End of Year Activities and Games : No-prep, Easy to Print

It’s June, the most wonderful month. For students, but mostly for teachers. We really need that break. Here are a couple of end of school activities that will help with that,

But before you start sipping that cocktail by the pool, have some fun with your students if you can. In some countries, students returned to school at the beginning of June to wrap things up. Use the last couple of days to connect with your students and enjoy your time together. Here are some quick and simple end of year activities and games for ESL classes.

No-prep end of school activities

  • Picture dictation

Students work in pairs. One has a picture (any picture from a textbook, their own photos on phone, whatever) and describes the picture to their partner who has to draw the picture as accurately as possible. Entertaining activity for future artists.

  • Picture description

A variation of the previous activity. Students choose a couple of photos(appropriate) from their phones and describe it to each other. Works great as a quick warm-up.

  • Write a survey

Tell the students to each write 10 questions for a class survey. Give them a topic (summer holidays, hobbies, habits, future, etc). When they have written the questions let them survey each other and report their results at the end of the lesson. They love to talk about themselves! Who doesn’t, right?

  • Dictionary game

Tell the students to use a dictionary(an app, online, or paper) and find a couple of words they don’t know. For each of the words they need to write down the original definition of the word and make up two more definitions that are false. Thy then work in groups of three or four and read their definitions to their classmates who have to guess the right definition. They get a point for every correct guess. This is a fun guessing game that is also great for learning new vocabulary.

  • Draw a giraffe

This is another activity for aspiring artists. Two students sit with their backs to each other. Each will have a paper and a pencil/pen. Their task is to draw a giraffe or any other animal or an object, but each of them has to draw only a half of the final image. They can’t see what the other one is drawing so they have to communicate, how to draw it. It’s a lot of fun and the students can have an exhibition of the finished drawings and comment on them.

So cute.
  • Plan a holiday trip

Put the students in pairs and tell them they have to plan a trip for the summer. They have to plan the whole itinerary and come with a budget for that trip. Hiking in the French Alps? A cruise in the Caribbean? Everything is possible!

  • Guess who I am

You’ll need a self-stick pad and a pen. Put the students in groups of four. They will write a name of a famous person or literary character(on anything else) on the self-stick note and stick it onto the forehead of a person sitting next to them so nobody know what is written there. They have to ask yes/no questions to guess the personality. A classic!

Prince William plays post-it note game on charity visit. Source: The Telegraph

  • Mini presentations

Give each student two slips of paper. Tell them to write down a topic they would like to discuss. When they are done, take ale the slips of paper, put them in a bin or a hat and have students each draw a slip. Tell them that they will have to give a short presentation on the topic. Give them 2 minutes to think about the topic, then put them in group of four. They will have each five minutes to present their topic. If there is time at the end of the lesson, have them ask follow up questions.

Print and play end of school activities

  • One minute talk

This is a very simple, no-prep activity.  In pairs, students give each other a topic to talk about and they have to talk uninterrupted for a minute. It is more difficult than it sounds, especially with topics such as egg yolks, armpit hair o or shoe laces. If your students lack imagination, you can use these ideas: One Minute Talk Cards.

  • Role plays

Role-plays are fun, educational, great for shy students, creative, fun, and did I mention fun? You can create your own, look for some online or download these:

Role-plays about nature and the environment

Negotiation role-plays based on real life situations

Everyone negotiates something.

  • Balderdash

Balderdash is a word bluffing game in which you write definitions for weird words. The definitions may or may not be correct. You will find more about the game and a free PDF in this link.

  • Discussion questions

Another classic activity. If you don’t want to waste time googling, you can download this 120 Conversation Starters activity.

  • Picture description

I’ve mention no-prep picture description activities above, for this activity you can download my free PDF resources:

Picture Prompts for Speaking

Creative Storytelling

  • Stories with a twist

This activity is a cross of telling a story, inventing your own and acting. I use famous stories with three or more characters so the kids can work in small groups. Then I assign the story and let them draw a card with a specific genre. You can download the activity with my stories here or prepare your own, using stories well known in your culture.

Stories with a Twist

What is going to happen?
  • Dominoes

A fun game of vocabulary dominoes. Students can work individually, in pairs or in teams. Great for vocabulary revision.

