Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

ESL Games for Very Young Learners
By:Patrice Lesco

English as a Second Language, or ESL, games for young learners provide a fun and informative method of learning English language skills. Role playing and puppet theatres are two games that strengthen English usage and comprehension, as well as build communication skills for the ESL student.

Role Playing
A popular ESL game is role playing. Encourage the class to talk about a variety of professions, social positions or identifiable people within society. Guide the students to discuss particular characteristics associated with each type of person.

Next, ask each student to pick one kind of person he would like to change roles with. Some ideas might be a rock star, a police officer, a teacher, a fireman, a community or government leader, or perhaps, a famous individual from the past.

Once everyone has selected his role, let each student draw a scenario from a container. (Ahead of class, write situations in the form of a sentence on the paper strips and drop them into a container. An example of a situation might be: "A person is shopping for a present for one of his or her parents, and you must help him or her pick it out.")

In front of the class, the students will improvise the situation, using their language skills to "play" the characters they selected to be part of the scenario drawn from the container. To prompt the students, ask them students to think about how differently a rock star might give advice to a shopper, as opposed to how the President of the United States would help the shopper.

Puppet Theatre
A puppet theatre is entertaining and appropriate for all grade levels. It provides students with an opportunity to interact and build their communications skills.

For the puppet theatre, provide a box stage for the class and a variety of puppets. You can purchase puppets or materials for students to make their own. Divide the class into teams of two to three. Each small group must then create a story for their puppets that has a beginning, middle and end that makes sense. Encourage the students to be creative or simple, depending on their language capabilities at the time of the lesson.

Give each team ample time to rehearse their presentations prior to performance, telling them they will have no more than five minutes to perform. After each performance, guide a discussion about the puppet story and assist the students with their conversational and presentation speech.

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