New Year’s resolutions: love them or hate them? No matter what side of the line you stand on, you have to admit that the first of January is as good a date as any to set new intentions. For ESL teachers, this is the perfect time to freshen up your class environment and set new intentions for the year ahead.
Did you know that many of your students are intrigued by the idea of Western New Year’s celebrations? They see glamorous countdowns in movies and on TV. They want to be part of it! Don’t forget that in a lot of countries, New Year falls on a different date. So, if you’re a teacher in a country like Thailand, South Korea or China, take advantage of that enthusiasm and let your students experience New Year for themselves from the comfort of your classroom.
There are, however, some parts of our New Year’s traditions that should be left at the front door. The biggest culprit? Mindlessly writing down resolutions. Even the biggest New Year’s resolutions aficionados have no interest in this and your students certainly won’t either. Don’t put them off the fun of December 31st before they’ve even had the chance to properly enjoy it!
Instead, find ways to make setting new intentions for the year fun. This is a great opportunity to really set the tone for the rest of the school year. How do you want the year to go? What are your learning outcomes going to be? Or come up with questions specific to your group.
Before you get into setting new intentions, take an opportunity to reflect on 2017. You could do this by creating a collage of some of your favourite class memories or having a mini awards ceremony.
Another idea is to give your students prompts as part of a writing or speaking activity. For this, you could ask students to reflect on certain occasions from last year. For example, a time when they were kind, a fun class outing and the best thing that they learned. It’s also worth reflecting on things that they wish they could change from last year.
When it comes to setting new intentions, it’s best to look to the past for inspiration- no matter what age you are!
There’s a reason why routines like journaling and morning pages have gained so much popularity recently. Even with new technologies, the practice of putting pen to paper is still the best way to clear your head and be mindful of your thoughts.
It should be no surprise then, that writing activities go hand in hand with setting new intentions.
You might be worried that a project like this will be too complicated for your less advanced students and you definitely have reason to be. That’s why it’s important to really consider your students’ level when designing your activity.
For older and more advanced students, writing a letter to their future selves gives them a creative outlet to use their writing skills. Plus, it’s a fun activity to go back to before the summer break that will hold them accountable for their new intentions!
Younger students, on the other hand, could complete a semi-structured activity. This could be a simple fill in the blanks passage that they could decorate or a series of interview questions to answer.
Of course, in these situations, make sure your students feel comfortable to ask for guidance when they’re brainstorming their ideas. A complex writing activity like this is one of the few occasions when I’d recommend bringing some translation dictionaries to class.
(Don’t get too lax though. Absolutely no Google translate!)
New Class Rules
After your students have worked out what their own personal intentions are for the year, it’s time to set new class rules.
The first rule of ESL teaching is to harbour a positive and encouraging environment at all times. It’s for that reason that I advise throwing a lot of the old-fashioned rules about teaching out the window. Ironically, the first of those rules is dictating rules to the class.
The thing is, though, we all know that a well-disciplined class runs much more smoothly than a chaotic class. Truth be told, we do need class rules. We just need to be creative with them. Achieving a balance between a friendly environment and well-behaved class is difficult. But, it all comes down to how you develop and deliver those rules.
Almost all experienced ESL teachers will agree that creating new rules together as a class is the best way to go. By involving the students in the process, they’ll take it upon themselves to get involved in policing the class and be more mindful of their own behaviour at the same time.
This can also be made into a fun writing or conservation activity – setting rules AND encouraging good behaviour sounds like a win-win situation to me!
Despite all the clichés about setting New Year’s resolutions, the beginning of the new term is the perfect time to set new intentions with your class. Whether your students are kindergartners or Tokyo salarymen, everyone needs time to sit down and reflect on what they want to achieve in the year ahead. Hopefully, these fun class activities will help you shoot straight into 2018 with clear goals and intentions in mind!
