Sunday, December 4, 2011

Activity 50- The Dictionary Game

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This is an interesting suggestion to work with vocabulary in more advanced groups.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Skills: writing, listening, speaking, reading
Material needed: English dictionaries

Divide class into different teams and give each team a dictionary. Ask the groups to find 2 different words in the dictionary and write a correct definition for them (students can copy the definition from the dictionary or adapt it). Then ask them to come up with 2 more fake definitions for the same word. Each team should then read the word and the 3 definitions (in no particular order) while the other teams should vote for the definition they think is the correct one. Every time a team guesses the correct definition, they get a point. In the end, the group with more points is the champion. As a follow-up, teacher can ask students to make up contextualized sentences using the learned words.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Activity 49- Balloon Storytelling

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Here is a fun activity that should appeal to children and teenagers. The principle behind it is very similar to a previously posted activity (Colored Balloons) but it is a lot more challenging. Great warmer to start your class, specially if the students are learning the simple past.

Level: basic or upper
Skill: speaking
Material needed: a balloon

Tell students that they have to keep a balloon in the air at all times. The teacher begins telling the story by throwing a balloon in the air. Students have to say a word/phrase/sentence as they knock the balloon upwards. If they cannot think of a word to say, they must say 'er''urn' etc. If they let the balloon touch the floor or a piece of furniture, they are out. A student can start a new story every time someones gets eliminated.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Activity 48- Write the News

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Writing can definitely be fun if the teacher varies the techniques and get students to work on different and creative tasks. Here is a nice idea to get your students writing with no pain!

 Level: Intermediate or upper
Skill: Writing
Material needed: an English-spoken magazine and copies of the article to be used
Bring to class a magazine that would appeal to the audience you have and write on the board the headline from an article appropriate for their age and general interests. Tell them that they are going to write a short magazine article based on the headline displayed on the board. Students can work individually or in groups and they can share their stories after they are done. As a follow up, give students a copy of the original article, read it with them and discuss how similar their versions were to the original piece as far as content and vocabulary is concerned.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Activity 47- Fly Swatters

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Here is a nice strategy that can be adapted to any lesson, group or level! It is a dynamic warmer to review vocabulary!

Level: any
Skill: Listening
Material needed : two fly swatters and vocabulary slips (words can be written on the board!)


Divide class into two different groups and give each group a flyswatter. Display all vocabulary slips on the board (or write them).Call out a definition (explaining the word or giving out synonyms) and the first student to "swat" the correct word gets a point for the group. in the end, the group with more points is the winner!

Source: adapted from David Malatesta- Activities for the ESL Classroom

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Activity 46- Tiny Bubbles in the Air

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Great outdoors activity aqnd specially designed for young kids! Fun garanteed!

 Level: Basic
Skill: Speaking
Materials needed: a wand and a jar with bubble solution

Individual students or members of each team are given a jar with bubble solution and a wand. The teacher calls out a category of nouns, adjectives, or verbs as a student begins to blow bubbles. That sudent, or another member of the team, tries to say as many words as s/he can that pertain to that category before all the bubbles disappear. If this is played as a competition between teams, the team that is able to say the most words receives a point.

Source: "Activities for the ESL Classroom Brasil 2010"- David Malatesta

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Activity 45- Absurd Interruptions

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Here is a fun activity to exercise fluency skills!

Level: intermediate and upper
Skill: speaking
Material needed: slips with short instructions for each pair of students


On slips of paper write short instructions (ex: SING A SONG/SEE A GHOST/LAUGH/APOLOGIZE/SAY I LOVE YOU/ANSWER THE PHONE/SAY YOU ARE ANGRY/START CRYING/SAY I HATE YOU/ASK FOR ADVICE/ETC). Divide students into pairs and give them a situation (ex: STANDING IN LINE AT A SUPERMARKET/STANDING IN LINE AT A BANK/AT A COORPORATE PICNIC/AT A WEDDING/ON AN AIRPLANE/ETC). They should begin a normal conversation, but periodically each student should pick up one of the slips of paper and immediately follow the instruction. The other student must react appropriately to the interruption and then continue with the conversation.

Source: adapted from "Activities for the ESL Classroom Brasil 2010"- David Malatesta

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Activity 44- Describing a Mysterious Object

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 Here is a nice way to start a class. It can be used as a speaking or writing activity!

Level: intermediate or upper
Skill: speaking or writing
Material needed: bag with different objects

Students grab an object out of a bag. Ask them to pretend that this object is one of the most important things in the world to them. They should mention the history behind it and what it means to them. Students can either talk about the object or write a short paragraph explaining it.

Source: Unknown

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Activity 43- The Adverb Game

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 Get your students moving, acting, laughing and practicing grammar with this simple idea!

Level: basic 
Grammar topics: present continuous and adverbs of manner
Skill: speaking
Material needed: slips with verbs and adverbs

Prepare two sets of flashcards, half with verbs and half with adverbs. Call a student to come to the front and select one card from each set.The student mimes the phrase and the class has to guess the verb and adverb by saying a complete sentence e.g “ She is cooking slowly” “He is dancing angrily”.

