ESL for Adults

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Games for Teens and Adults to learn English? Really? Yes really!

Three resources for Teens and Two for adults

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ESL for adults and teenagersGames and activities are a great way of getting the English language out of the stuffy text books and into the vibrant real world of spirited entertainment. The sheer fun of diving into these games and activities will spark spontaneous conversation in a natural way, while the competitive side will improve listening and speaking skills as they are used in a meaningful context.


Teaching Teens and Adults English as a second language requires a different approach in teaching strategies than with younger children. Why?


  • Young children learn a language through curiosity and imagination.  Adults however usually have a specific reason for learning a second language so their motivation is different
  • In teens, young children’s natural ability to learn a second language starts to drop; adults have to work even harder
  • Teens and adults tend to focus on grades and achievements rather than learning
  • Academic stress and growing self consciousness can get in the way of productive learning
  • Different ways of learning become more apparent bringing challenges in keeping a diverse group interested and cooperative


In this age of games for adults, whether internet, gaming or sport the ESL Classroom Activities Book is an easy sell to seasoned gamers. Not only do many adults the world over enjoy games, but language games actually accelerate learning in a number of ways. Let’s see how...


green tick 1. Students benefit from different learning styles


What results you can expect

Using enough variety in the type of activity or game will bring different learning styles into play: auditory, visual, kinaesthetic and tactile. This not only benefits the student who learns predominantly from one learning style, but it helps all students retain information better.


Students learn more effectively because the activity grabs their attention and interest, so naturally they make more effort to concentrate and retain language. Games provide a way of linking language and activity so that both men and women can learn effectively in your class.


Students learn more effectively because the activity grabs their attention and interest, so naturally they make more effort to concentrate and retain language.


green tick 2.  Competition encourages positive participation


Games allow for the use of setting time limits on tasks, and using competition or races to increase student focus and give an exciting buzz to an activity that could otherwise be quite mundane.

Students get involved in the activity itself and are more inclined therefore to contribute in class, so even the shy students come forward to join in.


These ESL activities allow for students to work together in small groups in a highly structured way, yet giving them independence to practice constructively, in a supportive atmosphere, without the constant presence of the teacher. This allows your students to get the most out of lesson time, by spending it speaking English


As a Chinese proverb says, "I hear I forget. I see I understand and I do I remember."


green tick 3.  Games bond students and teacher alike


Learning through fun activities relaxes students, helps bonding between class members and with the teacher, and makes the classroom atmosphere more supportive for learners. 


It’s understandable to think that most adults are self directed, but put them in a context of learning a new language, it can make them uncertain and self consciousness. Games break down barriers and create activities where all participate and where teachers can offer encouragement for those less confident.


Beginners and lower intermediates in particular need a lot of repetition in order to fully absorb new vocabulary and grammar, and this can be done through fun language games.


green tick 4.  Less Prep time more fun time


Each game is described in detail with examples of how you can adapt them to suit your language needs. You can start using them right away in class.


With an abundance of great ideas for games and activities that you can adapt easily to practice any language point, you will never be at a loss if you finish early or suddenly have to take an unexpected extra class.


By using activities which require the students to prepare for homework, you cut down on your own prep time, and this also allows students to mould an activity to their interests, so they are much more likely to be motivated when it comes to the lesson.


How To get the best out of the Activity / Games Book


1. Do read the quick start guide

The introduction covers various topics from different learning styles, tensions in the classroom to unpredictable class sizes, discussing the most common difficulties teachers are likely to encounter. Well researched suggested solutions have been compiled by several experienced teachers who give you the very best of the benefit of their time in class to save you embarrassing yourself and to help your lessons go smoothly. 


The Teachers Tips are an invaluable toolbox of ideas and resource suggestions, however, that said most of the games don't need any printing or preparation, but for those that do, templates are provided with the bonus of saving you time.



2. EFL / ESL Games and Activities for All Levels


There’s a 6 step progressive arrangement of the games and activities, starting with listening and speaking drills and games to creative writing activities.


There are relevant games for all levels: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced


The beginners will use more of the drill type games to encourage accuracy and help them while they grasp the basics of English. There are also some easy fluency games which the beginners can use. The intermediate students will benefit from nearly all the games in the book and the advanced students will benefit in particular from all the fluency and creative writing activities, and will also find the occasional drill useful to iron out consistent errors or to review tricky grammar.


3. Be Adaptable


Adults come from all walks of life, Teens struggle with exam pressures so selecting activities that engage everyone can be a problem. There is a need to provide lessons on meaningful subjects that would interest them, but be prepared to switch activities with any changes in mood, or wandering attention. Luckily the Activity Book has a huge range of options here, so preparing beforehand with one or two different paced activities in reserve, helps you switch seamlessly.


However, it is absolutely vital that adult students know why they are using a particular game, what specific target grammar or vocabulary are they practicing, or what skill are they reinforcing by using the game. If students know and understand why they are doing a particular activity they will be much more inclined to cooperate and enjoy the learning.


A few last words for teachers from Shelley


One of the big problems with teaching adults ESL is that a lot of students who have attended years of language classes and even passed written language exams can hardly string a sentence together!


When I got into teaching, after my degree and TEFL qualification (teaching English as a foreign language), I certainly remember the massive amount of time it took me to prepare lessons, as I searched around to try to make lessons less dry. At one point I was using the Inlingua course book. For those of you who do not know it, it is like a grammar book. There are no pictures or texts, just the grammar point you must teach that day, and the teacher basically has to make up a lesson around that. It was a lot of work and initially it took a lot of thinking come up with fun ideas that related to the grammatical point in hand.


The other big problem teachers have is the almost imperceptible progress students seem to make from one week to the next. You may only see your students once a week and by the time they come back for the next lesson they have forgotten it all! 



When this happens it could mean that your lessons are not that good and the students are not that motivated so they certainly will not take a few minutes in the week to go over vocabulary or language as revision.



Although teachers are usually doing the best that they can with the resources that they have, this kind of ordinary teaching is a plague and it should be wiped out!  Today there is no excuse to teach in an ordinary way. 



Teachers are important people, they are leaders who inspire others to be creative and move forward through life to new goals, jobs and possibilities. Therefore, we have to take our role seriously and give it everything we have got. If we do that we will earn the love and respect of our students, and that gives you a warm glow, the sort of thing that makes life worth living.



Order the classroom games and activities here:

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I promise you these ESL games and activities are thoroughly tried and tested and for teaching English to adults, they really do work, as these teachers who uses my book say:

"A particular German student was quite offended at the idea of playing games during class time until she was shown that many of the questions (in the game) were taken directly from the test books she would have used on her own. She then became very enthusiastic and passed her Cambridge exams with flying colours." Carolyn Miller, Prior English Language curriculum developer for employees at NKK Corporation, Japan



 "I received the book and used it last week in my first week as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages! The critique from the school at the end of the week said that they were 'astounded' at how successful my teaching technique worked, the fun the students had (thanks to your book) and how far I was able to bring the students in such a short time.  My colleagues immediately asked for copies of the book... I gave them the link to PAY and download it for themselves! Thank you for your hard work, if you write a sequel please email me, I'll be your first customer (I hope!)"  Paul Tyler, Cert. TESOL, GCGI, CMI, MSM