About the Author
Hailing from Scotland, Nicole is an eternal expat addicted to travelling and eating spicy food. After spending 3 years teaching English in South Korea, she’s now on an indefinite journey through Latin America. She spends most of her days hunting out the best coffee and strongest WiFi but will never turn down the offer to hike a volcano or find a hidden beach. You can follow her blog, Wee Gypsy Girl, where she writes about all her international adventures! Visit her blog for a great read. Visit her Instagram or Facebook Page to connect.
It’s a fact that every child loves Christmas and New Year. This may be because everything is festive around this time of the year, but mostly because they get a ton of presents (which is becoming a cross-cultural phenomenon, too). Since the holiday season is upon us, we wanted to do something special so we came up with this list of fun activities that you can do with your students to celebrate.
Decorate the Classroom
For this activity, all you are going to need are 2-4 pairs of scissors, Scotch tape, and some blank paper. You can divide your students into 2-4 groups, depending on how many you have in your class so each group can get one pair of scissors. Your students will then make and cut out snowflakes, Christmas trees, and other decorations and tape them to the classroom windows. Those that are more creative can make a snowman, a house or a sleigh with Santa and colour them with crayons.
We do not recommend you do this activity with younger students whose fine motor skills have not yet fully developed. The scissors you are going to use should be sharp enough to cut through thin pieces of paper, but not so sharp the students could hurt themselves while cutting. Teacher supervision is, of course, a must here.
Write a Letter to Santa Claus
This is one of the easiest but possibly most fun activities that you can do with your students around Christmas. Each student should take a piece of paper and write their letter to Santa telling him what they want to get for Christmas. You can join in the fun and write one yourself.
At the end, when everyone has finished writing, you can give each student in your class an envelope and a stamp so you could send all of the letters to the North Pole.
In addition to encouraging children to learn through playing, the goal is to introduce children to the world of grownups through writing and literacy and to cherish written communication.
New Year’s Resolutions
If you plan on doing an interesting writing activity closer to New Year, this one is always a good choice. Have your student write down everything they want to achieve in the following year, be it related to school or not.
You will then take out a box or a bag in which you will put all of the letters your students wrote and come next winter holiday season, you will open the box and you and your students will read together what they wrote last year. They will then tell you if any of their wishes came true and what they did to make it happen.
“Happy Holidays” Greeting Card
In this simple activity, your pupils can make greeting cards to send to whomever they want. It can be their grandparents, mom and dad or even one of their classmates. The cards can be made by simply folding a piece of paper in half. Instruct your class to decorate the cards by drawing on them, encourage them to use as many colours as they like and to make the cards as festive as possible.
They can even take pieces of cotton and glue them onto the cards to resemble snow or little pearls from old necklaces that will be the ornaments on their trees.
This creative activity is perfect for all ages and that’s what makes it so great. You can do it with both your younger and older students and the results will be amazing every time.
Sharing is Caring
In the spirit of the holiday when we receive most presents, it is only fitting we give something back. You can talk to other teachers working in your school and make it an even bigger project or do it just with the class that you are teaching.
Ask your students to bring items they no longer need – it can be toys, clothes, old books or anything else. Tell them they can bring it throughout one whole week and that when the week is over, you will take everything they collected and donate it to the Red Cross, a children’s hospital or any charity that helps children in need or those that are less fortunate. Let your students know that they are making others happy by giving a little, and teach them about sharing and love through this project.
This game is part of the Western Christmas tradition and it is something your students will love. Write down the names of everyone in your class on small pieces of paper and put all of them in a bag. Your students will then take turns until each one of them has pulled out one name out of the name bag.
They should not tell anyone who they got. The students should then prepare a Christmas present for the person whose name was on the paper they got – they will be that person’s secret Santa. The presents need not be expensive. You can advise the class to make the presents instead of buying them, it could be a card or a drawing, etc.
All of the presents will be put in the corner of the classroom or under the tree if you have it. The students will open up the presents before winter break starts (or on Christmas if it’s not a holiday where you’re teaching). Once a student opens up the gift they got, they should try and guess who their secret Santa was.
This is another activity that teaches kids about the importance of sharing and giving to others and it is guaranteed they will they have a lot of fun pretending to be Santa, even if it is for one day only.
