Ideas for activities and games in the English language classroom
10 Tips for Games in the ESL Classroom
From the creator of the world’s best-selling ESL board game—ten practical ideas on using games when teaching English
On Using Games in the ESL Classroom
Matt Errey looks at competitive versus co-operative games, and healthy versus unhealthy competition
PDF Activity Sheets
- Common Time Expressions (Activity) (intermediate)
Common Time Expressions (Teacher)
Description: How many expressions with the word ‘time’ do you use on a regular basis? Probably a lot more than you're aware of, as for many they are almost second nature. And whilst these expressions may seem quite straightforward and user-friendly to us, for your average English learner they can be extremely confusing! This resource enables students to practise some of the more commonly-used Time Expressions through a variety of written and communicative activities.
- Past Simple vs Present Perfect (Activity) (intermediate)
Past Simple vs Present Perfect (Teacher)
Description: Just when students think they've got the Past Simple down to a tee, along comes the perplexing Present Perfect! And learning how to use this troublesome tense is just the beginning, as knowing when to use it instead of the trusty Past Simple can be equally, if not more, confusing! The activities in this resource help students get to grips with the usage of these two tenses in a practical and enjoyable manner.
- Present Simple vs Present Continuous (Activity) (intermediate)
Present Simple vs Present Continuous (Teacher)
Description: The Present Simple and Present Continuous are usually the first two tenses students are introduced to when tackling the English language. And whilst getting to grips with their differing structures is a commendable feat in itself, perhaps even more puzzling is knowing exactly when to use each one. The activities in this resource allow students to test their logic and practise these two tenses alongside each other, both alone and with a partner.
- Future Tenses (Activity) (intermediate)
Future Tenses (Teacher)
Description: When talking about the future in English, things can be anything but rosy for many students who find themselves faced with the tricky dilemma of knowing just which tense to use. As predictions, plans, scheduled events and intentions all seem to be expressed in their own respective ways, mastering the future is often more easily said than done. The written and communicative exercises in this resource help students to practise applying the correct future tense to various situations in a practical and enjoyable manner.
- Gerunds vs Infinitives (Activity) (intermediate)
Gerunds vs Infinitives (Teacher)
Description: When to use ‘to’ or ‘-ing’? It’s not always easy to know, as each of these mystifying grammar points seems to have its own array of specific uses. This resource helps students to understand which situations require Gerunds instead of Infinitives, and vice versa, allowing them to test their logic and practise the two alongside one another through a series of written and communicative exercises.
- Verbs of Obligation (Activity) (intermediate)
Verbs of Obligation (Teacher)
Description: Must, Should, or Have to? Which one should you use? When studied individually these three obligation verbs are generally not too tough to get to grips with. Throw the trio together however, and things aren’t quite so simple, as due to their similarities, they can quite easily be confused. This engaging and varied resource enables students to practise using Verbs of Obligation, both individually and with a partner.
- First Conditional vs Second Conditional (Activity) (intermediate)
First Conditional vs Second Conditional (Teacher)
Description: First or Second Conditional? Whilst these two essential conditionals may be relatively easy to master when practised individually, being able to identify whether a situation is real or unreal and then use the correct one accordingly can be anything but! The exercises in this resource allow students to practice these commonly-confused conditionals together in a fun and varied manner.
- Present Perfect Simple vs Continuous (Activity) (intermediate)
Present Perfect Simple vs Continuous (Teacher)
Description: As if the Present Perfect weren’t hard enough to get to grips with! Put it next to its perplexing perfect counterpart, the Present Perfect Continuous and things become even more baffling. Once students have mastered these two tricky tenses and their differing structures, they are then faced with the dilemma of knowing just when to use one instead of the other. The written and communicative exercises in this resource help students to identify which situations each tense is suited to, then practise using them alongside each other.
- Defining Relative Clauses (Activity) (intermediate)
Defining Relative Clauses (Teacher)
Description: Though these vital structures are something learners usually come across relatively early on in their relationship with the English Language, knowing which relative pronoun to use, and how to use them correctly can be anything but elementary! The written and communicative activities in this resource allow students to practice Defining Relative Clauses in a practical and enjoyable manner.
- Third Conditional (Activity) (intermediate)
Third Conditional (Teacher)
Description: Just when students have got the First and Second Conditional under their belts, along comes the pesky Third! Though perhaps not as commonly used as the other two, the Third Conditional certainly has its uses, so it’s vital that students are familiar with its structure. This resource enables students to practise this tricky grammar point in a fun and varied way, through a series of individual and pair-work activities.
