Fun adult ESL activities for tutoring or classes
March 5, 2009 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Adult ESL fun activities, for groups and especially for private students.

I'm starting to teach some adult English classes, and I have my first private student tomorrow morning, and I'd love some suggestions of either fun things to do with a class to spur on conversation or fun things to do with a private student for the same goal.

Suggestions are particularly appreciated for beginning to intermediate students.


(Classes are in general bunches of austrians, and my private student is Korean [and future private students will likely also be Korean])
posted by sdis to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend who took her ESL class to the farmers market. There are lots of easy nouns to identify and talk about, and it's a great way to see local culture. She also played lots of word games like Outburst.
posted by easy_being_green at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2009

I have created a huge online archive of activities and lesson ideas especially for people like you, sdis. Go to my Moodle site, and join the "Teaching Tips" course. The entry key is "freestuff". Happy hunting. Feel free to email me if you have specific questions about any of the stuff you find there.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:26 PM on March 5, 2009

I have printed song lyrics and then cut up the lines and mixed them up. Then students have to listen to the song and try to arrange the slips of paper so that they match the song. I did it with the song "Rocky Raccoon" because of the funny lines and talking parts to the song.
posted by unreasonable at 4:41 PM on March 5, 2009

It's been a while since I taught ESL overseas, but:

More for group lessons, but ESL Cafe's Idea Cookbook has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion. Some of the activities/suggestions are better than others, some will work better with different age and cultural groups. As you're browsing through there, if you come across a great idea that you can't use right away, stash it away in your Backup Activities Box for those rainy days when some or most of your planned activities miss and you need to bail out of them.

This is a good source of conversation ideas/topics but again I'd take into account the student's level, personality, culture.

I highly recommend the New English File series. The best textbook series I've used, for all levels (Beginner -> Upper-Intermediate). If you like the textbooks, you'll definitely want to get the teacher's resource books as well. They have some excellent photocopiable activities. I always kept copies of the particularly good ones with me, in every class, as backup.

An aside: assuming a 1hr session, the first private lesson I usually just focused on conversation, getting to know the student and, just as important, getting the student to know me. I find the first class really sets the tone and atmosphere of the course. I like to find out why they're taking the course, some of the situations and scenarios they'd want to improve their English in. (E.g., taking/leaving a message over the phone, shopping, grocery shopping, restaurants, ordering for delivery/takeout, the doctor's office, complimenting, making complaints, making suggestions, etc.) This really helps as you can plan and customize lessons accordingly. It's a great feeling when a student says to you, "I ordered Pizza Hut yesterday!", because you know they're practicing their English, gaining confidence, and can see the value in taking the course.

It's late and I'm rambling so I better stop. Good luck and have fun!
posted by lmm at 2:42 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

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