The holiday season, and especially New Year, is a time for new beginning, but also a time to learn new things and teach your pupils love, understanding, sharing, and teamwork. Hopefully, you will find a way to include these holiday activities into your curriculum and have fun with your students. Happy holidays!
About the Author
Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia with experience in working with young learners.
Fast finishers are those students who usually complete the given tasks before their classmates. Sometimes, it has to do with the fact the child is hyperactive, talented for the subject in question, or above average intelligence.
Every teacher knows that not all kids learn or finish the assignment they’ve been given at the same time. Some need more time, and then there are those who finish before everyone else. And as teachers, we have to always be ready to engage our fast finishers in other activities so that they wouldn’t sit idly waiting for the next task.
This type of activity is one of the most used among teachers as it requires nothing besides a pencil and a piece of paper. Your students can draw anything they like, or you can give them some ideas like: draw a picture of your family, draw your best friend, think about the day you were most happy and how it made you feel then illustrate it any way you want, etc. This way you help your students think creatively and also keep them busy while the rest of the class finishes.
Playing with Play-Doh
Play-doh is excellent sensory-perceptual material to explore, small children can make a variety of things and develop fine motor skills while older children can express their creativity. You can teach colours by giving your youngest students a set of little plastic items and they should match them with the colour of the Play-Doh.
Your students can simply write down their random thoughts, ideas, schedule activities for the day, write a short story or start writing a chapter of their own novels. This way, the students practice their writing and spelling skills, while developing creative thinking at the same time. You can also let them know that they can share their writing with you if they want once the class has finished.
Bringing several books into your classroom can prove to be very beneficial. These should be books that are relevant for your students and that you think will be interesting to them. Pupils who finish fast can choose which book they want to read and do it in silence while their classmates finish their assignment.
This will be extra useful for your visual learners: Learning a Language by Reading, Writing, and Watching
Finishing tomorrow’s homework will ensure that your student does the work necessary for next class and will also give them more free time to play around and enjoy their favourite leisure activities once school’s finished for the day. In addition, students perform better while they are in a learning environment, it is easier for them to focus on the task at hand, thus it will be easier to their homework.
If you have taught vocabulary that day, you can assign your fast finishers with the task of writing each new vocabulary item in their notebooks three times. This will help them remember the words more easily while practising their spelling at the same time.
If your classroom has a computer, your fast finishers can do a research on just about any topic that interests them and they want to know more about and write a short report. You can guide them by telling them to ask themselves 3-5 questions and answer them when they are writing. Children are inquisitive by nature, and it is certain they will enjoy this activity a lot. If they wish to share their report with you and/or their classmates, they can do so at the end of the class or the beginning of the next.
Cleaning Out their Desk
An activity that doesn’t last long but can be very helpful. If your students’ working space is nice and tidy, it is more likely their productivity will increase. They will know where their book or pen is without having to look for it, so they will be ready to tackle a new task as soon as you assign it.
Assign a value to each letter of the alphabet on your alphabet board (ex: A=0.01 B=0.02 F=0.06). Your fast finishers need to try and come up with a word that will amount to a total of $1. It’s fun and useful! They will be practising their vocabulary, learning new words and practice their math too. You can occasionally change the value of your letters to make it more fun for your students.
“I’m Done! Now What?” Jar
This clever Pinterest idea is something that is fairly easy to incorporate into your classroom, but so fun that it will make all of your students want to finish fast. All you will need is a plastic jar and pieces of paper that will serve as your task cards. Instead of asking “What now,?” your student(s) will go and take out a card from the jar. They cannot move on to another task unless they have finished the first one. The task cards can be purchased online on Teacher’s Notebook, or you and your students can come up with ideas of your own. And if you want your task cards to last longer, you can laminate them with plastic. This will ensure that the paper doesn’t tear and that the writing doesn’t fade away.
It is important to maintain a productive working atmosphere in your classroom and pupils who finish fast can oftentimes distract the rest of the class as they wiggle impatiently in their chairs waiting for you to assign a new task. That’s why it’s important to give them something extra to do to keep their minds busy and preserve the quiet order of your classroom. At the same time, your students will be practising different skills through different activities and have fun while they’re at it.
