Warm Up Activities for ESL Students

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

Warmup activities can help you get your ESL students excited about learning, get to know each other, and learn some valuable language skills, as well. These ESL warmup activities cover all grade levels and can be used in teams or partners.

ESL Warmup Activities

It may sometimes be a challenge to get your ESL students moving and using their English language skills to converse and learn. These team or partner activities, designed for all grade levels, can help you provide fun, engaging skills practice for your students. Although there is a level listed, each activity can be adapted for other grades, as well. Adaptation ideas are listed at the bottom of each activity description.

Best for Elementary: Sing Along

  • Material: nursery rhymes or songs, audio and printed versions

A great way to launch class with elementary ESL students is to begin with a song. Depending on the age of your students, it could be something as simple as London Bridges or a more modern rendition of Baby Shark. Search the web for ''nursery rhyme songs'' to find additional ideas. Although the songs seem most appropriate for primary grades, they are excellent tools for learning. You can use these rhymes and songs to launch a longer lesson on culture and history, new vocabulary, the concept of rhyming, or common expressions and idioms. Providing both an audio and written version will help reinforce their visual understanding of the language. Partner students to read through the lyrics of the song aloud before singing or reciting it again.

  • Modify this activity for older students by adding a challenge that they come up with their own version of a nursery rhyme by adding a modern twist or integrating some of their home language into the song, as well.

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