Travel Dominoes

Places Dominoes

Fancy a game of dominoes?

Online end of school activities


Everybody knows Jeopardy. So far, I was able to find any grammar or vocabulary revision quiz I needed. Lots of quizzes on many topics, but beware as the quality varies. You can create your own Jeopardy quiz and you can also assign your students a topic and let them create their own quiz to test their classmates’ knowledge.


I use this site mostly with my younger learners as it doesn’t have many higher level grammar or vocabulary quizzes.
My tip: put your students in teams (max number of teams is 4), choose a quiz and let them play the Classic mode with the power up, it’s much more fun!


My favorite online quiz tool can be used to assign homework (this works great) or do solo practice. Very useful during lockdown, but also anytime. Assigning homework online in just a few clicks? The system checks it? The students see and track their progress? It gamiefies the learning process? What’s not to love!


If you don’t know Kahoot, you should definitely start using it. Right now! Kahoot is widely popular and it’s good to know that its creators made Premium available for free for the rest of the academic year. Try it out!

The Game Gal

Here you can find plenty of simple, family-friendly games. I mostly use the Word Generator for charades, pictionary and other games. The great thing is I only need my laptop and I project the words on the whiteboard, so the students don’t need computers.

15 Back to School Activities: Icebreakers, Warm-ups, and Energizers

Fun and easy-to-use back to school activities

1) Learn your students’ names

New class, new faces, new names – a mess. This back to school activity has saved me multiple times. You can learn 30 new names in minutes, kids have fun and they painlessly learn new adjectives. Start by explaining how difficult it is for teachers to learn students’ names and that you need their help. At the end of the activity let them test you- they will be thrilled. Students need to introduce themselves by an adjective that starts with the same letter as their first name. You start by giving an example: My name is Al, so I am Artistic Al. The first student has to repeat your name after you – You are Artistic Al, and add their own –  I am Hilarious Hannah. The second student repeats the previous names and adds their own, and so on. At the end of the round, ask the first student(who had the easiest task) to say all the names backward. Finally, say all their names quickly(with or without the adjectives). Congrats, you’ve learned your new students’ names!

2) Oh, really?

Put the students in pairs and tell them they will have a conversation. The first student has to start with a short sentence, like this:

Student 1: I play tennis.

The other student responds: Oh, really?and adds extra information( a word or a phrase).

So it should be like this: Oh, really? I play tennis every day.

Student 1 continues: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams.

Student 2 responds: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams in Monaco.

Student 1 responds: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams in Monaco while feeding dolphins.

And so on. Can they keep up?

The student who will form the longest grammatically correct (and at least a little bit coherent) answer wins.

3) Questionnaire

Have your students write a questionnaire. Chose a subject(summer holiday, school, hobbies, general personality questions) or let them decide. After that, students circulate the classroom and ask their questions. They should talk to 4-5 people. When they finish, ask them to share any interesting answers, it usually leads to lively discussions.

Unfinished sentences ESL speaking activity is great for revising grammar, as a warm-up or a conversation starter.

It can be used with groups of various sizes as well as in one to one classes.

4) Unfinished sentences

Unfinished sentences ESL speaking activity is great for revising grammar, as a warm-up or a conversation starter. It’s a perfect back to school activity.

It can be used with groups of various sizes as well as in one to one classes.

Finish the sentence. Tell your story.

1. I was very surprised when__________________________________________________.

2. What I value most about my friends is_____________________________________.

3. I really regret_______________________________________________________________.

4. One of my favourite childhood memories is_______________________________.

5. I could never_______________________________________________________________

5) Find someone who

You can easily find tons of these worksheets online or just put together a couple of ideas.

Find somebody

-who doesn’t like chocolate.
-who is vegan.
-who has a tattoo.
-who speaks more than 2 languages.
-who’s never flown before.
-who wants to be famous.
-who has a special talent.

6) Vocabulary race

This is probably more suitable for younger kids. Put them into two teams, divide the board into two sections, give them a topic and let them run a relay with the marker to write as many words on the topic they know.

