advanced ESL


  • gives students practice with reading comprehension and using prior knowledge to make sense of a text
  • helps with vocabulary development
  • provides opportunities for one-to-one interaction and cooperative learning.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes once story has been selected; longer if you need to type up the story

Purpose:  To help learners become familiar with the state of Minnesota and to work on map-reading skills.

Prep time:  variable

Materials:  Each student or small group of students will need a fairly current highway map of Minnesota; other examples of maps might also be useful, e.g. city or neighborhood maps to show; a U.S. map is also required

Purpose: This writing activity gives learners a built-in audience and a way to share personal experiences through writing.  It can be a fluency activity, so you won’t focus on grammar, syntax or spelling, and instead focus on meaning.  Or it can be an accuracy activity, with a focus on the past tense or other forms.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes to assemble materials, assuming you have everything on


Purpose:  To familiarize learners (low intermediate and above) with parts of a dictionary entry.  This activity would work especially well if a weekly spelling/vocabulary list is part of your instruction.

Note: Dictionaries are a great resource for tutors as well as for learners.  For example, the Longman Dictionary of American English defines words in simple language that students can understand.  It also uses each word in a sentence to aid comprehension.  Not sure how to explain a word to your students?  Check the learner dictionary!

Purpose: To add some fun to multiple choice activities

Preparation time:  5 minutes

Materials:  Index cards; markers; any reading or listening material with multiple choice questions

Purpose: To practice the use of “as….as” comparisons

Preparation Time:  5 - 10 minutes   

Materials:  none

Preparation:  Make a list of some commonly used “as…as” comparisons.  Think about how these examples could be modeled or demonstrated.  Use visuals or objects when possible. 


Talking About Independence Day

Purpose:  To give learners cultural and historical information about the July 4th holiday.  In addition, fireworks can be frightening for people who’ve fled war or other violent situations in their homelands.  Understanding what fireworks are and what the holiday is about may help reduce stress or anxiety.  

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Purpose: reading comprehension and scanning practice for intermediate/advanced level learners

Preparation Time:  15-20 minutes

Materials:  pens, paper, newspaper articles

Purpose:  to help students practice irregular verb forms so that they become an automatic part of students’ language

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials:  none

Preparation:  prepare list of irregular verbs to be practiced; the list is for the tutor’s or teacher’s reference only; start with a relatively small number of verbs and add on as proficiency increases.


Purpose: a writing activity for intermediate and advanced level students to practice descriptions

Preparation Time:  none, unless you need to collect the postcards first

Materials:  pens, paper and picture postcards



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