Teaching English as a second language to a classroom full of eager English learners requires a great deal of effort on your part as English teacher to plan and run entertaining class activities. The same old vocabulary and grammar drills from the English textbook simply won’t make anyone excited to learn a new language and can get boring very quickly; even for you.
Whether you’re teaching English to children, teenagers or ESL adult students, an easy way to stimulate their enthusiasm is by getting them out their seats and moving around because motion leads to positive changes in emotion.
How to Play this Fun English Activity…
Get everyone to stand up and gather in a circle. Hold a basketball in your hand and tell everyone the rules of the game (some ideas for variations can be found below).
You begin by saying the first word and then throw or bounce the ball to a student at random and ask them to say a word (you can also play this English word game with any type of ball or soft beanbag).
After saying their word, they throw or bounce it to the next random student and they continue passing the ball and saying a new word until either time runs out or a student can’t think of a new word.
If the student can’t think of a word to say then they have to make a complete sentence using the word that was said by the last person. After saying the sentence, they can then throw the ball to the next student to continue the word association game.
Now for the Topics…
This English word association class activity is a great way to run an icebreaker activity right at the start of your course to get to know your students better. Other times you could use it is to reinforce vocabulary lists, especially in preparation for an upcoming test. So you could specify which type of vocabulary you would like them to use. For example, you could ask students to use only verbs or say only names of countries or adjectives.
Why not spice things up by playing with opposites, where one student says a word and the next one has to give the opposite, and go round the circle in pairs. This works best with an odd number of students in your group because everyone will get the chance to come up with a starting word and an opposite. Simply join or leave the game to make sure you get an odd number.
Too Easy for your Students? Here’s where it gets Tricky…
Begin a story. Throw or bounce the ball to the next student who must continue the story. This means no-one can simply throw the ball after only mumbling or quickly saying one word.
For an idea of a story, why not try the “fortunately-unfortunately” story line. The premise is simple. Each student must add a sentence, but change the next sentence from fortunately to unfortunately or vice versa. For example:
- Unfortunately the plane’s engines failed.
- Fortunately the pilot had a parachute.
- Unfortunately the parachute would not open.
- Fortunately there was a haystack underneath.
And keep the story going till the end. For a variation of the “fortunately-unfortunately” story line, why not try Suddenly Susan?