL warm-up. You’ll find that the rest of the lesson will go much more smoothly.
The book is available on Amazon in both print and electronic formats. The cheaper e-version can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. Check out the book for yourself on Amazon:
Just One Question: Have your Say about this ESL Warmup
Have you tried this activity? How did it go? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. And contact us if you have any questions about how to teach ESL or EFL.
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