About the Author
Milica Madić, a freelance article/blog writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.
Have students that can’t sit still? Well, don’t make them! Here are a few activities to add into your lessons to get students up out of their chairs, moving around, and having fun while they learn.
Whether you want an engaging warmer or are looking for a new game to shake things up a bit, these classroom activities are sure to get your students up and active. Easily adaptable to suit your students (including age, ability, number of students and language point) these activities are also low-prep and easy to run. If your lesson plans are looking a bit stale, try out one of these top tips to get your students moving.
Prep: Slips of Paper
This is a great game that works really well with teenagers as well as young learners. Split the class into two teams and have them stand either side of the room with a line marked down the middle. Students write their language point (details below) on a slip of paper and scrunch it into a ball. Within a set time (thirty seconds usually works well) students need to throw their snowballs across into the other team’s side of the room. If any papers come towards them, they need to pick them up and throw them back. The team with the least papers on their side at the end of the game is the winner. The losing team members should choose one slip of paper each and ask the question to someone on the winning team.
The Language Point: With higher level learners, their language point could be to write out a question using a recently studied grammar point, such as ‘What are you going to do next weekend?‘ or ‘When are you going to get a haircut?’ Lower level learners could write simpler questions such as ‘What fruit do you like?‘ or ‘What juice do you like?‘ Students with a lower reading/writing ability could write one word for their language point, which they then read out to the class, such as ‘Red‘ or ‘Yellow‘. For very low learners, just a letter of the alphabet could be written for them to read out, or to read and think of a word, such as ‘B – banana‘ or ‘G – gorilla‘.
This game is great fun as it has a competitive element and gives a good opportunity for students to practice speaking skills as well as reading.
Need more active games for your students? Active Games for Young Learners
Prep: Yes/No flashcards
Prepare two cards, saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’. For younger learners, two different colours, perhaps with a happy/sad face, are also good. Place the cards at either end of the classroom and stand in the middle with the students. Ask a question with a yes/no answer, such as ‘Do you like apples?’ or ‘Is it sunny today?‘ Students run and stand next to either one of the cards. Students then touch the card and say their answer, such as ‘No, I don’t like apples.‘ or ‘Yes, it’s sunny today‘. This game can be played with a whole class, with fewer students, or even with a VIP student. Adapt it for higher level students by using higher level language points, or by getting them to ask the questions.
Want more for wrangling an active class? Check out 5 Fun ESL Games For Engaging Kinesthetic Learners
And for more tips and strategies, visit our Teaching Tips blog.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.
Test your logic by answering these questions, and have fun with your students! Don’t worry, we’ve provided you with all the answers below, but no peeking, try to come up with a logical solution by yourselves and activate that grey matter.
The brain teasers are divided into three categories to choose from – Easy, Medium, and Challenging. Use these as part of a game, as challenges on the board to consider during slow parts of your lesson, or just something to get students – and colleagues – thinking outside the box.
- When can a person move at the speed of a car?
- Which fish is the most valuable?
- What is the difference between a dog and a flea?
- Which sickness can never be found on land?
- Where can you find cities without buildings, forests without trees and seas without water?
- How can you cut down a branch where a bird is sitting, without disturbing the bird?
- How many eggs can you eat on an empty stomach?
- Some months have 30 and some 31 days. How many have 28 days?
- Jane’s mother has three daughters. One is named Helen and another Martha. What’s the name of the third sister?
- A pilot is watching a large herd of red and orange elephants from the airplane. Which herd of elephants is better seen from the plane?
- When they are in the car.
- A goldfish.
- A dog is a mammal, and a flea is an insect. (Or just brainstorm.)
- In an atlas.
- Wait until the bird flies off.
- Just one. Then your stomach is not empty anymore.
- All of them.
- Neither of them. There are no such things as red and orange elephants.
Want more for you classroom? 5 Ways to Make Learning Fun and Interesting
- There are two sons and two fathers going on a fishing trip, but there are only three of them. How is that?