- Passive Voice (Activity) (intermediate)
Passive Voice (Teacher)
Description: Though, for most of us, the Passive Voice is something that we use quite naturally and unconsciously, for learners of the English language being able to recognise and utilise this nifty voice correctly can be a pretty tall order. Nevertheless, the Passive Voice definitely serves a purpose, so it’s essential that students get to grips with it. This resource allows students to practise this vital grammar point practically and enjoyably, both individually and with a partner.
- Narrative Tenses (Activity) (intermediate)
Narrative Tenses (Teacher)
Description: Whilst many would agree that knowing how to form the four Narrative Tenses in English is a pretty mean feat in itself, knowing how to use them all alongside one another, can be equally perplexing. This activity sheet helps students understand exactly when each of these vital tenses is used, offering thorough and varied practice through an array of written and spoken exercises.
- Wishes and Regrets (Activity) (intermediate)
Wishes and Regrets (Teacher)
Description: Let’s face it, we’ve all got things in the past and present we regret or wish were different, and I’m sure our students are no exception. If only they could express themselves! For many, getting to grips with the various wish structures can be extremely tricky and confusing. The written and communicative exercises in this activity help students to practise expressing Wishes and Regrets in a varied and enjoyable way.
- Used To (do) (Activity) (intermediate)
Used To (do) (Teacher)
Description: Though ‘Used To (do)’ may not be the most challenging grammar point to master when it comes to acquainting oneself with the English language, it is, nevertheless, an extremely useful one, and one which students certainly need to be clear about, before coming face to face with the dreaded ‘Be/Get Used To’, later on. The written and spoken activities in this resource enable students to find their feet with this essential grammar point in a fun and practical manner.
- Definite, Indefinite, or No Article? (Activity) (intermediate)
Definite, Indefinite, or No Article? (Teacher)
Description: Articles are, quite arguably, one of the trickier aspects of the English language for many students to master, as in some languages they do not actually exist, and even if they do, their usage is not always the same. Through the written and communicative exercises in this activity, students can practise these somewhat perplexing parts of speech in a varied and enjoyable manner.
- Expressing Ability (Activity) (intermediate)
Expressing Ability (Teacher)
Description: Though talking about Ability in the present is something that most students get to grips with early on in their acquaintance with English, when it comes to the future, past, and other tenses things aren’t quite as straighforward. Through the written and communicative activities in this resource, students can practise this at times baffling concept in a fun and varied manner.
- Adjective or Adverb? (Activity) (intermediate)
Adjective or Adverb? (Teacher)
Description: When it comes to spicing up our descriptions of things in English, Adjectives and Adverbs play a starring role. Unfortunately, (but quite understandably) these two vital parts of speech are easily confused by many learners. The activities in this resource help students to understand when and how they are used, allowing them to test their logic in several different ways, both alone and with a partner.
- Comparatives vs Superlatives (Activity) (intermediate)
Comparatives vs Superlatives (Teacher)
Description: Whilst Comparatives and Superlatives may not be the trickiest aspect of the English language to master, they can still prove rather perplexing at times, especially when practised together! The activities in this resource allow students to test their logic and practise these two types of adjectives at once, both alone and with a partner.
- Too, Too Much, Too Many, Enough (Activity) (intermediate)
Too, Too Much, Too Many, Enough (Teacher)
Description: Let’s face it, we all like to complain. And our students are certainly no exception! If they’re going to do so in English however, it’s our job as their teachers to make sure they do so properly! Which is why a firm understanding of ‘Too’, ‘Too Much’, ‘Too Many’, ‘Enough’ and their own respective uses is so vital. The written and spoken activities in this resource help students to practise these essential expressions then master the art of complaining in a fun and practical way.
Ideas for activities that you can adapt and use at different levels:
Various ESL Activities (elementary to advanced)
Activities by Level
These ideas and activities are mainly appropriate for the following levels:
- Authentic Cooking Experience
Imperatives used for instructions; vocabulary for food and cooking; adverbs of sequence
- Animal Adventures
- Beat the Teacher
Objective: lesson revision
- Typical Day
- Noun Game
- Vocabulary Cards
- When You Turn Off the Light
Practises: Vocabulary for giving directions
- Songs for All
- Hello Bingo!
- Secret Code
Practises: Speaking, Socialising
- Verbs and Tenses
Practises: Sentence building, Syntax
- What am I Wearing?
- Driverless Cars Coming Soon
Practises: Reading, Speaking
- Consonant Or Vowel
- Delivering a Persuasive Speech
Practises: Speaking Skills and Body Language
- Alternative Assessment
- Book Cover
Practises: Reading, Expression
- Controversial Statements
Practises: Questions (and Patience!)
- Reading Comprehension
Practises: Reading Comprehension
- Saint Valentine's Day
Practises: Listening, Speaking, Writing
Activities which may be a success in a Californian encounter group are unlikely to work in the majority of ESL/EFL contexts. Nick Gadd