Filler Activities For The ESL Classroom

You are ready to dismiss your students from class, but have a few minutes left. What can you do?!

Try these activity fillers with your class!

Twenty Questions

Do you remember car trips as a child playing twenty questions in the back seat? You think of a person or object, and your siblings have twenty opportunities to ask yes/no questions to determine what object you are thinking of.

This is an easy and short activity for you to do with your ESL class when you have a few minutes to spare. The first time you play, your students will need specific direction as to the types of questions to ask.

Pictionary

No matter what you are currently studying in class, you most likely have a list of vocabulary your students need to learn. When that is the case, a few minutes at the end of class is an excellent opportunity for either of these two vocabulary revision activities.

Pictionary is a great activity for students to review vocabulary and to show their creativity.

Charades

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The second vocabulary revision activity is similar. You can play a few rounds of charades with your students in a similar manner to the Pictionary activity. Use the same vocabulary cards, but this time have your student or students act out the vocabulary word rather than draw it.

Either you can have one person act out the word for the entire class or have two people act out the word for one half of the class. Sometimes I had the entire class act it out and had 1-2 students in front guess!

Write a story together

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With a few extra minutes, you can also have your class work together to write a communal story. Start with one sentence on the board. Have your students take turns coming up to the board and adding one sentence to the story.

Each person will be able to use his or her creativity to further the story, and the whole class can make sure the grammar is correct with each addition. The more often you do this, the more creative your students will become in their additions. It will be fun for your class to see just how crazy they can get and still keep a logical plot.

Why? Because.

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A game has the potential for some laughs with your students. Give each person two index cards or two small scraps of paper. On one card, each person should write a question that begins with the word ‘why’.

Then on the second piece of paper, each person should answer his or her question starting with the word ‘because’. Then collect all the why’s in one pile and all the because’s in another. Mix up each pile and then read one why card with one because card.

The combinations can be very funny, and then after reading all the random match ups you can have your students match the correct answers with the correct questions.

Would you rather

Would-you-rather

This activity is a good one for getting to know your students better. Keep a list of questions for your students starting with “Would you rather…” For example, you may ask, “Would you rather fly or be invisible? Would you rather eat ice cream or cake? Would you rather have a cat or a dog?”

You can be straightforward with your questions or be creative and out of the box. Ask your class a question and have your students move to one side of the room if they answer one way, the other side of the room if they answer the other way. Then ask random students on each side to explain why they chose the answer that they did.

Telephone/Whisper Down the Lane

Happy children whispering

This old-fashioned game can get new life in the ESL classroom. Have your students arrange themselves in a circle around the room. Come up with a long sentence yourself or have one of your students do it (check to make sure it is grammatical) and whisper it in the ear of the first student in the circle.

The listening student then has one opportunity to whisper it in the ear of the next student. The process continues around the circle until it reaches the last person. That person then says the sentence aloud to the class. You should then tell the class what the original sentence was.

Word Race

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This activity will increase your students’ vocabulary as well as fill time at the end of class. Start by writing a word on the board and tell the students that whatever the last letter of the previous word is, the next word must start with the exact letter.

For example, if the first word is “cat”, then the next word must start with a “t” such as “turtle” (the next being possibly elephant). Split the class into teams and have them compete to write down as many unique words as possible over the course of 3-4 minutes.

At the end, count up the amount of words each team has written down and see which has the most!

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