- What appears two times in an instant, but only once in one moment?
- If it rains heavily at noon, can the sun shine brightly 12 hours later?
- If you have one match on you and you walk into a dark room in which there are: kerosene, a gas lamp, and a stove, which one will you’ll light up first?
- If there are 21 pieces of candy in a box and you take 5, how many pieces of candy will you have?
- There are 10 white and 10 black socks in the bag. How many socks do you need to pull out of the bag to have one pair of socks?
- The horse has a 5-meters-long rope tied around its neck. The hay stands at a distance of 10 meters, and the horse can still reach it. How?
- You are running a marathon, and at one point you pass the runner that was in third place. In what place are you now?
- There are 5 apples in the basket. If we have five children, is it possible that each of them gets one apple, and that one apple remains in the basket?
- A girl who has just passed her driving test is on a one-way street, going in the opposite direction, and yet she did not break any rules. How is that possible?
- The grandfather, the father, and the son.
- The letter T.
- No, because it will be night then.
- The match.
- You will have 5 pieces of candy.
- It doesn’t say they have to match.
- It doesn’t say that the other end of the rope is tied to anything.
- In third place.
- You give an apple to 4 of the children, and you give the fifth child the basket with the apple.
- She is walking.
Have active students? 5 Fun ESL Games For Engaging Kinesthetic Learners
- Anna and Hannah are twin sisters. One is always lying, and one always tells the truth. The teacher was not sure which one was which, and she asked one of them, “Does Anna lie?” And she replied “yes.” The teacher immediately knew with which girl she was talking. Do you?
- It takes 10 minutes to fry a steak – five minutes on each side. Two steaks can fit in the pan. What’s the least amount of time needed to get 3 steaks fried in the pan?
- You have 2 buckets – one of 3 litres and the other of 5 litres. Use them to measure exactly 4 litres of water.
- In one room there are three bulbs and in the other room three switches. How will we know which switch turns on which light bulb, if from the switch room we can’t see into the room with the bulbs, and we can only once move from one room to the other?
- At the end of a quiz show, the winner was given the opportunity to choose a box: two were empty and one full of money. There was a label on each box. The contestant was told that only one was true, and the other two were untrue.
Inscription on the first box: Money is not here.
Inscription on the second box: Money is not here.
Inscription on the third box: The money is in the second box.
Which box should the competitor choose to win extra money?
- With Hannah. If Anna lies and Hannah tells the truth, then Anna would answer ‘no’ and Hannah ‘yes’. So in any case, the teacher knew it was Hannah.
- 15 minutes. After five minutes, take one steak from the pan and put the third one in. After ten minutes, the first steak is over, and the other two should be fried on just one side.
- Fill the three-litre bucket and pour the water into the five-litre bucket which will then have room for two litres. Then refill the three-litre bucket and pour the water into the five-litre bucket again. In your 3 litre bucket, a litre of water will remain. Empty the five-litre bucket and pour the remaining water from the first bucket. Then fill the three-litre bucket again and pour it into the big bucket. Now you have exactly four litres of water. (A diagram would help to explain this one.)
- Turn on the first switch and leave it a little while. Then turn it off and turn on another switch. Go to the room with the bulbs.
The bulb that lights up – the switch we turned on.
2. A still warm bulb – the switch we turned on and turned off.
3. The bulb that isn’t lit – the third switch.
- The second box. Explanation: If the inscription on the first is true, then it is true in the second or the third. If the inscription on the third is true, then it is true in the first as well. If the inscription is true in the second box, then there are two false inscriptions left, so this is the solution.
For more teaching games, classroom activities, and teaching tips: Teaching Tips
About the Author
Milica Madić is a freelance article/blog writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.
Group activities are lots of fun, but for maximizing student talking time, you can’t go wrong with some pair-work in the classroom. Smaller groups (and pairs) give more students time to talk and keeps students engaged so that you can monitor more closely. Try out some of these activities for pair-work in your classroom.
