Top 10 ESL Conversation Activities for Adults

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ESL conversation activities

Are you trying to figure out what to actually do in your English conversation class for adults? That’s a good question.

The good news is that you’ve come to the right place! Here are some of my favourite ESL activities for adults.

ESL Conversation Activities

If you want to make your English conversation class as interesting, engaging and fun as possible for the students, you’ll need these top ESL activities for adults. They’re guaranteed to get your students speaking English in the most painless way possible! They range from warm-ups, to fun games to complete ESL lessons.

Check out these conversation activities below. Clicking on the title will take you to the article with all the information. How to set it up, resources needed, etc.

#1: The Small Talk Game

Small talk is an important of the English language, but it’s often an overlooked skill. Part of the reason people think that others aren’t great at English when they really are quite capable is because they lack the ability to make small talk.

I’m not sure why we don’t teach it more in our classes. Perhaps it’s because the textbook don’t really focus on it? Maybe it’s hard to teach students to do it well?

Whatever the case, help out your students with one of my favourite ESL conversation games for adults.

You can get students practicing it while having fun with this game. I like it so much because there’s an element of competition to it that keeps things interesting. However, it’s best for intermediate to advanced students because it requires maintaining a conversation about a variety of topics for a set period of time.

Learn more about it here: Small Talk Activity.

#2: The Cocktail Party

This is another small talk conversation activity for adults that gets student mingling and mixing. It’s great at replicating real life. Students will be having conversations just like they would at a cocktail party. Give your students confidence that they can venture out into the real world and use English!

Find out more here: The Cocktail Party ESL Activity for Adults.

#3: The Hobby Unit-A Fun ESL Conversation Activity

I’m so, so weary of the hobby unit because I’ve taught it so many times. Here’s an interesting activity I do that gets my students engaged, asking follow-up questions and talking together. Student centered language teaching at its best!

I like this activity as well because you can use it with pairs, or groups of 3-5. It’s flexible and can be adapted to most levels, ages and class sizes.

Check it out here: How to Avoid the Hobby Unit Brain Rot.


ESL Activities for Adults

#4: Role Plays

If you teach beginner students, it can be a little bit difficult to do some of these conversation activities that are mentioned in the list. They simply don’t have the grammar and vocabulary skills necessary to engage in a conversation beyond the very basic facts. Many ESL conversational games are just beyond their reach.

Something you can do to help your beginners is to use role-plays in class. These will help them to have short conversations, build some confidence and also get creative. The best ones have a number of possibles ways that students can answer.

They are also perfect for a huge variety of topics and they can really help your students improve their sentence structure. Before speaking, students can a bit of practice with writing.

It’s like a conversation, but it’s a bit more structured. You can learn more about how to use role plays in your English classes here:

Quick tip: if you anticipate using these role-plays from semester to semester with multiple classes, make some cards with the details of each role-play on them and laminate them.

They can make an excellent review before a final exam as students have to work in a group through a few of them together. It’s a simple activity that’s ideal for any age of student with a few guidelines.

#5: Conversation Lesson Plans

A common question that newbie foreign ESL teachers have is how to plan a lesson. You may ask around at work and not get a single satisfying answer. Perhaps nobody really seems to know? It can seem overwhelming, but it’s actually not that difficult.

Teaching ESL is not easy, especially if you want to do it well. However, a good class starts with a good lesson plan, and they can help you bring some order out of the chaos that’s possible if you don’t have this in place.

I often plan my own conversation class lesson plans based around a topic that is in the news. Here are 6 samples to check out and see how I do it.

They are mostly for students based in Korea, so you’ll have to adapt them for your own students. Even if you don’t teach in Korea, check them out and you’ll be able to see how to plan an English speaking lesson.

All the details here: Conversation Lesson Plans for Adults.

#6: Find Someone Who Bingo

This ESL warm-up game is an excellent way to get students moving around the class and getting to know each other. You can use it as the beginning of the semester on the first day or class, or later on for an energizer if the students are low energy.

Students walking around, having fun while speaking English with lots of different partners? This activity will help to create some buzz about your lesson and around your school. Students love to play this TEFL conversation game.

Love it! I’m sure you will too. These are usually the best kind of ESL conversation activities.

More details here: Find Someone Who Bingo.

#7: Just a Minute

If you ask your students in your ESL classroom, many of them will mention speaking fluently in English as their top priority in your class. However, many of the exercises we do focus a lot on accuracy.

Just a Minute is a speaking activity that focuses exclusively on speaking. It’s a nice warm-up at the beginning of class that’s best for intermediate to advanced level students.

The way it works is that you write a bunch of words on the board. Then, students will have to talk about one of them (chosen randomly) for a full minute, or two minutes (depending on the level).

It’s easy to turn this into a conversation activity by requiring the people “listening” to ask 2-3 follow-up questions once the person is finished speaking. You can learn more about this English speaking activity here:

#8: Dialogue Substitution

Ask your adult students what they want to do in your class and they’re often say speaking or conversation. If they’re intermediate or advanced level, this is easy enough to make happen.

However, if students are lower level, it can be difficult to design activities and games to get them speaking that aren’t too difficult.

Basically, you take a dialogue like you might find in your textbook and then leave key elements out. Put students into a group or pair and they can work on it together.

Sounds right for your students? You can learn more about it here: Dialogue Substitution Activity. It’s one of my favourite ESL speaking activities for adults who are lower-level language learners.

#9: Find Something in Common

Another one of my favourite ESL adult activities is this simple one where students have to find some things in common with someone else. It’s best as an icebreaker on the first day of class when students don’t know each other that well.

Do this at the end of the semester and it’ll likely be far too easy. Students could probably do it without even talking to each other. So, keep this ESL conversation idea for the first class or two.

You can find out more about this conversation class activity here: Finding Something in Common.

#10: Partner Conversation Starters

This is another one of those activities ideal for adult beginners who want to get some practice with speaking or conversation. The way it works it that you give students the first few lines of a conversation and then they have to work with a partner to complete it.

Once they’re made their conversation, they have to memorize, and present it to the rest of the class. It’s a fun way for students to get a little bit creative, but has enough structure for beginners.

Check out these ESL Discussion Topics here: Partner Conversation Starter ESL Activity.

Like these ESL activities for adults?

If you found these ESL conversation games useful, then you’ll need to check out this book: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. Conversation classes for adults? They’re no problem when you have this book of ideas at your fingertips.

Speaking games for adults? There are a ton of them and unlike many other ones you’ll find around the Internet, each ESL game is fun! Make ESL conversation for adults fun again. Your students will love you for it.

There are almost 40 ESL activities that require very little in the way of preparation when you’re teaching English. Planning your speaking classes is easy, with a wide array of fun and interesting activities.

The book is available in both digital and print formats. The (very cheap!) digital one can be read on any device. You just have to download the free Kindle reading app. Top-quality ESL activities to have at your fingertips anywhere you go? Love it!

Check out the book on Amazon today. Click the button below to learn more about this popular book of ESL speaking activities for adults.


What Do you Think about these ESL Conversation Activities for Adults?

Do you have one or two favourite ESL conversation games and activities for when you’re teaching ESL students? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’re open to new ideas for teaching English!

Also be sure to contact me with any questions that you might have about ESL activities for adults.

And don’t forget to share the word about this ESL teaching awesome on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.


Last update on 2019-07-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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