Teaching grammar is essential in ESL but is not always the most exciting for students. The TtMadrid team always has at least one trainer that is absolutely in love with grammar, but even they have found that trying to get their students to enjoy it as much as they do is no walk in the park. For us teachers, finding fun and engaging ways of teaching grammar can be difficult, because let’s be honest, no one enjoys endless drilling and worksheets. Here are top 5 ESL activities to teach grammar that will help you transform ‘’monotonous grammar’’ into ‘’enjoyable grammar’’.
We are living in the era of mobile phones so take advantage of the wide variety of apps and websites that are out there and introduce them in the classroom. Kahoot is an amazing app that can be adapted and changed depending on the topic, level and age of the students. It can easily be used for assessment, revisions or short quizzes and can be played either individually or in pairs/ groups.
The competitive aspect of the game will get the students really engaged and it is a great tool to easily increase the student talk time if the teacher decides to pair or group the students up. Kahoot is extremely helpful for both teachers and students as they can easily spot areas that need more revision.
Nothing increases energy in the ESL classroom better than music and dancing, and musical chairs is the perfect excuse to get your students out of their seats. Just arrange the seats in a circle, place cards on the seats depending on the grammar concept that you want to teach, play a song (this is a super funny one) and stop it whenever you want. The students have to sit down and follow the instructions given by the teacher.
You can use this for tense revision, placing cards with tenses on the chairs and having the students make a sentence using the tense they sat on, or even the other way around, having sentences on the chairs and getting the students to identify the tense they sat on.
It can also be used for modal verbs, having functions on the chairs and giving the students cards with modal verbs. They will have to sit down on the function that matches their modal verb and then make a sentence with it.
Songs and movies
As we’ve already mentioned, everyone likes music It can set the mood in the ESL classroom and it also helps the students have a better understanding of the culture. Chose a song depending on what you want to teach, it can be vocabulary, grammar or even phonology and play a part of it in class. Your students’ energy will increase in seconds. There’s another popular activity that combines grammar and listening activities. Get a song’s lyrics and remove words that relate to your class’ topic. Play the song and make students fill in the blanks as they listen.
Same goes for movies. This is a great idea for homework as well, if you encourage your students to watch a movie or an episode over the weekend and then write a summary or even have a debate in class about it. It’s a great way to practice vocab, grammar and it also helps your students improve their pronunciation and listening skills.
This is a great activity to play in the ESL classroom, especially since students tend to like standing up and moving around. Have your students sit in a circle, set a category depending on what you want to teach and throw a ‘’hot potato’’ to one of them. The student will give the answer and then they will throw the ‘’hot potato’’ to another one and so on. This is great for a revision or even as a practice activity, so categories can go from past simple regular and irregular verbs to modal verbs or even perfect continuous tenses. You can also have the student use the words in a sentence and time the activity for higher levels.
Everyone has at least one favorite actor, actress or singer so why not introduce them in the ESL classroom? This can be a writing activity, individually or in pairs, or even in speaking. Grammar concepts can be adjectives (comparatives and superlatives) or tenses such as past simple, present perfect or even a comparison of these two. You can have the students write a celebrity profile as a writing activity, act out a press conference or play a ‘‘who am I’’ type of game as speaking activities.
Going from worksheets and books to engaging activities is something that us ESL teachers should try to work on more, especially because this is something that students here in Spain absolutely love and are not very used to. The majority of the Spanish students simply want to be able to communicate in English, but we all know how important grammar is, so what better way to sneakily practice it and make ESL classes more interesting and fun?