A good game for children, (but not for awkward teenagers or adults!) back tracing is a game for students to practice the spelling of a new lexical set. Write up the vocabulary on the board and put students into pairs. One student ‘writes’ a word one letter at a time, using their finger, onto the back of their partner. Their partner should try to guess each letter as their tracer spells it, and write them down to spell out the word.
And more games: 6 Favourite ESL Games and Activities to Use in Your Classroom
Noughts and Crosses Q & A (Tic Tac Toe Q & A)
A popular two player game, this can easily be turned into a TEFL activity by getting students to ask a target question each time they make a move. Either you can write up target questions on the board and, when each student wants to make a move, they pick out a question to ask their partner, or you can make your own Noughts and Crosses board and write the questions directly onto the squares. Another idea is to make a coloured board with each coloured box corresponding to a different question on the board – this way you can make sure the students ask a different question each turn and use the board for different topics later.
And here are a few more simple games: Keep It Simple: No-Prep Games and Activities
This activity works well for higher level students who can read and write well. Either supply the students with a list of questions – or get them to choose their own – and then the students interview each other and write down the answers. Questions can be on any topic – choose something that fits into your lesson plan and gives students a chance to practice the language they’ve already studied. Important Note: In this type of activity, sneaky students sometimes try to simply ‘switch papers’ and answer the questions on paper without opening their mouths. Monitor carefully to check that all pair groups are asking the questions verbally, or have the students sit back-to-back so it’s easy for you to see who’s doing the writing! For a follow-up, you can ask the students to present their interview findings to the class to check that they’ve been listening carefully!
Do you want more articles like this? Visit our Teaching Tips blog.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a veteran English teacher and freelance writer whose teaching adventure has taken her to Japan, China and more.
In a learning English as a foreign or second language environment, games and other activities form a key part of your lessons. Any ESL teacher knows the value of using a few favourite ESL games and activities in the classroom. It is important to remember that students, whether they are young learners or adults, learn faster when they are ‘playing’ or having fun and when learning does not feel like a chore. (Get more information on the value of games in the classroom here.)
Furthermore, ESL games and activities can be used:
- at the start of your lesson as a warm up and to get students thinking in English,
- when you are teaching grammar or vocabulary and the games/activity serves as ‘fun’ practice,
- during the lesson when students need a break or when you are teaching something particularly tough, or
- at/near the end of class when there is some time left over ‘before the bell rings’.
In this article, we will look at some games you can use in your ESL class. Where necessary, I will indicate the level for which this activity or game is most appropriate as well as for which area/section it can be used, e.g. vocabulary, grammar, conversation practice, etc.
Game 1: Board Race
- Group game
- Appropriate for all ages
- Vocabulary, grammar
How to Play
Split the class into groups of 3-4 students. Each team gets a different coloured marker. However many teams there are, split the board up in that many columns. For vocabulary revision for a specific topic, groups must write as many words related to the topic in the form of a relay race. Teams get points for each correctly spelt word.
Game 2: Call My Bluff
- Appropriate for all ages
- Ice breaker, speaking skills
How to Play
In modelling how to play the game, the teacher writes three statements about themselves on the board, one of which should be true and two should be false. The students need to ask you some questions about each statement to guess which one is true. They win if they guess the correct one.
To make this more student-centered, have students play in a group. One person writes two lies and one truth on a piece of paper, and the other members question the student to guess which statement is true. At the end of the activity, allow the students to share what they learned about their fellow classmates.
Game 3: Word Jumble
- Group activity
- Appropriate for all ages and levels
- Spelling, word order, writing skills, grammar
How to Play
Some planning is needed before the class. The teacher needs to write (or type) a couple of sentences, and each sentence needs to be in a different colour. It works best with between three and five sentences per group. Cut up the sentences so that there are a handful of words and put these into cups, keeping the words per sentence separate. Divide the class into teams of 2-4 members. The groups need to put their sentences in the correct order, and the winning team is the one who correctly puts their sentences in order first.
