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ESOL classroom activities: Tricks of the trade

Tried and tested ESOL classroom activitiesOur members have supplied their most tried and trusted ESOL classroom activities and other essential information for ESOL teachers - we hope you find it a useful resource. If you have any 'tricks of the trade' up your sleeve which you would like to share, please drop us an email at info@natecla.org.uk. We would love to receive your contributions!

  • Survey - Make a grid template - rows for the criteria, student A, B , C across the top. Students aim to ask up to 8 other students depending on task and level of difficulty. Can be applied to any situation where students need to find out about each other- e.g. attitudes to money, have you ever? Feedback - verbal and results can then be written.
  • Storyboard - capture the story of a short video by pressing ‘pause’ (on full screen) and using the print-screen key at the top of the keyboard. Drop the pictures into a blank PowerPoint presentation. Print out as 3 slides per page and you’ll get lines for students to write a description next to each picture.
  • Information gap - Each student interviews another student in the class. They have to ask the student questions and write down the answer. Do this at the beginning of the year and again at the end to show the students how much they have improved. 
  • Free crossword and wordsearch makersGames - Crosswords, word searches, hangman (don’t used a hanging man). Puzzlemaker is a useful crossword and wordsearch generator tool or check out NATECLA's useful websites page to see a more extensive list of game-related websites. 
  • A trip - Take students to the local bus station and train station to practise speaking and listening in a real word situation
  • Exit notes - get students to write what they have learnt from the lesson
  • Essential information – get to grips with some of the following ESOL-related terminology:
  • Useful websites - Refer to our separate page on useful websites for ESOL teachers
  • Get in line classroom activityGet in line - Useful warmer, to break up the lesson, to encourage participation. 
    • Line up in order of your birthdays
    • Stand in a position to represent your opinion on something - left/right/middle
    • Word order - each student takes a card with a part of speech and gets in line to make a sentence.
    • Have cards with colours/symbols/number s- as students come in they take one. Groups are formed with students with the same colour/symbol or number. 
  • Powerpoint - Use PowerPoint - it lays out images/text into ready-made cards which are easy to cut out.
  • Templates and reference lists -  Keep templates for surveys, questionnaires. Keep flashcards and handouts of lists of verbs, plurals, spelling – things that you frequently need.