If you need some fresh, new ideas for your English conversation class, you’ve come to the right place. I have 10 of my favourite, tried and tested esol speaking activities to try out today.
Need some ESL Conversation Activities for Adults Awesome in your Life?
I know that my readers are all about the ESL teaching awesome and want to make their classes as interactive, engaging and fun as possible. Who wouldn’t? And I also know that you’re busy doing a ton of stuff and probably don’t have as much time to plan your lessons as you might like.
These top 10 Conversation Games for Adults, all things that I use in my own university classes in South Korea. Most of them can be used for just about any topic, so just adapt and go. Venture outside the world of the textbook, you know? It’s good for your mental health and your students will probably be happier too!
Top 10 ESL Speaking Activities for Adults
Without further ado, here are the best conversation games for adults if you teach English and need a few ideas.
#1: Running Dictation
This is the ultimate speaking game for adults to get some energy flowing into your class. Even the quietest, most low-level classes will enjoy this one and it’ll get them talking. Monday morning blues? Give this a go. Friday afternoon itch? Try it out!
The only pre-requisite for running dictation is that your students are able to read reasonably well. This is definitely the case for all university students in Korea. This one is ideal for monolingual classes because speaking the shared first language doesn’t really give anyone an advantage!
Why I love it so much is that it’s a 4-skills activity and covers a bit of listening, speaking, reading and writing, all in a single activity. You can also customize this activity to almost any level, from high-beginners, to intermediate to advanced.
You can learn more about this classic ESL game here: Running Dictation.
#2: Just a Minute
If you ask your students what they want to improve in your class, they’re often say speaking in English. When you dig a bit deeper, they often mean speaking fluency. That is, being able to talk quickly without a lot pauses. This is one of the best activities to help them do that!
This is a fun speaking game that encourages your students to just “talk” and not worry so much about using perfect grammar. However, it’s not great for really low-level students though. Just a Minute is definitely one of my favourite ESL speaking games for adults!
Quick tip: choose some popular, perhaps somewhat controversial topics to make this activity more interesting.
Find out how to do this English speaking activity in your class: Just a Minute. Or, learn more about this challenging ESL speaking activity here:
#3: Small Talk ESL Game
This is an extremely important, but oft neglected skill in English conversation classes. Practice it in a really fun way with this challenging game. This conversation activity is one of the best ESL conversation activities for adults.
Check out all the details here: Small Talk Speaking Activity ESL.
The key is to tell your students not to worry about mistakes but to focus on speaking fluently.
#4: Role Plays
These are often a staple in ESL classrooms, especially for beginners and for good reason. They serve as kind of a bridge between learning very basic grammar and vocabulary and then free-talking. Role plays often work best with high-beginner students who are capable of basic conversations, if given a bit of thinking time beforehand.
The way it works is that you give students a beginning of a conversation and then they have to continue it. Or, you could give them the entire conversation, but leave numerous blanks for them to fill it. Adjectives are what I’ll leave blank most often.
Here is some advice about how to set them up and do them well.
Learn about how I use them in my English classes here: Role-Plays for ESL Students.
#5: Surveys for ESL Students
If I were going to a deserted island with my students and could only bring one ESL activity with me, this would be it. I LOVE surveys and use them all the time in my classes. They are interesting and fun for the students, can be used for almost any topic, grammar point, or vocabulary set and are easy to make in just a few minutes.
But, perhaps the best thing about ESL surveys? They cover a huge range of skills in a single activity: speaking, listening, reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. And, they also encourage students to ask follow-up questions.
Okay, so there’s another best thing about them. Students have to get up and move around the room. This is the perfect way to energize a sleepy, tired class.
Here are 6 of them for you! If you’re looking for ESL conversation activities for adults, look no further!
Check out some of my surveys here: 6 ESL Surveys to Try out in your Classes
#6: ESL Board Games for Adult Learners (or Kids too!)
