10 dictation activities – breathing new life into an old staple

Dull, lengthy dictations are no longer so prevalent in most ESL classrooms, however, there is some value in the format,  and used in moderation, dictation activities can be a useful and stimulating exercise. Some of their benefits are promoting the noticing of new forms, developing hearing skills, presenting new language, and checking spelling. In a standard […]

Telling time worksheets – giving the time in English

Here are some worksheets with which you can practise different aspects of telling the time. I usually explain telling the time by drawing a big clock face on the board and then dividing it down the middle. On the left side, I write to and on the right side past. Then I add o’clock at the top, half […]

Collaborative Crosswords – for presenting vocabulary and improving fluency

Collaborative crosswords also known as half-crosswords are a pairwork speaking activity in which students must make up the clues for their partner. Because students are challenged to describe objects without naming them directly, they are forced to find synonyms and be creative in their communicative approach, this kind of exercise is very effective at improving […]

Word match – a minimal pairs game for teaching pronunciation

The aim of this minimal pairs game is to get learners to notice problems they have with different but similar vowel and consonant sounds and to practise reproducing the correct sound. Minimal pairs are pairs of words that differ in only one phonological element, for example, a vowel change such as in bed and bad […]

Word mazes are great for teaching pronunciation

Word mazes are a form of puzzle where students must follow the correct sequence of words to make their way from the start of the maze to the finish. Word stress mazes Being aware of syllable stress is crucial for helping non-native English speakers to improve their pronunciation and comprehensibility. These word-stress mazes get student […]

Picture Taboo – to practise describing objects

Picture taboo is a fluency focused activity in which students practise describing objects. This activity builds vocabulary, fluency and listening skills and acts as an introduction to a theme. Picture Taboo has one important difference to regular Taboo. The student describing the object has a picture of it in front of them, so they don’t […]

Idiom worksheets – learn and practise common English expressions

Idiom worksheets for learning and practising idioms themed around different topics. See also mixed up business English idioms. Animal idioms Babies and children idioms Bedtime idioms Body idioms Books and reading idioms Clothes idioms Cooking idioms Crime idioms Fighting idioms Fire idioms Food idioms Games and gambling idioms Halloween idioms Health idioms Home idioms Legal […]

Old School / New School

This simple activity can activate lots of interesting memories and lead to provocative discussions, as well as throwing up lots of useful school-related vocabulary. Ask the students to think of all the subjects they took at school and list them on the board. This can lead to interesting cultural and regional differences arising. For example, […]

Comparative adjectives and superlatives with Venn diagrams and dice

This is a fun way to practise comparative adjectives and superlatives using Venn diagrams. Introducing and sorting adjectives In the first part of this activity, adjectives are sorted into one of two areas on a Venn diagram. If they could apply to both areas they are placed into the overlapping middle area. See the examples […]

Bring vocabulary to life with Scatter Sheets

Scatter Sheets can be used as warm up, theme introduction, vocabulary presentation and fluency exercises. A Scatter Sheet is a page of randomly distributed lexis based around a theme, for example In the Office, At the Supermarket. Students take it in turns describing items for the other students to guess. The teacher helps with any words left […]