Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

English Class Activities for Beginners
By:Maggie McCormick

Starting English classes can be very difficult for beginners, so it's up to you to help them through it. By choosing activities that are easy to do using English that they know, students will build up confidence in speaking. Decide on a structure for your lessons and follow that structure so that students always know what to expect.

Conversation Practice
Students need to build up their conversation skills with phrases that they know. Repetition is key for beginning ESL students. Start with simple questions, such as "What's your name?" and "How are you?" As students progress with their vocabulary and sentence structure, you can begin to ask them "Do you like apples?" or "What animal do you like?"

Vocabulary Drilling
The first step to gaining fluency in English is learning more vocabulary words. Use a set of flash cards with a similar theme--fruits, animals or vehicles, for example--and show students the cards while saying the words. Students should repeat. When students are just starting out, it's best to do drilling as a class activity--hold out a card and let the class say what it is, with you offering help as needed. This avoids putting any one student on the spot.

Use a game that helps you to reinforce the English that students are using. It's smart to start with games that use vocabulary recognition or repetition, rather than requiring students to quickly recall English words or phrases. For example, you could play the slap game, where you lay all the cards on the floor and have students touch the picture of the word that you say. You can also play a game where you ask a student a question such as "Can you fly?" and the student answers "No, I cannot fly," then gets to perform an activity such as shooting a basket.

Grammar Practice
Give beginning ESL students simple sentence structures that they can use by putting new vocabulary words into it. For example, you can teach the sentence structure "It's a..."; this allows students to use any vocabulary word. Write the sentence on the board and have students repeat the sentence several times. You can then go around the classroom asking each individual student to use the sentence.

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