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Teaching ESL to Children Using ESL Classroom Games

Aug 29, 2008
There are times of the day when special activities such as ESL classroom games are very appropriate. Although the daily school timetable varies from country to country, it is usual for children aged five to nine to have a playtime break during the morning. They stop for lunch around noon and return to class for a time during the afternoon. Regardless of the schedule, many will likely be able to stay on task until the first break but there will be some who sit and dream and others who disturb their friends. The class time directly after the morning break is good learning time. It's a good time for the teacher to introduce the more difficult parts of the program. The last half hour before lunch, however, is a tired, very low energy time, a time when ESL classroom games can help. The afternoon follows a similar pattern to the two morning periods.

We can assume that in most countries the school day has about three low energy times that everyone feels: children feel it, and teachers feel it. It doesn't matter if you are teaching the same children in an ESL class all day or if you are seeing them for a short period of time in an English Foreign Language class in their home country. These low energy times are the most challenging for teachers. ESL classroom games can help teachers and students learn through these times.

For children who are beginning to speak English, here is an ESL classroom game that you can prepare. Find pictures of things you have been talking about in the program you are using or in a magazine. Cut them out and you are ready to play!

ESL Classroom Game 1
Give each student a small piece of paper. Hold up one picture and ask one child to name it. (You might want to review the names of all the pictures you are going to hold up before you start.) If the child is right, let them have the picture on their desk for the duration of the game and stamp their small piece of paper with a picture or draw a star on it. If the student is wrong then put the picture behind the others in the pile. Continue with the other pictures. Pay particular attention to the children who are insecure. Ask them about pictures that you think they will know. As they gain confidence they'll be more successful. Sometime the fear of making a mistake overwhelms them. Another approach is to have the children answer in pairs. A good follow-up activity for this ESL classroom game is to give each child one of the pictures and have them draw it on their small piece of paper and print its name under it.

ESL Classroom Game 2
Give one or two pictures plus a small piece of paper to each student. They should all be given the same number of pictures. They are to listen while you say a sentence about one of the pictures. The student who has the right picture holds it up and gets a stamp or star on their paper of book. This can be followed by having them draw the picture on their small piece of paper and print a sentence or word about it.
About the Author
ESL-Storybooks.com is a resource site for teaching ESL to children, with original
ESL stories for young beginning ESL students.
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