two silhouettes of running figures passing a relay baton

Adapted from www.teachingenglishgames.com. Check out their website to find other great suggestions for games for the ESL classroom!

Purpose:  Review grammar, vocabulary, or sentence structures and practice writing by using fill-in-the-blank worksheets to create a dynamic team game.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes

Materials Needed:  Several copies of a worksheet, blank pieces of paper


picture of a paper with sentences and pictures written on it

Purpose:  A super fun game that is guaranteed to generate a lot of laughter and gives learners a chance to practice writing in a low pressure setting.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  1 piece of blank paper per learner


Screen shot of Walking Dictation youtube video

New resource for teachers and tutors! Now you can watch a video of this activity and print a PDF of the instructions at http://mnliteracy.org/classroomvideos. If you are unable to click on this link from your email, view this tutor tip on the Minnesota Literacy Council website to access this link.

Purpose:  To reinforce vocabulary and grammar structures in an active and participatory context.

Preparation Time:  5-10 minutes                              

A blue W with hands, feet, and a smiling face

Purpose:  A wrap-up activity that gives learners a chance to reflect on what they learned during the lesson and think about how they will use what they learned outside of the classroom

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  None


  1. Students think about their responses to the following prompts and write their answers independently on a piece of scratch paper:

What did we learn today?

Clip art image of the back of a postcard with a stamp

Purpose:  To practice and review vocabulary, develop writing skills in a low-pressure and fun way.

Preparation Time:  None

Materials Needed:  3x5 index cards, or papers cut to a similar size


1.       Together with the students, generate a list of vocabulary from the current lesson or unit and write it on the board.

2.       Have the class brainstorm a list of different topics that they could write about that could include the vocabulary. Encourage them to be creative.

A class of beginning level adult ESL students read together off of the board

Adult ESL Training Videos

Looking for some free, high quality videos about teaching English to adult immigrants? New American Horizons offers twelve free videos of teachers working in classes with ESL students. The videos include numerous activity ideas as well as classroom management and teaching methodology recommendations. All of the videos are available on their site: http://www.newamericanhorizons.org/training-videos. Many of the videos are of teachers and learners right here in Minnesota! 

The cover of the new book Journeys: An Anthology of Adult Student Writing, 2016

Journeys 2016: An Anthology of Adult Student Writing will be available on May 26! In its 27th year, Journeys 2016 collects and showcases short written pieces by 600 Adult Basic Education learners from every corner of Minnesota and from more than 60 countries of origin. Their written pieces are personal, humorous, tragic, and inspirational.

Picture of numbers 1 through 10

Purpose: Building numeracy skills and practicing the spelling of numbers while reading information from a table

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Materials needed: whiteboard, several pieces of paper


1. Prepare a poll question.  Choose something related to a class theme or an issue currently being discussed in class.  The question should yield a division of the students.  Example: “Do you like        winter?”

pencil inside a circle

Many classes are wrapping up writing assignments to submit their writing to be published in Journeys in time for the February 1st deadline. What can a tutor do to support a student who is working on a writing task?

job application

Sooner or later every adult ESL class will come around to a unit about filling out applications or forms. There are quite a few activities to give students practice with using them.



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