Top 10 ESL Activities for University Students and Adults

ESL Activities for Adults

Top 10 ESL Activities for University Students and Adults

If you’re looking for some ideas for your conversation classes with university students or adults, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my top 10 ESL activities for adults that will make your lesson planning easy and your classes as interesting, engaging and fun as possible.

Running Dictation 4-Skills ESL Activity

This is one of my favourite ESL activities for adults because it’s challenging and fun, uses teamwork and incorporates all 4-skills into a single activity (listening, speaking, writing, reading). Try it out and I’m sure your students will really enjoy it. Don’t forget to implement the rule “whispers only,” or your co-workers will likely hate you when there is continuous loud yelling coming from your classroom and you’re interrupting other classes.

You can check out this fun, 4-skills ESL activity here:

Running Dictation Details

Just a Minute

This ESL activity for adults makes an excellent warm-up at the beginning of class. Students have to talk about a certain topic, chosen at random for an entire minute, without stopping. You can turn this into a conversation activity as well by putting the students into groups and requiring the other people to listen carefully and ask some follow-up questions.

Find out more about this popular ESL warm-up here:

Just a Minute ESL Warm-Up

Small Talk ESL Activity

This is a very important skill that our students must practice, but it can be quite difficult to design an activity that is authentic. Try out this small talk activity that is challenging, but really fun. I guarantee your students will enjoy it!

You can find out more details about this ESL activity for teenagers and adults here:

Small Talk ESL Activity

Surveys for ESL Students

I love to do ESL surveys in my classes because I think they’re one of the best ways for students to practice listening carefully to what their partner says and then asking follow-up questions. Surveys also work well for sleepy classes because they get students up out of their seats and moving around.

Check out more details about one of my favourite ESL activities:

ESL Surveys

Dictogloss: A Favourite 4-Skills ESL Game

This is one of those activities that I use at least once every semester because I think it’s just an excellent ESL activity. It practices a few different skills at once, it’s challenging and it also forces students to paraphrase what they’ve heard.

You can find out how to set-up and play this ESL game here:

Dictogloss Speaking and Listening Activity

Disappearing Text ESL Grammar Review Game

If you’re looking for a quick filler activity at the end up class, try this one. It can take as little as a couple of minutes and it’s an excellent way to review what you’ve studied that day. It’s only for lower-level students. Disappearing text is one of the best ESL activities for adults who want to brush up on their grammar and vocabulary.

Find out more about this ESL Grammar Review Game:

Disappearing Text

Group Therapy ESL Icebreaker

This is a fun ESL activity for adults that is the perfect icebreaker for the first day of class. It’s a interesting way for adults to share what they’re nervous about with regards to studying English.

See how to set-up and use this ESL icebreaker in your classes:

Group Therapy

Apples to Apples Vocabulary Game

If you’re looking for a “party” game or something to review vocabulary, Apples to Apples for ESL students is your activity. You can buy the cards on Amazon, or make your own.

Check out this vocabulary game for yourself:

Apples to Apples

Board Games for ESL Students

I love to play board games in my real life, so I make my students play them as well! I usually design my own based around whatever I’ve been teaching that class. Don’t forget to give a little prize to the winner of each group to make it a bit more interesting.

(If you’re looking for a “real” board game to play with your students, check out King of Tokyo. I play it all the time with my university students and they love it).

Find out how to make your own ESL board games and use them in your classes today:

ESL Board Games

20 Questions

ESL students are often very good at answering questions because a normal mode of class operation is that the teacher asks a question and the student answers it. They’re often quite weak at asking questions and this ESL activity can help them with that. 20 questions is one of my favourite ESL activities for adults.

Find out how to adapt this fun game for ESL students:

ESL 20 Questions

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