7) Get physical- Gordian knot

This activity doesn’t involve any language practice but it is great for kids who don’t know each other, to break the ice and create a positive atmosphere. It also shows you how the students communicate, who is a natural leader and how they deal with problems, so it’s quite useful.

You need an even number of students for this. The students stand in a tight circle. Tell them to close their eyes. Then they put their left hand in front of them and try to grab any free hand they can find. Eyes still closed. Repeat the same with the right hand. Eyes open. They should be intertwined – hence the Gordian knot. Without letting any hand go, they should untangle the knot and form a circle. Sometimes there are two or three smaller circles when they grabbed a hand right next to them. That’s ok, they will work it out after a couple of attempts.

8) Conversation questions

This speaking activity contains 50 ESL conversation questions for teenagers and adult learners. (16+, B1+). It is best for small groups or as a pair-work.

Conversation questions

9) One minute talk

This is a very simple, no-prep activity.  In pairs, students give each other a topic to talk about and they have to talk uninterrupted for a minute. It is more difficult than it sounds, especially with dry topics such as door, socks, or air. If your students lack imagination, you can use these ideas: One Minute Talk Cards.

10) What do they have in common?

This is mostly an activity you can use with new students, but it can be also used in larger classes where the students don’t know each other that well. Put students who don’t know (or don’t know well) each other into pairs and tell them to find out 3-5 things they have in common and 1-2 things they don’t have in common. Let them talk to more people. After that, discuss with the whole class what surprising or interesting things they’ve found out about their classmates.

11) Online quizzes

If your students like technology, you can use some fun interactive activities. You can find a list of 10 great sites here: 10 Websites To Make Your Lessons More Engaging And Fun.

12) Hypothetical questions

These conversation questions are more suitable for more advanced students as the questions are hypothetical, so it requires a knowledge of conditionals and a certain level of creativity. These can be also used for online classes.

Click here.

13) Vocabulary: taboo

A timeless classic! If you have time, you can make your own, if not try these:

Media/Entertainment Taboo Cards,
Travel/Holiday Vocabulary Cards
Health Taboo Cards
Food Taboo Cards.

14) Get them to know each other

A timer, fifteen questions and a lot of fun. A classroom appropriate variation of speed dating. Arrange the desks so that two students sit at one desk facing each other. Give each a set of “speed dating” questions. You can download a set here. Set a timer for a couple of minutes, and when the time’s up one student moves and another sits in their place.

15) Mini presentations

ESL conversation topics for intermediate and upper intermediate students. You can use the slideshow and share your screen on Zoom or other app when teaching online. Just click on the full screen option in the top right corner of the slideshow.

Click here.

More ideas for back to school activities

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Fluent English: Effective Tips on How To Speak Fluently

One of the most common struggles of every English learner is the struggle to speak fluent English. We all strive to speak confidently and naturally and fluency plays a major role in achieving this. Many times learners of English even prefer fluency to accuracy. Students often don’t mind making a few errors while speaking as long as they can maintain a fluent flow of speech. Accuracy versus fluency have been fighting an eternal battle in ESL classrooms for a long time and we will deal with our take on this in another article. Today, we are going to talk about fluency and how to achieve it.

So what does it mean to be fluent in English?

According to English Teaching professional, fluency refers to the measurement of the ability one has to speak smoothly and freely without the need to pause and think about the grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation one needs to communicate.

I would like to emphasize the ability to speak smoothly and freely without the need to pause. How important are grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation if we want to achieve this? One might argue that it is necessary.

But is it?

If the speaker constantly worries about the right grammar, colloquial expressions or pronunciation, or even accent, do they have time to maintain fluency? Of course, this might not be a problem for more advanced learners, but what about those who have yet to achieve that level of accuracy? Are they doomed to aim for accuracy before they can become fluent?

I disagree.

I believe fluency comes before accuracy. I think it gives the learners confidence to speak and express their ideas and opinions without worrying about grammatical errors. So how can you improve fluency and at the same time expand your vocabulary and improve grammar without even trying?

Let’s have a look at these tips on how speak fluent English.

Binge-watching favorite TV shows? Looking for a new recipe on Youtube? Watching news? Watch it in English with English subtitles. Make it a habit. Do it now. I can’t emphasize this enough. Even if you don’t do anything else from this list, do this. And #2 as well.

