Languages › English as a Second Language Short Activities for the ESL / EFL Teacher Share Flipboard Email Print Caiaimage/Chris Ryan/Getty Images English as a Second Language Resources for Teachers Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated July 23, 2018 All teachers are probably familiar with this situation: It's five minutes before your next class is going to begin and you really don't know what to do. Or maybe this situation is familiar; you've finished your lesson and there are still ten minutes left to go. These short, helpful activities can be used in those situations when you could use a good idea to help get the class started, or fill those inevitable gaps. 3 Favorite Short Classroom Activities My Friend...? I like to draw a picture of a man or a woman on the board. This usually gets a few laughs as my drawing skills leave quite a lot to be desired. Anyway, the point of this exercise is that you ask students questions about this mystery person. Begin with: 'What is his / her name?' and go from there. The only rule that applies is that students have to pay attention to what other students say so that they can give reasonable answers based on what other students have said. This is a great little exercise to review tenses. The crazier the story becomes the better, and more communicative, the activity is for the students. Short Topic Writing The idea of this exercise is to get students to quickly write about a topic they choose (or you assign). These short presentations are then used in two manners; to generate spontaneous conversations on a wide range of topics, and to take a look at some common writing problems. Use the following subjects and ask students to write a paragraph or two about a subject they choose, give them about five to ten minutes to write: The best thing to happen to me todayThe worst thing to happen to me todaySomething funny that happened to me this weekWhat I really hate!What I really like!My favorite thingA surprise I hadA landscapeA buildingA monumentA museumA memory from childhoodMy best friendMy boss Music Description Choose a short piece or excerpt of music you like (I prefer something by the French composers Ravel or Debussy) and tell the students to relax and listen to the music. Tell them to let their imaginations run free. After you have listened to the piece twice, ask them to describe what they were thinking about or what they imagined while they were listening to the music. Ask them why they had those particular thoughts.