What about adults? Adults Want to Have Fun, Too! – Games for Beginners
Game 4: Last Man Standing
- Appropriate for all levels and ages
- Vocabulary (could be adapted for grammar, too)
How to Play
To play, have a ball ready and get the entire class to stand in a circle. The teacher names a category or theme, such as things found in the house, food, colours, countries, etc. The teacher tosses the ball to a student. That student needs to say a word that is related to the theme and throw the ball to another student. As every student catches the ball, they need to say another word related to the category. No words can be repeated. If a student says a word that had already been said or cannot come up with a new word, they are out and need to sit and listen.
Game 5: Choose Your Victim
- Appropriate for all levels and ages
How to Play
This is a good activity to make a question and answer grammar practice session more active. Have all the students stand in a circle. They all need to practice a grammar point by asking and answering questions; for example, they have to ask questions with a past verb form, so they practice the past simple tense. The first student can ask “Did you eat ice cream on the weekend?” and need to throw the ball to another student who needs to answer the question correctly in order to stay in the game. This student then earned the right to ask a question, throw the ball to another student who must answer correctly to ask a question. And so the game continues. If you have a large class, students can play in groups of 4 or 6, and you can walk around and monitor.
Game 6: Roll the Dice
- Appropriate for elementary to advanced levels
- Perfect for review, grammar, vocabulary
How to Play
Divide the class into groups and each one gets a dice to play with. Write numbers one to 6 on the board, and each number needs to correspond to an activity. This can be to ask your group members how to spell a word, say a sentence in the past tense or ask a question in the present perfect simple tense, read a page from the book they have been reading the term, practice a phonic or two, sing the song the class learned, etc. Incorporate points and the team with the most points wins.
This article discussed six easy and favourite ESL games and activities that any teacher can use in their classroom. There are, of course, many, many, many more games and activities out there, and most teachers would tell you that they know at least a hundred games and varieties to incorporate at the start, middle or end of their lesson.
What are some of your favourite ESL games and activities to use in the classroom? Which ones do your students like best?
Want more great articles like this? Check out our Teaching Tips.
About the Author
Denine Walters is currently a freelance writer, editor/proofreader and ESL teacher. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world and, before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In her free time, she likes to read, do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes, and travel. For her educational background, she has an MA in Politics, with a dissertation written on post-conflict peacebuilding, a BA Journalism degree, a TEFL and CELTA certificate, and also a few certificates in various other short courses.
In 2017, Shane English School Taiwan (SEST) cooperated with the Prudence Foundation to promote Cha-Ching. Inspired by the sound of a cash register opening, Cha-Ching is designed to teach young people how to be smart with money. Cha-Ching’s class includes six cartoon characters who help children learn about the fundamental money management concepts of Earn, Save, Spend, and Donate.
In the class, students can learn the basic concept of how to manage their own money through board games, cartoons and role play. We are happy to announce that we are going to open English Cha-Ching classes in our HQ-owned schools. The WenHua branch and Roosevelt branch in will offer the classes in August and September. The classes are totally free, and we hope many students to come to join us to roll out the new program.
On 21st July, there was a press conference held by Prudence Foundation, Cha-Ching’s class was officially launched. Here are some highlights of that day (link in Chinese).
Or click here to see Cha-Ching’s YouTube channel.
It’s always a good idea to have a few extra class activities prepared, but it’s not always realistic. There are times when students finish planned activities too quickly and other times when you may unexpectedly take over for another teacher. But have no fear! We’ve got you covered with these three ‘no prep’ activities for your teaching emergencies.
Whether you’re running low on lesson planning time or are covering a class with no handover notes, there are bound to be times in your teaching career when you’re in need of a ‘no prep’ activity, or at least something where the only thing you need is a whiteboard and marker. It’s great to have a few of these games in your repertoire, not just for when you run out of planning time, but also to use as fillers when students finish your planned material too quickly. Take a look at our easy-to-run activities that won’t have you spending hours at the photocopier or cutting up bits of paper for a complicated game.
