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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide

Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

ESL Communication Exercises
By:Joel Barnard

Communication is the purpose of all languages and, hence, the English language classroom should reflect this. Therefore, a variety of communication exercises and activities should form an integral part of most lessons for learners of English as a Second Language. This will make classes enjoyable for teachers and students alike, as well as being an effective way of teaching English.

Ask the students to stand up and arrange the chairs and desks in a haphazard manner around the room. Divide the class into pairs, and ask one person from each pair to stand at one side of the room and her partner at the other. Blindfold one person from each pair. The partner of each blindfolded student must now, orally, give directions to her partner to guide her across the room hitting as few tables and chairs as possible. For example, "Turn left, no! Left, OK, go forward, stop!" Award five points to the pair who is quickest across the room, three points to the second quickest pair, and just one point for the third quickest pair. Take away one point from each pair for each object they hit. This activity is suitable for ESL students of an elementary level.

Divide the class into pairs and give each pair a set of words appropriate to their language level on slips of paper. Ask students not to look at the words. One student from each pair picks up a slip of paper and attempts to describe the word to his partner without using the word itself. For example, "It's an animal. It's a gray color. It lives in Australia. It likes to jump and hop and box." If his partner correctly guesses the word, "Kangaroo," then they get one point and move on to the next word with the other student in the pair describing it. This activity is suitable for ESL students from elementary to intermediate levels.

The Parachute Game
Divide the class into groups of four or five. Assign each student a character to play, such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa or Kobe Bryant. Explain to the students that they are in a plane that is about to run out of fuel, and there are enough parachutes for all but one of their group. Each student must now, in character, explain to the group why she should be one of those who gets a parachute. Encourage the other students in the group to ask questions if they wish. Circulate as the groups do the exercise, giving help where necessary. After 20 minutes, or when everyone has had a chance to convince their group they should have a parachute, stop the exercise and tell the groups to vote on who doesn't get a parachute. Ask one student from each group to explain to the class who their group voted for and why. This activity is suitable for ESL students from lower intermediate to advanced levels.

Ask each student to think of four facts about themselves, but to make one of them a lie. This lie should not be obvious or easy to guess. For example, "I was born in Mexico City. I have two dogs. I met my wife when I was 12, and I love to dance." Divide the class into pairs. One student from each pair reads his four facts, and the other student asks questions to try and determine which is a lie. For example, "Where in Mexico City were you born? How long did you live there? Why can't you speak Spanish then?" After 10 minutes, or when everyone has finished, stop the activity and ask the student asking the questions to guess which statement is the lie. The student answering the questions can now reveal the truth. Restart the exercise with the other student in the pair now asking questions of his partner. This activity is suitable for ESL students from lower intermediate to advanced levels.

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