Practice, practice, practice. You can practice speaking best by speaking. Shocking, I know. The good news, you don’t need a native speaker for that. It can be your classmate, a friend, colleague. Nowadays, you can easily practice online. There are plenty of platforms where you can find English-speaking partners. Most of them are paid, but you can also find some that are free. For example, Speak Peak offers a free and a premium subscription. The free subscription limits the conversation time to 40 minutes, which I think is still enough. The premium version offers unlimited conversation time and some statistics and your partner’s feedback. The registration takes 10 seconds and you can choose your speaking partner’s level of English, from A1 to C2, which is a great feature. If you’re not sure what to talk about, try these conversation starters.

It may sound counterintuitive, but reading can help your speaking. How? By learning new vocabulary and getting certain phrases and expressions under your skin. After some time, you will use phrasal verbs, colloquial expressions, and certain grammar structures automatically. Of course, if you want to achieve this you have to read the right books. Contemporary fiction books with lots of dialogues are perfect. Books such as Elements of the Nature and Properties of Soils, not so much. Extra tip: Combine books with their audio versions. Read and listen at the same time, you don’t have to do it all the time, but doing so occasionally can benefit you immensely.

Around 50%-70% of the Internet is written in English. If you’re not looking for specific information that is only available in your native language, google it in English. From now on, whatever information you need, look it up in English.

While watching anything and everything in English helps, sometimes you have to work a bit harder to improve your fluency. Video lessons are great for this. Watch shorter clips on topics you like and then study vocabulary and even discuss the video with a partner. There are plenty of video lessons online, if you have Netflix, you can try this resource ESL Video Lesson Based on Netflix Docuseries “The Mind, Explained” or you can try lessons based on TedTalks.

While you will improve your vocabulary when watching and reading content in English, you will also need to supplement it with more targeted approach. This depends on your goals. Why are you learning English? What do you want to achieve? What subjects do you expect to be talking about? Choose your reading material and watching content accordingly. Do yu want to improve your presentation skills? Watch TedTalk videos. Do you want to be able to negotiate? Practice negotiating. If you are a visual learner, you could try Visuwords a visual dictionary which shows a visual map of connected words. If you prefer a more classical approach you could try vocabulary quizzes, for example Englishclub has quizzes on many different topics.

What do you think about these tips on how to speak fluent English? Have you tried any of them? Have you tried any other methods that worked for you? Let us know in the comments.

Conversation Questions: Future Tenses

The focus of this activity is to practice grammar while speaking. These conversation questions with future tenses will help the students better understand when to use various future tenses.

When we want to talk about the future we can use these tenses/structures:

  • We can use the Present Simple when we want to talk about scheduled events

The movies starts at 8.30 p.m.

  • We can use the Present Continuous when we want to talk about future arrangements

I’m meeting my friend Jack for beer on Friday.

  • We can use going to when we want to talk about our plans or intentions, or if we make predictions based on evidence.

I’m going to clean the house on Saturday. (plan)

Be careful, the ice is so thin, it’s going to break. (evidence-based prediction)

  • We can use will for expressing opinions and beliefs about the future, and to talk about offers and promises

I’m sure I will win this game!

I will love you forever.

Of course there are more structures/tenses we use when talking about the future(future continuous, future perfect, modals), but for our conversation question activity, we will be using only these four future tenses.

This Storytelling card game is a fun activity that promotes imagination and speaking

Conversation questions: Future Tenses

  • What time does your favorite shop open?
  • When do your final exams start?
  • When is your next Zoom meeting?
  • Are you doing anything interesting this weekend?
  • Are you meeting anyone in person this week?
  • Are you doing anything on Wednesday?
  • What are you having for dinner tomorrow?
  • Are you planning anything special for your next birthday?
  • How organized is your life? How does your calendar look? Any scheduled events? Arrangements?
  • Are you going to order take-out this week?

  • Are you going to cook this weekend?
  • What are you going to do in the evening?
  • What is the next show you are going to watch?
  • What is the first place you are going to visit when it’s possible to travel again?
  • What are you going to study in the future?
  • How do you think the world will change in 20 years?
  • What will you do after you graduate?
  • How will your life change in a year?
  • Will scientists ever discover life on other planets?
  • How do you think technology will change our lives?