The Listing Game (Shopping Game)
Not even a whiteboard is required for this one unless you want to write up the target sentence to guide lower level students. The idea is simple – create a list, with each student adding one item to the list, to be recalled from memory. The usual target sentence is I went to the shops and I bought… Perhaps the first student will say a banana. So the next student will say a banana and a rabbit. The next student will say a banana, a rabbit and a mobile phone. The list continues until a student can no longer recall the list correctly. You can make it simpler by having each student name a word beginning with a letter of the alphabet in sequence, to make it easier to remember. Example: an apple, a brooch, a cat, a pan… The target sentence can be changed depending the on level of students and topics recently studied. Examples: The last time I went on holiday, into my suitcase I packed… For my next birthday, I’d like… I have a job in the local shop, and today I sold…
Clap / Stamp Game
This game can be applied to any language point, and all it requires is for your students to either clap their hands or stamp their feet. For example, you could practice CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and ask students to clap/stamp depending on which medial vowel they hear. You could teach countable/uncountable nouns, verbs in different tenses… pretty much any topic can be worked into this game. Just explain to the students to listen and then either clap or stamp depending on what they hear. You can do it as a review, or make it into a game so that the last one to react is ‘out’. Higher-lever students could even be the game master and say the words.
A great game with younger kids, all you need is your imagination. Explain the rules of the game (TPR works well) just jump right in and start playing. If the students like it, let one of them be the teacher and lead the game. It’s also a great one to review imperatives. Most teachers are familiar with the game, but it’s easy enough to learn if not. The teacher will say something (usually an imperative) like “Simon Says touch your toes” or “Simon says clap your hands”, to which the students react by completing the action. If the teacher says the phrases without the ‘Simon Says’ at the beginning, for example, just “touch your toes”, then the students should do the action. A student is out if they do the action when they aren’t supposed to.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a long-time ESL/EFL teacher and freelance writer.
When the weather warms up and the sun comes out, everyone wants to get outside. Here are some fun outdoor activities to supplement an EFL summer program and have some fun. The students may learn a little something, too.
Summer is here! And that means it’s time to ditch the classroom and take your students outside for some fun in the sun. Changing up the learning environment is a great way to re-engage learners and let students practice their knowledge in a new environment.
Here are two of my favourite summer camp outdoor activities that with a little EFL twist that will have your kids practising their English skills without even realising it.
1. Scavenger Hunts
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt?
Not only are they fun to put together, but your students will love them and have so much fun learning at the same time.
For beginners, base the hunt around vocabulary they know. For example, if you have been learning about plants and animals create a hunt around that topic and get your kids out of the classroom and exploring the great outdoors. It’s a great way to reinforce the vocabulary and stimulate kinesthetic students.
For advanced students, you can focus your hunt around certain parts of speech. For example, instead of having students search for nouns you can switch things up by focusing on adjectives. Students will then have to find objects that can be described “beautiful”; “short”; “young” etc.
And to keep your kids entertained, you can add a dose of technology. Ask your students to take photos or selfies with the objects they find rather than bringing them back to class.
Ever tried geocaching? It’s a game people play all over the world that involves finding a container of hidden items by following GPS coordinates.
If you have been teaching your students about direction, this geocache inspired game will turn them into intrepid explorers in no time.
Instead of using coordinates, give your students a set of written instructions that will lead them to a hidden prize.
And to amp up the competition factor, you can introduce an element of orienteering into your activity. Divide your students up into groups and give each group a set of unique directions.
Each team will need to race against the clock to find the points on their map in a particular order. To prove that they went to the right stop at the right time, leave different stamps at each geo-location point.
Whoever gets back to the finish line first with all the correct stamps wins!
Soak up the sun and fun at English Camp
Whether you try these activities at a summer English camp or decide to mix up your usual classroom routine, your lesson plans are bound to make the grade.
What are some of your favourite summer-themed EFL activities? Let us know on Twitter!
Want more fun activity and professional development? Visit our Teaching Tips blog.
About the Author
Lauren Melnick is a South African travel blogger and ESL teacher currently living in Ubon, Thailand. When she isn’t making lesson plans and watching nursery rhymes on YouTube, you can find her eating up a storm, taking selfies with dinosaurs, and planning her next adventure.