We all know that it’s necessary to have a good list of ESL activities that need zero preparation and can be used in any classroom setting. During the summer in Madrid, you’ll definitely want to be spending less time prepping your classes and more time enjoying the pool or a sunny terrace!  In this post we’ll give you the Top 5 No-Preparation ESL activities. They can be used as warmers or fillers and will boost your students’ energy levels and increase the amount of student talk time. They are great ESL activities that practice, improve and review vocabulary.

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This is not a …

It’s quite difficult to get A1 students to speak because they don’t have enough vocabulary, but this game is great because it gives them the chance to practice the vocabulary that they already know and discover new words too. The way to play it is by having the students take turns and name whatever they want, coming up with a creative uses of the objects. For example, holding a pen they need to offer an alternative for what the object could be: ‘‘this is not a pen, it’s a straw’’. This adapts perfectly to their level because the only thing they need to master in terms of grammar is the demonstrative pronoun ‘’this’’ and the verb ‘’to be’’ in the positive and negative form.

This can be played with higher levels as well, such as A2 and B1, as they have even more vocabulary that they can use and it’s still challenging.


This is a great ESL activity for A2 and B1 students, as they get to practice vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling at the same time. The difference between the first activity and this one is that the first one gives them the option to name whatever they want, whereas the rule for the second one is that they have to use a specific letter to start the word with. The teacher starts with a word, such as ‘‘Madrid’’, the first student will say a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word, for example ‘’dinosaur’’ and the next student will say a word that starts with ‘’r’’ and so on. This game also checks how well students master spelling and pronunciation, as they have to understand each other’s words. You can make it more difficult for higher levels, limiting the words they can use to a specific topic: feelings, countries, food, etc.

This is a picture of …

This is a great ESL game that really gets the energy flowing as the students have to describe a real or an imaginary picture. The only thing you need for this one is a piece of scrap paper. They students have to pretend they have a picture on the blank piece of paper and describe it. For example, “This is a picture of my house in Galicia. The house is white and has a grey roof and there’s a black and white cat sat outside the door.”

This is an activity you can use with your B1, B2 and C1 students as they need to have a wide range of adjectives, adverbs and have mastered the past simple and present perfect tense. It can be used in group or individual classes and you could have the students play in pairs. The good thing about this game is that you can change the amount of detail that’s needed according to the level of the student.


Strangers in the train

This is an excellent game to practice conversation, so B2 and C1 levels fit perfectly with the idea and rules of the game. It can be played in pairs or small groups and even in 121 classes when the teacher gets involved. One of the students has to write a word, an expression or even a sentence on a piece of paper and keeps it a secret. The students start aconversation as if they’ve just met each other on a train and the assigned student will try to sneak in the word, expression or sentence in the conversation as many times as possible. When the time is up, the rest of the students will guess what it was.

Spin the marker

This is another creative ESL activity that only requires a marker, a pen or a pencil. The teacher will start a story, for example ‘’in a galaxy far far away …’’ and then spins the marker. The chosen  student will have to come up with a sentence to continue the story and then will spin the marker again, and so on. The final creation should have beginning, plot and ending. This can be used with B2 and C1 students as the activity requires a wide range of vocab and tenses.

We have a few more blogs that might help you fill in your list of ESL activities, so be sure to check them out. If you know more activities that can be used without preparation comment on our Facebook page to share it with others.