This can be turned into a game or competition if you divide the class into different groups!


Source: Vinicius Lemos

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Activity 42- The Optimistic and The Pessimistic

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How about practicing the first conditional in a different and fun way? Here is an activity to practice it dealing with optimistic and pessimistic views.

Level: basic or intermediate
Grammar point: first conditional
Skills: listening/reading and speaking
Material needed: situations provided by the teacher
Pair up students and assign each one a role: the optimistic and the pessimistic. Explain that the teacher is going to give them a situation (paper slips, board or orally) and that each one should come up with a sentence in the first conditional that would reflect the role assigned to them. As a wrap-up, elicit from the whole class some of their sentences, so that the other classmates can listen to them too.

a) You don`t know if you should go to a concert tonight.
b) You have saved some money and you are thinking about buying a car.
c) Someone offered you a ride to go to school/work.
d) You were offered a great opportunity to live/work/study abroad for a while.
e) To become or not to become a vegetarian? That`s the question!
f) You`ve lived all your life in a flat. Now, you are considering moving to a house.
g) You`ve been in the same job for more than 10 years and you have a prestigious positon in the company. A friend offered you a new job in a recently opened business for a much better salary. You are considering taking the offer.
h) You and your friends are discussing the pros and cons of becoming a  famous celebrity.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Activity 41- What`s the Story?

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Do you have some English language magazines and you don`t know what to do with them? Here is a great tip for you!

Level: upper intermediate or advanced
Skills: reading,speaking, listening and writing
Materials needed: a magazine and writing paper

Bring a magazine to class and show the students the picture of an article. Tell them that the objective of the activity is to guess the content of the article. Split the students into small groups. Display on the board some key questions to trigger their creativity (the teacher needs to prepare some interesting questions beforehand to help students give some direction to their stories). Give them some minutes to brainstorm all the ideas. Later, have groups report their ideas to the whole class. Provide students with a copy of the article and have them read it. As a follow-up, the class can briefly discuss the similarities and differences between their versions of the story and the actual one.
* If time allows, students can write their version of the story before they actually get to read the original story.

* Variation: instead of using a magazine, visit a news website and print a recent article or story.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Activity 40- Slave of Fashion

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 Are you teaching vocabulary related to clothes? He is a very meaningful way to practice it!

Level: Beginners
Skills: Speaking + writing
Materials: Clothes of all styles such as dresses, bellbottoms, jackets, shorts, coats, skirts of all patterns and colors. It would also be good to bring some personal accessories such as rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, hats and caps. 


  1. The teacher places the clothes on the wall or table. He/she asks students to choose clothes which would fit the following styles:
a)    Hippie
b)    Gypsy
c)    Skater
d)    Surfer
e)    Conservative
f)     Fancy
And so on.
  1. The teacher should have cards with family members and verbs such as like, wear, hate, dislike, go, and put on.  
  2. Then, the teacher places the cards on the board and asks students to come up with conversations, using the Simple Present tense.
E.g.:  Do you always wear baggy pants?
         Yes, I do. I like to wear… every time I… or No, I don’t I sometimes wear…

Does your mother wear jeans and a jacket?
Yes, she does. // No, she doesn’t.

Source: Vânia Rodrigues- Adapted from “Virando a Página” – SBS.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Activity 39- M&M`s Make Students Talk

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Here is a very fun strategy that is very effective with kids and teenagers. The best thing about it: it can be adapted to several different grammar points!

Level: Any Level

Skills: Speaking

Materials: A bowl of small candies


  1. Pass a bowl of candies around.
  2. Ask students to get as many pieces of candy as they would like, but don’t let students eat them yet.
  3. Ask students to say something about themselves in English for every piece of candy that they have taken.

Variation: The teacher should also say something about herself/himself for every piece of candy left.

Source: Vânia Rodrigues

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Activity 38- Site Words

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Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Skills: Speaking and Writing

Materials: Laminated folders with double grids, vis-à-vis markers or a copy of two identical grids for each player.

OBJECT OF THE GAME: To be the first player to identify all three of the opponent’s words.


  1. Using the markers or pens to be used on the photocopied grids, each player writes one 3-letter word, one 4-letter word and one 5-letter word (they are the secret words) on top grid folder (horizontally and vertically only – not reversed or diagonally).
  2. First player names a letter-number combination to specify a square on the grid.
  3. The opponent repeats that letter and number (to clarify location) and must tell what letter is in that square or reply with a negative response. The first player then fills in the letter or, if no letter is in the location, draws a small dot to indicate that the space has been called out.
  4. The players continue to alternate guessing locations until one player is able to identify all three of the opponent’s words.


  1. Two identical grids are glued inside of a file folder. Numbers and letters are written across the top and side of the grid so that locations can be pinpointed.
  2. The folders are laminated so that students can write on them and erase after the game (optional if you are using a photocopied sheet of paper with the grids).


