Five Fun ESL Activities Every Teacher Should Know
The following activities may be adapted for use as warmers, engage activities, structured practice or free practice style activities. They may also be adapted for level and age.
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- Grammar Drill
The first one is really simple but can be one of the best activities to improve grammar. Some students even at the higher levels are lacking automatic habits, which are really important for grammatical skill. Basically this activity is a grammar drill and it is supposed to be used as a warmer or as an ice-breaker activity. The main objective is to help your students automate some grammatical skills.
An example would be to use this activity to practice different forms of verbs, for example ‘do’ versus ‘does’ or different forms of the verb ‘to be’. It is not about the correct production and it's not about the functions, it's solely about the form and how to produce the form correctly and automatically. You can also do the same with auxiliary verbs, with some participles and so on.
- 20 Questions
The next the next activity is called 20 questions, but it can be adapted for lower level students to 10 questions or even 5 questions. The procedure is also easy, you just need to hide a picture, for example, of a celebrity and then the task is for your students to produce questions to find out who it is. When they ask questions you can only answer, yes or no.
This activity is good as an ice-breaker or as an introduction to a lesson in which you want to cover certain vocabulary; you can then choose a picture which will help bring out associated vocabulary.
- Question Dialogs
The next one this is pretty challenging. It is better to be used with higher level students who already know some question forms. To start the game you get the students in pairs and they each start by asking random questions, for example, how are you? Then their partner follows up with another question, rather than an answer, for example, why do you ask? And the pair tries to keep this conversation going as long as it is possible. You don't have to worry about any mistakes and basically you don't have you don't have to create any special tools or any materials; it is just a fun activity to have them practice question forms.
The idea is that students look at ready-made pictures that are related to the particular story and placed all over your whiteboard. You instruct your students to put the pictures in order because they were mixed up. It is a predicting activity where they try to put it put the pictures in order without knowing what is actually going to happen in the story. You then read out the correct version of the story and they see how they have done. It can be made very simple for lower level students and become as complicated as needed for the higher level students. It can be useful as an ice-breaker or as a ‘lead in’ to a particular vocabulary or grammar lesson.
The final idea is also fun easy. You have to write a story from which some words are removed. You are going to replace the words removed with a single word that obviously does not fit the story (for example sausage or banana). You then read out the story with the substitute words added. Students will realize what is happening after a while.
You can then give them a printed version of the story with gaps where you said, sausage or banana and ask them to fill in the gaps.
The activity is useful to practice vocabulary that has been recently covered and can be adapted for level and age of the students.
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