You ost likely just found the best site for learning how to use ESL games and activities in your classroom.

Not only are these activities fun, but they are also educational and efficient. Most of them also require very little to no prep.

Here I will show you why ESLinsider is likely the best site you will find for learning activities or how to teach English (especially to kids) online. 

Example 1

These is the kind of instructions you will find on many sites.

Line up (warm up or icebreaker).

Come up with three questions (perhaps two basic questions and one more interesting question). Write your questions on the board. Have your students form two lines facing each other. Say "go" and have the students begin asking the person opposite them the questions. After some time or when the first student has asked the three questions say "switch". One line stays still while the other moves down one. Continue.

Example 2

Line up (warm up or icebreaker).

  1. Come up with three questions (perhaps two basic questions and one more interesting question)
  2. Write your questions on the board
  3. Have your students form two lines facing each other
  4. Say "go" and have the students begin asking the person opposite them the questions
  5. After some time or when the first student has asked the three questions say "switch"
  6. One line stays still while the other moves down one
  7. Continue

Example 3...

Warm-up Activities & Icebreakers

These work well for warming up your class or icebreakers can be used on the first day.

1. Line up 

This icebreaker works well with children and adults.

 
  1. Come up with three questions (perhaps two basic questions and one more interesting question)
  2. Write your questions on the board
  3. Have your students form two lines facing each other
  4. Say "go" and have the students begin asking the person opposite them the questions
  5. After some time or when the first student has asked the three questions say "switch"
  6. One line stays still while the other moves down one
  7. Continue

The basic questions used here are:

  • What's your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • Who would you most like to eat dinner with?

So which was better? Example 1, 2, or 3?

If you are like most of us then you learn better with visuals. And if you upgrade to Primo then all of the games and activities below will include easy to read instructions and short simple how-to videos all organized into categories and purpose.

Also:

  • No ads in the videos (or any where)
  • Higher quality videos
  • Bonus ebooks
  • Solutions to common classroom problems

Upgrade.

There are a few more samples below. 

2. W.C.

This warm-up activity works well with children. In my years teaching abroad it is probably the activity I used the most for warm up. Who doesn't like tossing a ball around?

  • Get a ball or a soft die
  • Have your students stand
  • Pass the ball to a student and give them a letter ("T")
  • Upgrade

3. C.G.

You can watch this in the above video beginning at 00:12. This can work well as an icebreaker or as a warm up activity. It tends to work well with intermediate to higher level students. Come up with a list of different ways of grouping people together. You can really come up with some odd things that most people never think about. It's interesting!

Have your class stand and gather around an open area on the floor. Here are some ideas for grouping your students together:

  • clasp your hands together
  • cross your arms
  • what leg do you put in first when putting your pants on
  • Upgrade

4. T. S.

TS is one of the more popular ESL games for kids (kindergarten and early elementary).

It can be used for warm-up, to teach body parts, or actions like walk, stand, sit, open your book, etc. You need to create a list of commands or actions and then:

  1. Have your students stand up
  2. Say "Teacher says _____ (command)" or "_____ (command)"
  3. Upgrade

Vocabulary Games & Activities

These games and activities work well when teaching vocabulary and phrases.

5. Sprite

This is a writing activity for teaching vocabulary to children

 

This is a fun and efficient activity that can be used when teaching and practicing vocabulary words. Students get the chance to practice the four skills; writing, reading, listening and speaking.

To do this activity:

  • Divide your class into two or more teams depending on the size of the class
  • Say a vocabulary word from your lesson
  • One student from each team races up to the board to write it
  • After they write it they say it
  • The first student to say it and write it correctly gets a point for their team
  • The other students seated can help them spell it correctly
  • Make sure that they correct any mistakes before sitting down

You could also have them draw a picture of the word as well as write it.

6. P.M.

This is a very efficient vocabulary activity where students get to also practice, speaking, writing, and listening. This activity works well with beginners-advanced students and it can work well with large classes as well.

  • Divide your class into two teams and into two lines standing facing the board
  • Hand a marker to each student at the front of the line
  • Say a vocab word from your lesson and say "Go"
  • Upgrade

7. CH

CH is popular and it can work with most levels of students. It is a miming activity. Action words and phrases work best.

  • Pick a word or phrase, for example, "play basketball"
  • Pretend to play basketball without speaking
  • Upgrade

ESL Activities for Teaching Sentences & Q&A

These games and activities work well when you are teaching sentences and Q&A.

8. PSS

This is a simple, fun and an efficient tool for doing some repetition to practice proper pronunciation and speaking in sentences. It requires no prep. It works well with children who are at the beginner-intermediate level.

  • Divide your class into two teams.
  • Write on the board +or-1/+or-5/+or-10
  • Use a Q&A from your lesson/textbook, like, "Who is heHe is a firefighter."
  • Upgrade
ESL students doing an activity

9. MS

This activity for forming and speaking in sentences works well with groups and large classes. It works with beginners-advanced students. It does take some time to prepare, but you will find that it's especially engaging.

  • Take a bunch of A4 paper and cut it up into fourths or eighths
  • You'll need a set for each group in your class. Each group should be no more than five people.
  • Use a basic sentence from your lesson with different possibilities. For example, "She/He _____ (hobby) on Fridays." The hobby could be like "plays basketball, plays the piano, rides a bike, etc.". You'll need to write only one word from each sentence on a piece of paper. So the basic sentence structure plus the different hobbies.
  • Upgrade

10. WS 

This is a popular and simple activity that can be used to practice sentences.

You can watch it in the video above at 01:24.

To do this:

  • Divide your class into two different teams. It's easier if they form lines.
  • Take a sentence from your lesson
  • Have your students stand
  • Upgrade

Misc. Games & Activities

These are odds and ends activities. They include writing, spelling, and other free time filler activities.

11. Comics 

I found this writing activity to work well with adolescents and intermediates+ as they get to write it as they see it. Writing comics from scratch is another option, but I found that it didn't work well with all students. This one is more simple.

Passive Activities

Passive activities are often individualized activities where the student gets to mostly work by him/herself.

12. Essay Writing

They're also good for the teacher because they tend to bring quiet time to the classroom! It is a writing and drawing activity.

There are a few ways that you can do this activity. The first and simplest way is to create a list of questions and have your students answer them.

I like to create a piece of paper with a space on top to draw and lines below where they can write. Here are some example questions. You can adjust these to suit their level or age.

Phonics Activities

These activities work well for when you are teaching phonics.

13. Tongue twisters

Learn how to teach phonics with "Tongue Twisters".

 

Tongue twisters are an excellent way for language learners to practice pronunciation and phonics.

Many student books for teaching phonics will have tongue twisters already in them. However, they can be easy to make on your own.

  • Create 3 different tongue twisters using whatever phonics you are teaching them on that day.
  • Write them on the board.

Here's an example. Let's say that we are teaching them the sound "SL". Create a tongue twister using those letters like, "Slade is sliding slowly on the slippery slope." Create two or so more different tongue twisters using different phonemes.

  • After you have written them on the board, select a student.
  • Say a phoneme or sound (not the letters).
  • Have the student circle the words that contain those letters.
  • Continue

Upgrade your teaching...

  • No ads in the videos or any where 
  • Higher quality videos
  • Bonus ebooks
  • Forums
  • Solutions to common classroom problems

I gave all of these videos away for free for almost ten years. Help support ESLinsider.

Upgrade.