Okay, so I kind of lied about the previous thing. I’d likely bring a board game to my deserted island with my students instead of a survey. Ideally, I’d bring both because I use them both all the time.
Board games work especially well as a review activity at the end of a unit of before a test. Or, they lend themselves particularly well to units on problems/advice. The best thing? They work for almost all levels, assuming that the students can read.
Also, if you have a large class, they’re the perfect, student-centred activity. Just put students into groups of 4-5, give them the board and let them play! Teachers should monitor the groups and act as referee in case of disagreement. This is kind of a long activity, so allow at least 15-20 minutes for it in your lesson plan.
Find out more here: Board Games for ESL Students. Or, check out this short video for how I like to use board games in my classes:
#7: Vocabulary Review Game
Learning vocabulary is all the repetition. Seriously. It’s all about the repetition, which is the only way our students will remember new words. Help out your students with this fun review game that helps them come up with new ways of describing certain terms.
Check it out here: English Vocabulary Review Game.
You can also do a variation of this one with a list of famous people. Students have to describe one of the people, and the listeners have to guess who it is.
#8: Partner Conversation Starters
Students generally like to talk to each other, but it won’t go well unless you give them an interesting topic, or a reason to talk to each other. Some conversation starters are an excellent way to get things rolling with classroom discussion.
Learn more here: Interesting Partner Conversation Starters.
I generally give students the question of the day, and then let them get to it in pairs or small groups. At the end of the allotted time, you can elicit some feedback about what was discussed in the groups (or just a few of them for a bigger class).
Do you teach really low-level students? This is a fun speaking game for you. I guarantee that even the lowest of the low level will be able to “get” it. I often use this is a review activity before a test.
Learn more here: A Fun ESOL Speaking Game.
The way it works is that you make sentence matches—question and answer. It’s simple, but a great way to review grammar and vocabulary.
#10: 20 Questions for Language Learners
I love it. You love it. We all love it, even English learners. They key is to adapt it a little bit based on the level of the students, and what your goals are.
Try out this fun ESL activity for adults in your classes today! It’s ideal because it requires no preparation, or materials (paper, pens or books). Keep a few of these in your back pocket for those last minute classes that you get thrown your way.
Try it out today: 20 Questions for ESL Students.
It’s also ideal for a quick warm-up for private teaching, teacher vs student style.
#11: Picture Prompt
Okay, one more! This one is too good to leave out. The way it works is that you have to put up a picture (find free pictures online) on the screen at the front of the classroom. Beginners will have to say a word or two of what they see.
This activity it much more versatile with intermediate or advanced students. They can make up a story about what’s happening, or what will happen next. Alternatively, it can be used as a writing prompt for a writing class.
You can also try making cards with various pictures and laminating them. Then, each pair or group can get a different one each class, or even choose one that looks most interesting to them.
What about ESL News Articles?
If you’re teaching English conversation classes, you (and your students) may get bored of the same old stuff from the textbook. That’s why it can be really interesting to bring some currents events into the classroom.
The only issue is that it can be a bit difficult to find news articles that are at an appropriate level. However, it’s not impossible. Here are some of my go-to resources: The Best ESL News Article Sites.
Did you like these ESL Conversation Activities for Adults?
If you liked these fun ESL activities for adults, then you’re going to love this book: 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults. If you’re looking for interesting, engaging ESL games and activities that are low on the prep and high on the awesome, check out this book on Amazon.
The book is well-organized into various section so you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for easily and quickly. Listening activities? Check. Fun speaking game? There are lots of them. Grammar or vocabulary review. Yes. Warm-up or icebreaker for the first day of class? A ton of them! You’ll be able to make lesson plans in no time.
101 ESL Activities is available in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on your bookshelf or a quick reference tool. Or, a copy on your phone for lesson planning on the go.
Order your Copy Today
You can check out the book for yourself over on Amazon, but only if if you want some ESL awesome in your life:
Have your Say about these ESL Conversation Activities for Adults!
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