10 Easy Activities for ESL Students

Every ESL teacher needs a handy list of activities for ESL students that can be done quickly, with little preparation. Why?

It happens to the best of us. You fly through all of the materials that you had planned for your lesson, look up at the clock and realize you have 5 minutes left to the lesson. The kids are looking at you expectantly. If you flounder here, you’re going to lose control.

It’s time to use one of the ESL activities listed below. I compiled this list because I understand that horrible feeling of not knowing what you are going to do with a group of kids. These quick and easy ESL activities have saved my butt on many occasions.

10 Quick and Easy Activities for ESL Students

1. Do a favorite song and/or dance. My kids are always up for another round of Wheels on the Bus or Little Bunny Foo Foo.

2. Play “Listen Carefully”. This is just a silly thing that I do sometimes. I’ll say a sentence and the kids have to say whether it’s correct or not. It’s most fun to say really outrageous things like “Andrew is wearing a dress.” or “I am 100 years old.” Make sure that the kids tell you what the correct sentence should be.

3. Line up and ask a question. Have the kids line up at the door, but before they can leave, everyone has to answer a question. Recently, I’ve been having them tell me opposites. I’ll say “hot” and they have to say “cold”.

4. Play the Categories Game. Start with a category and then have kids go around in a circle saying things that belong in that category. Some examples: Food, fruit, animals, colors, etc.

5. Prepositions practice. Instruct the kids to stand “next to” the window or “behind” the teacher. If you’re really daring, you can lie down on the floor and have them jump “over” you or walk “on” you.

6. What are you wearing? Have each of the kids tell you what they are wearing. Or ask what another child is wearing.

7. Play the Colors Game. Say a color and have the kids run to touch something that color. If you want to get silly, say something like “mauve” at the end.

8. Conversation practice. Have each student ask another student a question.

9. Count to 100. Have everyone sit in a circle and count to 100 with each kid in the circle saying the next number.

10. Play I Spy.

Hopefully, you’ll find these activities for ESL students helpful. I know that I have.

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