Similar resources

Conversation Questions: Present Perfect and Past Simple

ESL Speaking Activity: Conditional Discussion Questions

Phrasal Verbs Activity and Exercises, Conversation Questions and PDF Worksheet

What? When? Where? Asking Questions ESL Activity

28 ESL/EFL Conversation Starters to Spark Conversation

Role-play Scenarios for ESL: Discussing Different Topics and Situations, Even Vaccination!

What is a role-play scenario?

Role-play is any speaking activity when you either put yourself into somebody else’s shoes, or when you stay in your own shoes but put yourself into an imaginary situation, also called a scenario!

I put together my favorite role-play scenarios and speaking activities which I used in the classroom and can be easily used on Zoom. Some of them are suitable for more advanced students, for example the science, and environment role-play scenarios. Other can be used with all levels, so they are also great for lower level, or younger students, for example the traveling and negotiation role-play scenarios.

When we use the activity on Zoom I always send the role-play activity to them in advance and when we have our online lesson I also share my screen with the role-play activity, so they can take a screenshot if they haven’t downloaded it. Then I put the students in the breakout rooms and they usually have 5-10 minutes for the pair work activity.

During that time, I always pop in to different breakout rooms to listen in. I correct, help and answer any questions if needed. What activities do you use on Zoom?

Role-play: Traveling

A1: You are a receptionist of a 5* hotel. You are very polite and you can deal with annoyed guests. Try to calm down the guest and solve any issues they have. Try to avoid calling the manager.

B1: You are a wealthy businessman staying at a 5* hotel. You are used to quality service and luxury, but this hotel doesn’t offer it. The room is too small, staff is rude, AC is noisy. You want to talk to the manager.

For more traveling role-plays click here.

Role-play: Negotiation

A negotiation, simply put, is a compromise. Two or more parties come together, have a discussion, and reach an outcome that addresses the needs of everyone involved.” – Forbes

A1: You have too much on your plate right now and you need help with your English essay assignment which is due on Friday. Ask your classmate for help. What would you be willing to do for them if they helped you? Think of the things you are willing to offer:

B1: Your classmate needs your help with the English essay assignment which is due on Friday. You might consider helping them if they can provide the right incentives. Think of four things you want for helping them(can’t be money):

If they agree with three of the four, you might consider helping them.

For more negotiation role-plays click here.

Role-play: Science

A1: You decided not to vaccinate your children. You read articles about vaccination and you learned how dangerous it is. It causes autism and contains lead and other toxic elements. You know what is best for your child and herbal teas and some meditation will work just fine. You are angry that your friend doesn’t support you.

B1: You are a person of science. A rational being. You believe in data, facts, and verifiable experiments. Your friend decided not to vaccinate their children. They believe that vaccination causes autism and that it is dangerous. Try to explain the benefits of vaccination and to disprove those absurd theories.

For more science role-plays click here.

Role-play: Environment

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry

A1: Many of your friends use cars to commute to work even though it is more expensive than public transport. You are concerned about the impact this irresponsible behavior has on our planet. Try to persuade your friend to switch to more eco-friendly transportation.

B1: You drive to work every day. You live in a free country and you don’t feel the need to explain yourself to anyone. Why shouldn’t you drive? Your friend’s been nagging you about it for a while. Talk to them.

For more environment role-plays click here.

Role-play: Work problems

A1: You are a project manager who has been assigned to a new project. One of the members of your new team is not co-operating with the other team members. He opposes every idea, causes conflict, and is generally difficult to work with. Talk to him and solve the problem.

B1: You have worked for this company for 10 years and you feel unappreciated. You started to work on a new project with co-workers who are not so experienced as you are and you think your manager is incompetent. You complain a lot because things do not work as they should. Your manager wants to talk to you.

For more office problems role-plays click here.

Engaging Online Teaching: ESL Activities and Games

Here are a couple of ideas for online teaching ESL activities and games that can be assigned to students so they can work independently as well as used during your video meeting.

1. Artist in your own home

Students have to take 10 photos of anything they consider beautiful. You can even assign a topic, e.g. envirnment, nature, fashion, architecture, food. They can edit it in any program if they want, create a collage, anything. Ideally they create a PDF booklet with the 10 photos and a description of each photo. You can share the best photos/booklets on school website/social media.

