There Is & There Are Speaking Activities for ESL Students

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

These activities help ESL students to work on correct usage of the phrases 'there is' and 'there are.' The activities include individual, pair, and whole group work and can be adapted for a variety of age groups.

There Is vs. There Are

For the many students in our schools who are learning English as a second language, there are numerous small grammatical details that make a significant difference in their spoken language. Speaking fluently creates opportunities for people, so as teachers of ESL students we want to help them develop natural speaking patterns. One tricky grammar concept is when to use there is versus when to use there are. These activities can be adapted to help ESL students of various ages practice there is and there are.

Activity: I Spy

Objective: Use there is and there are appropriately.

Materials: None

  • Seat students in a circle.
  • One student looks around the room, chooses a mystery object, then gives a clue starting with either there is or there are. For example: ''There is something with blue and green stripes,'' or ''There are two purple items.''
  • Other students take turns guessing until someone figures out the mystery object. Each guess should begin with there is or there are (i.e., ''There is a blue and green striped jacket on the hook.'')

Activity: There Is/There Are Collage Sort

Objective: Correctly use there is and there are for singular and plural objects.

Materials: Magazines/calendars/catalogues, scissors, glue, paper

  • Students draw a line down the center of a piece of paper and label one side ''There is. . .'' and one side ''There are. . .''
  • Students look through the magazines and cut out pictures that are appropriate for each side.
  • Students glue each picture and label it in a complete sentence beginning with there is or there are. For example:
    • Student cuts a picture of a mountain, glues it under ''There is. . .'' and writes: ''There is a mountain.''
    • Student cuts a picture of three trucks, glues it under ''There are. . .'' and writes: ''There are three trucks.''

Sample There Is/There Are Collage
there is there are collage

  • Students take turns presenting their collages to the class and reading their label sentences.

Activity: Alphabet Game

Objective: Correctly use there is and there are.

Materials: None

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