No Prep/Low Prep ESL Activities

Having some ESL activities ready to use at a moment’s notice can help you feel more relaxed in the classroom. No matter how experienced you are as a teacher, there are always those days when things just don’t seem to work out as planned. Here are a few suggestions for some low-prep materials that you can use again and again:

Material: Pictures/Photographs – ESL Activities

Collect interesting pictures. Laminate them or mount them on card-stock for durability. Keep some in your bag or classroom for short notice activities. Some activity suggestions:

  • Put some pictures with some similarities on the board. Students take turns describing them (orally or in writing) and others have to guess which picture has been described.
  • Hand small groups of students 3-5 random pictures, or have them choose pictures. Students must them create a scenario that connects all the pictures.
  • Hand out a picture to each student (or have students choose one). They must decide what the picture reminds them of. Partners must then ask questions to elicit as much detail as possible about the event.

For more ideas for using pictures, visit the resource center from your TESOL account.

Material: Index Cards with Words/Phrases – ESL Activities

Mingle: Hand each student a verb card and have them move around the classroom asking a question using the word on the card. Students can exchange cards and move onto a new partner. The teacher can decide to limit questions to specific types or tenses depending on the class.

Talk about: Have students work in pairs and hand each pair a small number of topic cards. When the teacher says start, one student must take a card and talk continuously on the top for the allotted time. When the teacher says stop, the other member of the pair takes a turn. When all the cards have been used, students can volunteer to try in front of the whole class.

You’ll soon develop your own list of favorite ESL activities that you can use in your classroom at a moment’s notice.

Related reading:

Information Gap Activity: Spot The Difference

Picture Description as an Information Gap Activity