2. Scavenger hunt

It’s a shame I haven’t know Flippity until recently, but never mind, better late than never. Flippity is a site which allows you to change Goggle Spreadsheets in to funny little games, including Scavenger Hunt. It’s really easy, you download/make a copy of a chosen template, change the information into whatever you want, save, publish a share the link to your students.

3. Research&Survey

Assign the students a topic which they will have to research online using reliable sources.They will also have to create a survey and collect data on the topic (they could conduct online interviews with classmates, friends, share the survey on social media, etc). After that they will report their findings in the medium of their choice( an article, a report, a presentation, an infographic, a poster, a video, etc.)

4. Create a Kahoot quiz

Why should you do all the hard work? Have your students create their own Kahoot quizzes. Whatever grammar or vocabulary they are learning at the moment can be reviewed painlessly. The best thing is, they will learn twice. First time, when they create their quiz, and second time when they play their classmates’ quizzes. You can choose one or two quizzes to be played online for the whole group via Zoom or any other software you are using. Assign the rest of the quizzes to be played as a challenge.

5. Quizlet

Quizlet needs no introduction, but besides using it for independent student work, you could also use it for your Zoom classes. I use it to create discussion questions or speaking prompts so I can easily share it on my screen. Students always see only one question/prompt, so they focus more. It’s super easy to prepare and when you are pressed for time, you can use a couple of my discussion sets on different topics.

Other resources

Online ESL Video Lesson : Can Sci-fi Predict the Future?

TEDtalk Video ESL Lesson Plan: What Makes Something Go Viral

TED Talk ESL Video Lesson Plan: How To Grow New Brain Cells

Digital and Online Teaching Resources for Teachers Who Teach English from Home

ESL Communication Activity: Science Role-Plays

Can we teach communicative competence without critical thinking? Is the topic of vaccination or chemtrails too controversial?  Try this ESL role-play on science and let me know what you think.

Continue reading ESL Communication Activity: Science Role-Plays

No Time? 10 No-prep ESL Activities, Warm-ups and Energizers

Sometimes I don’t have time or energy to print extra resources or activities.

Some days, like today, the printer in my office runs out of ink, the printer in the common area is jammed and while two colleagues are trying to repair it, I quietly leave to copy some activities out of a resource pack, but the copy machine I wanted to use, the one for students, the one that requires coins (a lot of coins) to operate, is not working.

I have no time, my lesson is about to start. Sounds familiar?

No-prep ESL activities are my life. I need them, I love them. I can’t get enough of them.

Let me know if you have any favorite no-prep ESL activities.

1) Questions? Questions!

This is a silly little game, it’s short and funny, which makes it a perfect no-prep warm up or an energizer. Put the students in pairs and tell them to choose a topic. Then, give them some time (5 minutes) to talk about it. The catch? They have to speak ONLY in questions! Its fun to watch and they can practice question tags.

2) Alphabet games

This is an excellent activity for vocabulary revision. Write the letters of the alphabet on the board, project it on the whiteboard, or alternatively tell students to write the letter down in a column. That is all the prep you need to do. Their task will be to write a word from a certain category/topic for each letter of the alphabet (you might want to omit difficult letters such as Z or X). And this is where the fun begins because this game has so many variations. The topics can include:

  • food
  • animals
  • objects
  • professions
  • phrasal verbs
  • adjectives
  • travel vocabulary
  • body parts and health vocabulary

3) Have you ever?

Tell the students to write down 10 questions starting with Have you ever. This activity is great for students that don’t know each other that well, but it works for all students, no matter what age or level. The students can be very original and curious and that can make this activity quite entertaining. When they’ve completed the questions, put them in pairs, and let them ask and answer the questions. At the end of the activity, ask them what have they learned about their classmates.

Have you ever petted a tiger?

4) What has changed?

Choose a student(or ask a volunteer) to have a good look around, then tell them to step outside. With the rest of the students, rearrange the classroom. Call the student back inside and ask them if they can spot any changes. Great for reviewing classroom vocabulary and prepositions.

