I love to start my English classes off with an ESL warm up activity. They’re awesome for a whole lot of reasons but the main one is that they help ease students into learning English so that they’re ready for the really important stuff later on in the lesson. Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about some fun warm-up activities to try out in your classes.
Let’s get into the ESL warm up activities to try out in your classes today. I think you’ll like using them as much as I do!
Fun Warmer Activities for Adults
Are you looking to get your ESL classes with teenagers or adults started off on the right foot? Well, you’ve come to just the right place as I have my top ten ESL warm up games for you.
You want to make your classes even more awesome, right? I hope so. Use some of these warmers! They’re ideal for new English teachers looking for some great ideas. And, they’ll help your classes get started off on the right foot before jumping into the heart of the lesson.
Check out these fun warm-up activities to make your English classroom as engaging and interesting as possible. They’re perfect for either generating some interest in the topic of the day or for reviewing material from previous classes. Either way, consider these ESL warm up activities an ace up your sleeve, okay?
#1: An Idiom a Day
If you teach something like American culture, or “speaking,” try out this idiom activity that involves drawing it. It’s something that you can do throughout the course of a semester and most students really enjoy it. Students have to draw the idiom literally, and then make a guess at the actual meaning.
Learn more here: Idioms for ESL/EFL Students.
#2: Conversation Starters for Adults
The point of a conversation class is usually to get the students speaking in English on a variety of topics. These starters will help you do that.
At times, I’ve used an interesting question of the day to get my classes started and the students have to discuss it in pairs or in a small group. I don’t often do it anymore because I’m perhaps too lazy to think of questions. Or, you can get students to give you some ideas as well!
Check them out here: Conversation Starters for English Learners.
#3: Mixed-Up Sentences
Teaching and learning grammar doesn’t have to be the most tedious thing ever. Use something like this mixed-up sentence activity and make it slightly better than the mind-numbing stuff from your textbook.
It works well as a review for a previous class, or to sum things up at the end of a session. It works best for beginner to low-intermediate because it’s too simple for advanced level students. The thing I love is that it forces students to pay attention to word order in a way that they often don’t have to.
Check it out here: Mixed-Up Sentences.
Similar to mixed-up sentences, this gets students focusing on something that is really boring and tedious, in a less tedious way. You can write your own, or use some articles and then adapt them to your needs. See: Proof-reading and editing activity for more details.
It’s a great way for students to work on language (grammar and vocabulary) from previous classes.
#5: Just a Minute ESL Speaking Activity
Here’s another quick warm-up that you can use with your higher-level students. You can use less time (1 minute) for lower-level students, and 2-3 minutes for higher-level ones.
It’s also easy to turn this into a listening activity by requiring the rest of the students in the group to ask follow-up questions to the person speaking.
The best part? You set the category or topic, so can tie it easily into your lesson.
#6: SOS Review Game
Remember the SOS game from when you were a kid? I’ve turned it into a fun review game for language students. It works with just about any topic that you can think of. This is definitely one of my favourite ESL warmup games and works well with the whole class, or you can have students play in groups.
Play it with your students today and leave a comment to let us know how it went! This one is also ideal for young learners.
#7: Twenty Questions
#8: Would You Rather? Fun Warm-Up Activity for Adults
Some of my favourite ESL games are adapted from drinking games into something slightly tamer. Would you rather is a good one, especially for a warmer activity for adults.
This is one of these no-prep activities that doesn’t require any materials, including paper. It’s useful to have a few of these in your back pocket for those last-minute classes that might come your way.
It’s also perfect for any level if you adjust the words that you use. Learn how to do it here: Would You Rather?
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 49 Pages - 07/30/2015 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)
#9: Famous People to Invite to a Party
This ESL speaking activity makes an excellent warm-up for the “famous people” unit that inevitably appears in every single ESL textbook ever published.
Find out how to do it here: Who would you invite to a party?
#10: Alphabet Game
#11: Warm-Up Questions
Conversation questions are a classic warm-up activity. Usually, the teacher thinks of them and the students answer them.
These ones are even better because the students have to think of them and write them down. That’s some student-centered goodness and you won’t have to use too much of your creative power. More details about student-generated awesome here.
#12 ESL Warm-Up Games: The Cocktail Party
This small talk ESL activity is perfect to get your student practicing an important but often overlooked skill. What’s that skill you might ask yourself? Small talk of course! A huge part of the English language. If you’re looking for warmer activities for teens or adults, look no further than the Cocktail Party.
The best part? Students have to stand up and mingle, so it’s a great way to get some energy back for a tired class. Make time for small talk in your classes and add some variety to your classes.
Check it out here: Small Talk Activity.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 85 Pages - 02/02/2020 (Publication Date)
#13: Describe the Picture
This is a classic ESL warmup activity. It’s simple, requires almost no preparation and is ideal for beginner to more advanced students. You can use if for speaking, conversation or writing classes.
Put up a picture on the screen at the front of the classroom, and elicit some information. For beginners, it may be a word of something that they see, or it could be objects in relation to each other if you’re teaching about prepositions of place. With intermediate levels students, it might involve making a sentence related to what they see. For higher-level students, it could be a story about what’s happening, or what may happen next.
If it’s a writing class, it could serve as a prompt for free-writing or something like that. It’s simple, and something that most teachers and students like.
#14: Dialogue Substitution
#15: The Alphabet Game
A fun warm up game for adult beginners is the A-Z alphabet game. It can be used to review just about kind of vocabulary from previous classes.