  1. Use any letter-number combinations that you want for the pairs of folders.
  2. Players must choose words that the opponents will know. This is a good activity to review the target vocabulary of a Unit (a glossary of a picture dictionary can also be used to help students locate the words). The teacher should also check spelling before the game begins.
  3. The teacher should advise students that proper nouns should not be used.

Source: Vânia Rodrigues

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Activity 37- In One Word

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Here is an idea for a simple idea that can be used as a speaking or writing activity. Moreover, it`s a great opportunity to break the ice and promote some interaction in class.

Level: intermediate or upper 
Skills: speaking or writing
Materials needed: none


Ask students to think of a word that  best represents their last weekend. Have students write the word on their notebook or just say it out loud. Students sit in groups or pair up with a classmate and explain why they picked that word.

a)Students can think of words that best represent their : day, last vacation,mother,personality, work, country,etc.
b)Instead of sitting in groups to talk about their words, students can write a short paragraph.

Source: Vinicius Lemos

Monday, August 22, 2011

Activity 36- Real Life Questions

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 Here is a good idea to use with adult learners as an ice-breaker in the beginning of the class. 
Tip: Students can answer the questions orally or in paper. Questions can be displayed on the board. 

Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Skills: Speaking
Material needed: To guide the students, a piece of paper with the questions below 


  1. Name three things that can be attractive.
  2. What is something your boss can take pride in or be proud of?
  3. What did you hear in the few weeks that was surprising or that you were surprised about?
  4. Describe a situation during which you felt confident about it.
  5.  Why is it believed that “the wicked stepmother is always ugly”?
  6.  Name three desirable characteristics.
  7. Source: Vânia Rodrigues

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Activity 35- Draw the Sentence

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    Practice the Present Continuous with a fun and engaging game! Teen students will definitely have a blast!

    Grammar point: Present Continuous
    Level: Basic
    Skill: speaking
    Material needed: slips with sentences


    Divide class into 2 teams and explain that they have to pick a slip and draw the sentence written in it. 
    Reinforce the idea that all sentences are in the Present Continuous and that the possibilities are "He is _____ing/She is _____ing/They are _____ing"
    Reming the student who is going to draw on the board of the basic rules: no miming, no speaking, no writing words!
    Each team has one minute to shout the correct sentence (and remind them that to get the point they have to shout the sentence as it is written in the slip!).
    Suggestions of sentences to be used:
     They are speaking Chinese
    He is cooking chicken pizza
    She is kissing a frog
    They are dancing hip hop
    He is going home
    She is writing an email
    They are playing handball
    He is riding a pony
    She is washing an elephant
    They are drinking lemon juice
    He is doing the homework
    She is singing opera
    They are cleaning the swimming pool

    The more complex and odd the sentences are, the more fun the students will have!

    Source: Vinicius Lemos, inspired by Paul Seligson and his book English File

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Activity 34- What Do I Know About My Group?

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    Here is a nice idea to build up rapport in class by discussing what they know and remember about their classmates.

    Level: any
    Skills: writing, speaking and listening
    Material needed: slips of paper


    Before class write the name of each student on a slip of paper. In class, give each student a slip and make sure the student doesn`t get the slip with his/her own name. Explain to the students that they are going to have 5 minutes to write down up to 5 things they remember about that person. Collect the slips, read them aloud and ask students to guess who that student is. As a follow up, you can ask students to sit in pairs or in groups and talk a bit more about the information in their slips.

    Source: adapted from

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Activity 33- Mime the Picture

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    Here is a simple but interesting activity to practice fluency in the classroom! The best thing : students will definitely have fun!

    Level: advanced
    Skill: speaking
    Material needed: pictures of people in different poses.

    Ask students to pair up with a classmate and decide who is A and who is B. Student B should turn around or close eyes. Show student A a picture of someone in a specific pose. Tell student A that the objective of the activity is to make student B do the same pose as the one in the picture, however student A cannot touch student B or do any body language so as to help him or her; the only thing student A can do is give directions and explain what student B should do with the body to look exactly the same as the person in the picture! After 2 minutes , student B freezes and teacher compares the picture with the poses. Students can vote for the most similar pose. Then, students switch roles and do the activity again with a different picture.

    Source: unknown

    Sunday, July 24, 2011

    Activity 32- If you objects could talk, what would they say to you?

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    This works beautifully with older teens and adults and can be used as a starter to break the ice.

    Level: low intermediate or upper
    Skills: Writing, speaking and listening
    Material needed: none

    Ask students to open their notebooks and grab a pencil. Ask students to imagine what their personal objects would say to them if they could talk. Provide them with some examples (shoes : "please, wash me more often" "I wish you would go out with me more often" "Can`t you see I`m old fashioned nowadays?") and tell them they are free to choose the grammar structure they are going to use to write their sentences.

    Some suggestions for this activity:

    After the students have written their sentences, ask them to pair up or sit in small groups and ask them to read their sentences and take advantage of this situation to explain and discuss a little bit why their objects would say such a thing. To wrap up the activity, have some volunteers share some of their sentences and explanations with the whole group.

    Source: Unknown