Fun Activities for ESL/EFL Students
Fun Activities for Learning English
No Preparation Necessary
I’m a TESOL teacher in Portugal and our school has very poor resources; the photocopier has an attitude and the computer sometimes doesn’t like to be turned on. I could go on, the list is truly disheartening, but instead I’ve decided to write this article to provide a solution.
If you’re a teacher like me and you need wonderfully engaging activities that take little or no preparation, you’ve come to the right spot. Below are a list of games and activities to keep all levels happy.
1. Describe the picture/word – Can be used with most levels. Students simply choose a picture/word and describe it to the class without saying the actual word. The pictures/words can be nouns, adjectives or verbs. It’s a good one when you’re not in the mood to hammer home some new grammar or if the class looks a bit sluggish.
Here are some suggestions: Tired, Walk, Think, Lonely, Fast, Credit Card, Sandal, Mirror, Dragon, Fingernails, Strong, Bored, Horse Riding, Sofa, Sunglasses, Euros, Sneeze, Comfortable...etc.
TEFL Games: Freeze
2. Freeze – Split the class into 2 teams and stand them up. One team turns to the wall and covers their eyes (be warned, there will be cheating if you have windows in your classroom!). The other team has to act out something, e.g. rowing a boat. You yell freeze and they stop moving. The team who were not looking try to guess what the other team was doing.
This is a great game for teaching the present and past continuous. Another alternative is to give strips of paper to each student, e.g. I/Give/Dog/Bath. Stand the class in a circle and throw a ball to someone. Accuse them of doing something and they have to give their alibi using the cues from the slips of paper.
Learning English: Word Association
3. Word Association – I don’t know why they love this one so much, I guess because they are not sitting down looking at a book. It’s an old favourite - say a word, throw the ball to someone and they have to say a word that is associated. Give them a 5 second countdown and if they cannot think of a word in that time they have to sit down for a period. The ball gets thrown around the room and the vocabulary drifts off into many different categories.
It might be worth penalising the kids who will, no doubt, throw the ball too hard or into glass cabinets, by making them take a seat for a round.
Practice English Tenses Without Trying
4. Bombs Away - Great for practising the past, present, continuous, future, passive and mixed tenses. Print out the sheet and pair the students up. They draw their ships in the top picture, six ships altogether, two of each size, taking care that their partner doesn’t see. They then ask their opponent questions in whichever tense, e.g. Did Ken sing songs yesterday? No, he didn’t. Both players must discover the location of all the ships until there is a winner.
Great game, takes around 30 minutes. All you need is this printout: http://www.mes-english.com/games/bombsaway.php
Talk About the Future
5.Robots of the Future - Tell students to write a short story about their own personal robot of the future and what the robot will/won’t do, e.g. The robot will print money, the robot won’t use electricity. Get them to read out the story to class and the other students rate the story between one and three (It’s best to use secret ballot to collect the scores). If there is a small prize for the winner, your class strangely seems to pay more attention!
6. Dictionary quest – Not as exciting as it sounds, but still good for a 20 minute activity. The students will need dictionaries. Write a word on the board that they don’t understand and give four definitions, e.g. Tub
1. A tub is a verb - to attack someone.
2. A tub is a noun, it means friend.
3. A tub is a noun, also known as a container.
4. A tub is an adjective, used to describe the speed of something.
The students guess the answer and begin making similar definitions in pairs for other pairs of students.
7. Whispers – The younger classes are especially keen on this one. They all stand up and you whisper something in the ear of one student. They whisper it to the next student and so on until the last student reveals what the sentence is. It usually turns out to be gobbledygook by then.
9. WordsearchClick thumbnail to view full-size
You can get your students to make their own word searches using verbs, jobs, animals and many other categories. I get my students to aim for 10-15 words and make the words more than 5 letters long. They look for words in their books if they have writer's block. When they are finished they give the word search to another student. Simply print off a copy of the blank grid above and I promise you a silence you've never heard before will descend on the classroom!
10. Guess my Job
Write on the board these clues:
- I wear a uniform.
- I make lots of money.
- I am famous.
- I am a team player
What am I?
- I wear a uniform.
- I take peoples’ orders.
- I bring food to their tables.
- I clean tables.
What am I?
Ask students to guess the professions. Answer 1: A football player. Answer 2: A waiter/waitress. Then get the class to write out their own clues and they read them out to the class.
Variation - Have students write clues about objects.
- It's made from wood.
- It can be square or circular.
- Every house has one.
- We use it every day.
What is it?
- It's long and thin.
- It comes in different colours.
- You use these to draw or colour.
What is it?
Answers: A table, markers.
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Explanation of the Present Perfect Simple, exercises with answers and a fun game to practice what they’ve learned.
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