The way it works is that in partners, students write the alphabet down on a piece of paper. Then, give them a topic. For example, animals. Students have to try to think of one animal for each letter. The winner is the team with the most of them at the of the allotted time. For example:
A = alligator
B = bat
C = cat
F = fish
M = monkey
#16: Free Writing Time
If you teach writing classes, then you may want to consider this ESL writing activity that focuses on fluency. Students can bring a journal to class that is dedicated to this activity.
Then, at the beginning of each class, assign a topic and students have to write about it for 5-10 minutes. The key is that they aren’t allowed to use a cellphone or dictionary and must just write quickly! It’s simple but can go a long way towards improving writing speed.
#17: 5 Senses ESL Warmer Activity
#18: Talk Show Icebreaker
If you’re looking for a fun and engaging icebreaker introduction activity, then look no further than talk show. It’s a nice twist on the usual icebreaker activities and is ideal for helping students get to know each other in a deeper way. Learn more about it:
#19: Steal the Eraser
This is a fun warm-up game for adults that’s ideal for reviewing material from previous classes. It’s engaging, interactive and works best for beginners. Find out more about this ESL warm-up game right here:
This also makes a nice classroom spelling game, if you require that students spell the word out instead of just saying it.
#20: 120-90-60 Speaking Activity
#21: 2 Truths 1 Lie Game
Try out one of my favourite ESL warm-up activities that is engaging, student-centred and fun. Students have to write down three statements about themselves—two are true and one is false. The other students have to ask questions to try to uncover which one isn’t true.
Try out one of the best ESL warm-ups today:
#22: Running Dictation
#23: A Quick Debate
A nice warmer activity for higher-level students is to have a fun debate. The key is choosing a great topic! Here are some of the best ones to consider:
#24: Vocabulary Guessing Games
I’ve been busy making these warmer vocabulary quizzes for my students. Yours may enjoy them as well! Here’s just one example:
ESL Warm Up Activities FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about using ESL warm up activities and games in classes. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What is Warm Up in Teaching?
A warm up in teaching is an activity at the beginning of class that’s used to warm up the learners. A warmer is ideal to use before jumping into the heart of the lesson because after doing it, students will be ready to learn the important things. You can also use warm ups when teaching to review material from previous classes.
How do you warm up an English lesson?
Whether you teach children or adults, beginners or advanced students, you’re going to want to use a warm up in an English lesson. Some of the best ideas including fun games like board races, Simon says, world jumbles or scrambles, the hot seat, etc.
What is a warm up in teaching English?
A warm up in a class for teaching English involves getting students into the right frame of mind for what is to come later in the lesson. It can be a time to review past material, or introduce some new material in a fun, light-hearted way.
What is warm-up in a lesson plan?
In a lesson plan, the warm-up is the time at the beginning of the class set aside to ease students back into learning. The purpose is to focus attention and set the mood for the more serious learning that will happen later on in the lesson.
Do you Like these ESL Warm-Up Games and Activities?
Then you’re going to love this book: 39 ESL Warm-Ups for Teenagers and Adults. It’s filled with lots of warmer activities and it’s going to make your planning lessons easier, guaranteed. Start your classes off on the right foot!
Available in a Variety of Formats
The good news is that the book is available in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on your bookshelf to make your life easier.
Or, you can download a copy on your phone or tablet for planning on the go. You just have to get the free Kindle reading app. It’s an easy way to get some more ESL awesome in your life.
A Large Variety of ESL Warmers
There are enough warm-ups to use a different one every single class of the semester. It really is that easy. Seriously.
Easy to Use in your Class Today
Each activity starts with a brief overview so that you can see, at a glance whether or not it will work for you class. Then, it moves into a detailed, step by step explanation that starts with the prep you’ll need to do before class and then exactly what you need to do with your students. Finally, don’t forget to check out the teaching tips that’ll help you avoid the most common mistakes for each activity.
Order your Book of ESL Warm-Up Games Today
Sounds like exactly what you need? It probably is if you want to use some warmers in your classes today:
Why Use ESL Warmup Activities?
That’s a great question and we’re happy that you asked! There are a number of reasons why you might want to consider using a fun warm up game for adults.
First of all, they are perfect for generating some interest, or setting the context for whatever you’re teaching that day. When you jump into the heart of the lesson, usually either grammar or vocabulary, if your students have done a related warmup activity, things will go that much more smoothly.
The second reason I love to use an ESL Warm Up Activity is to review material from previous classes. Anyone who is learning a language has to see (and use) things multiple times in order for it to “stick.” Sure, students can work on this at home, but it’s also useful if you help them out with this in class.
So, mix things up and use a variety of English Warm Ups to either review material, or set the context for the upcoming lesson. Try it out and I’m sure you’ll notice some excellent results.
Tips for Using English Warmers
There are a few key things to keep in mind about using these English warmers. The first and most important one is that the students should be doing the hard work, not you. This means that you, as the teacher should strive to speak as little as possible. And, your students should be talking as much as they can. It’s through this that they’ll improve their language skills in a big way.
Secondly, don’t neglect a warm-up, thinking you don’t have enough time for all the important stuff. By doing a warmer, especially one that ties into the rest of your lesson, you’ll find the important stuff goes more smoothly and the students are able to take it in more easily.
Have your say about these Fun Warm Up Games
What’s your go-to ESL warmer? Or, what did you think about these ESL warm-up games? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. Also, be sure to contact us if you have any questions about teaching English.
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Last update on 2022-06-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API