The best 7 ESL Plans for English Lessons and Classes

by Feb 2, 2019English and Study Tips

Shafayet Ali Mithun

Community Artist and Mentor (Bangladesh)

  • Leadership Strengths (Level 25)
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Sometimes Its better to keep silent than to tell others what you feel, Because it hurts badly when you come to know that, they can hear you But can not understand!

Shafayet Ali

The best 7 ESL (English as a Second Language) Plans for English Lessons and Classes

Here are 7 great ESL team work English class activities and lesson plans that you can use in a variety of ways to get your ESL students talking.

1. Investigative Journalist
Investigative – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Investigative journalist is a classic pair work activity for a reason: it works!

It can be used in a variety of scenarios and tailored according to specific grammar or vocabulary points that you’ve been reviewing in class.

The basis of investigative journalist is for students to interview one another in pairs and present their findings. It can be used for groups at all skill levels from beginning to advanced, as long as you tailor it to their levels.

Beginners may do a simple version, asking their partners about their family structure, favourite colours and foods, pets and hobbies. Intermediate students could use investigative journalist to practice past tense structures by asking about their interlocutor’s childhood. Advanced students might benefit from a murder mystery version of the game, where each student is assigned a character to play and the game concludes with the “murderer” being sussed out as a result of the questions.

A great way to prepare students for this versatile activity, no matter their level, is with authentic videos of English conversations. Tools like FluentU offer fun, real-world English videos they can watch either once you’ve paired them up, or ahead of class for homework.

The FluentU videos are all organised by level and come with interactive captions, flashcards and exercises to help students pick up new words as they watch. Through these supercharged English dialogues, news reports, interviews, movie clips and more, they’ll get comfortable with the types of basic English conversations investigative journalist requires.

Have fun with this game, and remember: if you give your students the tools to succeed, they’ll surprise you!

2. Debate
Debate – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Debate is another classic that can incorporate pair or group work, depending on the size of your class. Create groups and assign each group or pair a side of an argument. Use pair work time to allow students to develop their argument and conclude with a class-wide debate.

Debate is made even more interesting when you present students with authentic materials to use as support for their claims.

3. What’s Your Secret?
What is your secret – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

What’s your secret? is a pair work activity that truly involves the whole class. In this game, which is a play on investigative journalist, each student writes a secret down on a piece of paper, things like: “I play the clarinet.” or “I have a twin.” The papers are placed in a hat and each student draws one: that’s where the game begins.

What’s your secret? can either be played by allowing students to mill about the classroom freely or by setting up a speed dating scenario, where each pair has 1 minute to speak before rotating. Students may ask one another yes/no questions—they may not ask directly if what’s on the piece of paper is true about them or not.

Students then must guess to whom the secret they drew belongs.




4. It’s Your Turn: Teach a Class!
Teach a English Class – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Teach a class! is a fun activity for advanced ESL students. In this activity, you assign each pair a grammar, vocab or culture point that they’ll have to teach to the class. The pair works together to prepare activities and lesson plans and teaches the point to the class.

Unlike many of these other activities, the conclusion portion of this activity is built right in: when the pair teaches the class, the teacher should play the role of the student, but you may evaluate the lesson at the end and feel free to correct any mistakes the “teachers” make!

5. Following Directions
Following Directions English Class Games – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Following directions is an interesting game that offers a change from classroom routine.

In this game, each student in the pair draws a picture, keeping their paper shielded from the eyes of their partner. Ideally, pictures should be fairly geometric. Once the picture is complete, they explain to their partner, using words only, how to replicate the image.

For example, if a student has drawn the stereotypical square house with a triangle roof, he might say: “Draw a square in the middle of the paper that’s about a third of the size of the paper. Draw an equilateral triangle on top of the square, using the top side of the square as the bottom side of the triangle.”

The goal of this game is for each partner to replicate the other’s drawing going by these spoken directions.

6. Games! Yes, No
Yes or No English Class Games – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Many pair work activities can feel like games, but sometimes it’s fun to introduce some real games into the mix.

Yes, no is a game where the only two words that students aren’t allowed to say are yes and no. Pair students off and play. When a student loses, he or she is out and the winning partner is paired with another winning partner. In this way, you can create a tournament of yes, no.

Other versions of the game also forbid “maybe” and “I.” Consider these versions when the game is lasting too long or students need an extra challenge.

7. Games! Guess Who
Guess who English Class Games – speaking activities for ESL English classes and lessons

Guess who is a version of 20 questions that focuses entirely on people.

Students draw the name of a famous person out of a hat (you’ll need to prepare these slips in advance!) and their partner tries to guess who’s on the paper by asking a series of yes/no questions.

Like yes, no, guess who can be turned into a tournament-style game.

Concluding a Pair Work Activity

Remember: a pair work activity isn’t a lesson in and of itself.

There should be a brief introduction, letting students know what you expect them to do during the activity.

There should especially be a conclusion. Be sure to budget it into your class time or the pair work activity will be useless.

During your conclusion, you should gather the information gleaned during the activity and go through it as a group. This will allow you to correct errors and it’ll also allow students to learn from their peers.

Many pair work activities also benefit from being followed up by an individual activity such as a written response, worksheet for homework or short oral presentation to the group presenting the student’s findings.

Once you’ve mastered the art of pair work, your students will be speaking up (and correctly!) before you know it!

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