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ESL Alphabet Games for Adults

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Adult ESL students will encounter many situations in which they need to able to manage the alphabet. This lesson provides games to practice with the alphabet in contexts, some which relate to daily life.

Alphabet and Spelling

Our adult ESL students often do not know the alphabet. However, they likely have already been in situations when they needed the alphabet. Ask them about it and give an example of your own. For instance, tell them about the last time you had to call the customer service desk of your bank and you had to spell your name, last name, etc.

To demonstrate the importance of knowing how to use the alphabet, get your students to list a few situations in which they need the alphabet. With this introductory activity, your ESL students are now ready for a few alphabet activities.

Fun Alphabet Activities

Although our adult ESL students should know the alphabet before doing any of these activities, it doesn't hurt to check one more time before beginning. This way, you make sure that no one falls behind due to not knowing some letters or, perhaps, the whole alphabet. You can say the alphabet aloud along with your students. Also, your class can take turns saying the alphabet in order with each student saying the correct letter in turn. Now, let's look at some activities that your students can do to practice the alphabet.

The Correct Order Challenge

This activity is great to practice the correct letters of the alphabet in order. Give your students a sheet that contains a table like the sample with the letters of the alphabet in incorrect order and two blank cells to keep the rows even. The challenge for your students is to say the alphabet aloud in the right order while pointing at the correct letter as they read it. To avoid putting one student on the spot, you could have students working in pairs. This way, student A reads the alphabet in the correct order while student B times student A. Then, it is student B's turn to read the alphabet. The student in the class who takes the least amount of time is the winner.

Here is how the table would look:

K O - C
I B Y G
P T W J
E - A M
D Z Q V
H U S L
R N X F

Spell English Names

This activity not only gets your students practicing the alphabet. It also gives them practice with some spelling and helps familiarize them with some English names. Your students can work in pairs. Give each pair a list of English first names and another list of last names, neither of which is in alphabetical order. Students who have the first names list begin by spelling out loud the first name on the list to their partners, who must write the name spelled as they heard it. Then, the students who have last names spell the first one on the list for their partner, who also writes the name they hear.

Let's say the first name on the list of first names is Britney and the first name on the last names list is Henderson. Student A would spell: B R I T N E Y and student B would write it down. Then, student B would spell: H E N D E R S O N and student A would write it down.

At the end, students can put in alphabetical order all the fist names they have and then all the last names they have.

Find Objects for the Alphabet

Your ESL adult students can enjoy getting out of the classroom and walking around the school. Their goal for this activity is to find an object for each letter of the alphabet. They can begin inside the class before going outside. They return to class once they have completed their goal, which they would share with the class saying the letters in alphabetical order. For example, a for alarm, b for book, c for car, etc.

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