5) Free speaking

I sometimes do this at the beginning of the lesson as a warm-up activity and sometimes at the end as a “reward”. Put the students in pairs or groups of three and tell them they will have to speak for a minute or two about a certain topic. The topic will be given to them by their classmates and it can be anything from free time to more difficult topics such as volcanoes, nails, moles, or kelp. It sounds easy but it’s not, the task is to speak as fluent as possible, and under pressure, each second lasts much longer. You can find more topics for free speaking here.

6) Acting out

I have a created PDF resource for this activity some time ago, but I’ve recently realized kids don’t know the same stories I do anymore. I am too old now, I can’t keep up. So you can either use my older version or the no-prep version:

  1. On slips of paper, students write famous stories, e.g. Captain America, Titanic, Romeo and Juliet, etc. This is to guarantee that they will know them.
  2. On other slips of paper, they write movie genres, e.g. sci-fi, comedy, horror.
  3. Collect the slips with stories and genres.
  4. Put the students into groups of three or four (depends on the story).
  5. Give each group a story and a genre.
  6. Tell them they have to prepare a short scene from that story, BUT, they have to make the story according to the genre. So the result might be: Cinderella as a horror movie.
  7. Give them time to plan, write and practice their scenes.
  8. Enjoy the show.
Keep on swimming!

7) Picture description

Tell the students to open their textbooks on a random page. In pairs, they take turns and describe all the pictures on that given page.

8) Word explanations

This is a quick no-prep revision I use at the end of every unit to recycle and revise vocabulary. Put students in pairs of groups of four, give them a pile of paper slips(20-40). Tell them to write one word on each slip. They have to work together to avoid duplicates. The words should be from a recent unit/topic, they can use textbooks or other resources. When they are done, they will swap the pile of paper slips with another group. This is when the game begins. They will take turns and draw a paper slip from the pile, explain the word without using the word or gestures. The student who first guesses the word gets a point and keeps the card. The student with most points/cards is the winner.

9) 5-second questions

Fast paced and competitive, no-prep required. Put the students in pairs or if you have a larger class into groups. Tell them they will have to ask each other questions to earn points. Appropriate questions, of course. Sounds easy, right? The problem is, they will only have 5 seconds to ask a question, and it has to be grammatically correct. To make it more stressful, the other student- their opponent can count down the seconds. If they ask a correct question in the time limit, they will get a point.

10) Oh, really?

You don’t say.

This is another simple and no prep activity which students love. Put the students in pairs and tell them they will have a conversation. The first student has to start with a short sentence, like this:

Student 1: I play tennis.

The other student responds: Oh, really?, and adds extra information( a word or a phrase).

So it should be like this: Oh, really? I play tennis every day.

Student 1 continues: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams.

Student 2 responds: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams in Monaco.

Student 1 responds: Oh, really? I play tennis every day with Serena Williams in Monaco while feeding dolphins.

And so on. Can they keep up?

The student who will form the longest grammatically correct (and at least a little bit coherent) answer wins.

Vocabuary game
Speaking Activities

Digital and Online Teaching Resources for Teachers Who Teach English from Home

I put together a list of free digital and online teaching resources, or resources that now offer premium features for free, that might be useful now when many teachers are overwhelmed by the sudden shift to online teaching, for which many of us aren’t prepared due to the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Platforms for digital classroom

1. Zoom

Zoom is video-conferencing tool. The users can collaborate on projects, record sessions and share screens. The Basic plan is free and it offers unlimited number of meetings, however it limits the time of the meetings with three or more participants to 40 minutes.

2. Webex

This is another video-conferencing tool. The free plan offers screen sharing and meetings up to 50 people.

3. Classdojo

Classdojo is a free communication app and website for building school community. You can share photos, videos, files, use portfolios, messaging and more.

4. Google Classroom

This free service by Google simplifies creating, distributing and grading assignments. It helps teachers get classes organized, and communicate efficiently with students.

5. Padlet

Padlet has a free version and a premium version for schools. It is a virtual board similar to Pinterest, but it offers a better way how to organize your notes, or whatever you want.

Online resources

1. Kahoot Premium

Kahoot is widely popular and it’s good to know that its creators made Premium available for free for the rest of the academic year. Try it out!

