Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Games, activities and teaching ideas > Starter activities    

Starter activities

United Kingdom

Starter activities
Nice, easy starter activity.
  • Put the students into 4 groups and label them: noun, adjective, verb, any other small words. 
  • Read a sentence. Each group just has to write �their� items. 
Example sentences: My school is a great place where you can learn about things and have lots of fun.
Paris is a famous city where you can visit lots of fantastic museums and also interesting galleries. 
  • Then they put the sentences back together again by reading �their� words in the right order.  
Any more great starters, requiring no preparation? 

5 Jul 2019      

United Kingdom

Nice idea, Lynne. For the last 10 years or so I have handed out my description cards. I might even have uploaded a couple of pages here. Obviously, a little preparation involved but once they are done and printed out, thats that. 
The cards are in reality small strips of paper with two words written on them. 
Sometimes they are synonyms, e.g. big - large, sometimes they are antonyms, e.g. big - small, sometimes they are false friends or words that give particular problems to the country in which you are teaching, e.g. really - actually, or currently - actually.
I have been doing this for a long time and I sometimes do these lists based on past lessons as a kind of small revision/warm-up to review the previous class.
There is a group of women I have been teaching for 10 years who increasingly want more challenging word-pairs.  I have had them describing things like hapless and helpless and I have had them describing words they dont even know by saying how many syllables and what they sound like.
Its my favourite activity and I have found it to be a great way of building confidence and fluency.

5 Jul 2019     

United Kingdom

Thank you for sharing, Dale. I do use your stuff.
Heres a meeting for the first time/getting to know you activity, a variation of I went to market and I bought... With this one, no memory test, though.
Teacher says: My name is Jeff (or whatever your name is). Im going to a party and Im going to take some jam... What is your name and what are you going to take? Onto the first student... When they give their answer, you say, No! You cant bring that, and continue. Go round the class; eventually someone will twig that the item has to start with the first letter of their name. 

7 Jul 2019     

United Kingdom

Another gem there, Lynne!  Thanks again.
When we used to do our camps for adults, we would use a post-it note, write a historical figures name on it and then stick it to somebodys head. This person would then ask people questions about this historical figure but could only receive the answers "yes" or "no." That one always went down pretty well with the participants.  

7 Jul 2019     

Antonio Oliver

Hi all,
Heres another starter / icebreaker activity; its called "Repeat if its true",which is self-explanatory.
Have a number of sentences prepared covering different grammar & vocabulary items, from simple to higher level. Ask your class to repeat what you say if its true in their case, ie you say "I am interested in music" and those who are will have to repeat aloud, all together -good fun for a first lesson, gets to know your SS a bit. You can pause the exercise at any time to ask individuals for extra information, then carry on with your list.

7 Jul 2019     


Something I used a lot when I was teaching was to hand out blank A4 sheets around the class and ask them to draw the head of the person opposite. They dont need to be artists but we will need to know later who it is so they must pay particular atention to things like glasses, earrings, hair styles, etc. Once done I collect the sheets and pick out one which I show to the class asking who is it? This is excellent for a first lesson to form the group! Once we all agree who it is, they have to ask that person questions in order to find out as much as possible about him or her. Then I move onto the next drawings. By the way I include myself in the game so that thay can ask me questions. In the next lesson I would pull out the drawings, one by one and ask the class to say who it is and what they can remember about him or her.
Another one for higher levels, was to ask someone to draw a quick outline of the country, for me it was France (can only be used for those teaching in one country) and one by one they come up to the board and mark where they were born and tell the class something about the town. This will the develop into other personal questions.

8 Jul 2019     

United Kingdom

Thank you guys. I love those ideas. Dale, I did that one with beginners so I did it with animals. Antonio, thats a good way of teaching a point of grammar, as well. Janet, I did that with drawing the faces! I used to use another one of yours... I cant remember it exactly. Its for more advanced students...They write something on a piece of paper (setting a scene) and swap it round, each adding something to make up a story.
 I�m teaching at a summer school. Its Tuesday of my first week and I am exhausted. 
Cat Lady 

9 Jul 2019     

United Kingdom

If any of you can think of a nice, relaxing, warm-up for my professionals tomorrow (bearing in mind they have been doing this intensive course for the past 4 days, 7 hours each day) I would be grateful. Its their final day, and I would like to energise their final few hours and see the poor dears have some fun.

10 Jul 2019     


Very nice ideas!! Thank you for sharing!! 
One of my now favorite activities is "miming sentences". If you have time you can make a list of sentences and cut them up. If not, just write them down and show them one at a time. I include affirmative, negative and questions. Sometimes, I use the tenses they have been learning, but most of the times I just give them funny sentences or vocabulary words for them to mime for their teams. They really enjoy this game. Some of the funny sentences could be:
A monkey escpaed from the zoo yesterday.
I love chocolate cake.
Will you marry me?
My friend ate 6 hamburguers in twenty mintues.
Did you see the fireworks last night?
Hes nervous because hes going to have an operation.
I hate watching TV with my little sister.

10 Jul 2019     


Thank you, Lynne, for starting this thread. Nice ideas, indeed. 

This game is for "I like...+ nouns" or any conversation! Its an easy way to practice some vocabulary and a question. Anything will do, but lets go on with "Do you like...?"

1. Teach "Do you like..?" and four bits of vocabulary (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, pizza, french fries).

2. Tell the students to stand up.

3. Get out a stopwatch and as you say "Go!" start the watch.

4. The students pair up. They say the following conversation:

   A: "Hello."

   B: "Hello."

   A: "Do you like ice cream?"

   B: "Yes, I do! Do you like pizza?"

   A: "No, I dont!"

   B: "Thank you."

   A: "Goodbye."

5. They change partners and repeat the conversation. BUT this time they ask about different food.

6. They find another partner. And again ask with different food.

7. Repeat again, and again, until they have used all 4 questions.

8. Then they sit down.

9. When the last student sits down, the teacher stops the stopwatch!

You can teach 4 or 5 words of vocab, do the game, teach another 4 or 5 words and do the game again. The students love to see if they can beat their best time. 

15 Jul 2019     


If someone is looking for more ideas, just look in Lynnes account, e.g.,
or in Teacher Les account, e.g.,

17 Jul 2019