2. Quizziz

My second most popular online quiz tool can be used to assign homework(this works great) or do solo practice. Very useful these times.

3. Cambridge English Write and Improve

This website is great for practicing writing! Students register for free and submit their word and get instant feedback and tips on how to improve their writing. There are many writing assignments, W&I workbooks: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and extra category “Just for fun.”

There is also a test zone for IELTS Academic, General training and B2 First Certificate.

4. TedEd Lessons

This is great for assigning homework. There are lessons based on the videos, students just need to register for free. I then assign videos, they watch it at home, do the Dig deeper and Discuss sections. You can also customize the lessons.

5. LearnEnglish Teens by the British Council

This lovely website is great when students have to study at home. They can practice grammar and vocabulary and I particularly like the Skills section that has online exercises so students get instant feedback.

6. OpenLearn

Free courses. Who needs more? But seriously, this is a great resource for older students. There are plenty of free courses on different subjects(Science, History, Languages, Nature, etc.)

7. Book Creator

This is fun and creative collaborative tool. Your students can create digital books online. Now you get get the premium features for free for 90 days.

8. Smithsonian Explore&Learn

The Smithsonian offer a lot of online activities not only for the younger kids. On their website you will find the Learning Lab with thousands of resources and Science Game Center with fun games and apps.


Future Learn is another platform that offers free courses. There is one that might be particularly interesting for some teachers, it’s called Teaching English Online. Why not give it a go if you have the time. And let us know what you think!

Other resources

Video lessons

Online exercises

10 ESL Netflix Shows to Watch With Your Students

Video lessons are an engaging and fun way to teach vocabulary, grammar, listening and culture to various age groups and levels.

However, sometimes you just want to use an interesting video as a filler or a discussion material without any preparation. Sometimes there is no time for printing the lessons plans. No time for searching for an appropriate video. Just hit the play button and catch a breath. Trust me, I understand.

Here is a list of 10 ESL Netflix shows to watch with your students. These are appropriate for the classroom, educational and suitable for discussion about the usual topics as food, travel, health, etc.

1. Secrets of Great British Castles

This TV show has six episodes that last from 40 to 60 minutes. It explores the history of the most famous British castles.

2. Ugly Delicious

You can find more TV shows on Netflix featuring David Chan, but I chose Ugly Delicious because it cover s lot of different cuisines and foods and therefore a more diverse vocabulary.

3. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

The episodes in the first season of this show are named after various terrain. Mountain. Forest. Coast. Underground. The second season focuses on countries including Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Norway so the views are spectacular and the vocabulary interesting and useful.

What an extraordinary view!

4. Greatest Events of WWII in Colour

Even if you don’t teach history, you should understand the importance of documentaries about WWII. Especially now, when young people lack critical thinking, spread fake news and believe in alternate history.

5. Explained

This show cover a wide range of topics from music to animal intelligence. Be careful though, there are a couple of episodes in the first season that are probably not appropriate for school( Orgasm, Weed) so have a look at the episodes and make sure you choose a topic that is appropriate for your students.

6. The Mind Explained

The show has six episodes: Memory, Dreams, Anxiety, Mindfulness, Psychedelics. Each twenty-minute episode explains the mysteries of our brains in an engaging, fun way, with plenty of real-life examples, graphics, and experts. You can even download a worksheet for one of the episodes – Anxiety, here.

7. You vs. Wild

My students really like this show. It is interactive and the students make decisions in order to help Bear Grylls survive. They love making Bear eat bugs or raw eggs and jump from cliffs. Highly entertaining.

Will he eat it? Your students decide!

8. 3Below: Tales of Arcadia

This animated show follows friendly aliens and teenage heroes that fight against the forces of evil.

9. Next in Fashion

Great for teaching clothes&fashion vocabulary, this reality show competition has 10 episodes in which eighteen designers compete in rounds to create unforgettable designs.

10. Our Planet

This award winning show narrated by David Attenborough is amazing. I won’t say more, just watch it, with or without students.

Our planet is their planet as well.

Other ESL video resources:

TED Talks: What Makes Something Go Viral

TED Talks: How to Grow new Brain Cells

Stand Up Video Lesson Plan

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