Are you looking for a fun, interesting activity to do in your English classes? You’ve come to the right place! You’ll learn all about why ESL surveys and questionnaires are amazing, along with how to set them up in your classes. Keep on reading for everything ESL questionairres.
Let’s get into everything about ESL surveys for students.
ESL Surveys: One of my Favourite 4-Skills ESL Activities
Surveys are one of my favourite ESL activities and I use them at least once a month in my classes. I love them for the following reasons:
- They cover all 4-skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).
- They’re student-centred to the extreme. The teacher just has to set it up and then the students do all the hard work.
- They are great for sleepy classes because students have to get up out of their seats and move around the classroom.
- Surveys encourage follow-up questions, which most students are usually quite weak at.
- They can be adapted to just about any topic or grammar point. Just get creative!
- Surveys encourage students to interact with as many other students as possible.
- They’re fun and most students seem to really enjoy this activity.
- You can use them for follow-up too!
- They are the ultimate ESL activity for big classes and in fact, the bigger the better! I only use them in classes that have 16+ students (12 is the absolute minimum).
- They’re ideal for students who need some practice with yes or no questions.
In short, they are kind of the best thing since sliced bread if you’re an ESL/EFL teacher. Try them out in your classes today and I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I do. They are one of the best resources for adult students.
How to Use ESL Surveys and ESL Questionnaires
It’s really easy to use them in your classes. I most often use surveys at the end of a class to provide a bit of a review of the day’s lesson. They’re excellent for the end of class because the time required is pretty flexible and they can be cut short or lengthened depending on your needs.
How to Set Up an ESL Questionnaire
- Print off enough copies of this Dependent Clause Survey (1 per student) if it’s suitable for your class. If you’re doing another topic or grammar point, use this as a template to make your own. It’s really easy to adapt surveys to just about anything.
- Give one copy to each student and draw an example one on your whiteboard.
- Do two example questions. One where you ask a student a question and one where another student asks you a question.
- If the answer is, “No” you have to choose another question and don’t do any writing. The ultimate goal is to fill up the chart with different people who all answered yes to one of the questions.
- If the answer is, “Yes” you have to write the name in and ask 1-2 follow-up questions. Then you use the extra information box to briefly record the answers to the follow-up question(s). Of course, the answers should be written in English, although full sentences aren’t necessary.
- Find a new partner and continue with another question, trying to find someone who answers “yes” to something.
Follow-Up After this ESL Survey for Students
When the activity is done, I’ll do a few different things. Sometimes I’ll ask if the students found out any interesting or unusual answers. I’ll elicit a few of them and have short conversation with the student who gave that answer.
Or, I’ll choose one or two questions that I know many students wouldn’t be able to answer and ask who was able to answer yes. For example, has a part-time job, or a twin. Then, I’ll talk to that person quickly to find out the details.
Finally, I’ll usually grade the class on how well they did. I’ll say something like:
“I noticed that many of you were speaking in Korean! Remember that this is an English class, so next time, I hope to hear a lot more of that.”
“Many of you did a very good job, but I noticed that some people didn’t talk to anyone 1-1. Remember that the goal is to practice having a conversation, so please talk 1-1 with another student.
ESL Survey Ideas
Of course, you can also use an ESL survey for a lot of other topics besides dependant clauses! There are a ton of ESL questionnaire ideas that you might want to consider trying out. I’ve used them successfully with:
- Healthy eating
- Have you ever…
- Introduction/icebreaker for the first day of class
- Around the house
- Almost anything can make an interesting survey topic!
You can see these survey ideas here: Top 6 Surveys for ESL Students.
Of course, you can also make your own and there are a ton of interesting survey topics. It takes only a few minutes to do this.
But, where to find questions to ask ESL students? Look in the textbook for the unit you’re making a survey for and you’ll often find almost everything you need in there, in the dialogue, listening, reading or practice parts.
Quick tip: make sure you do them in Google Drive, or something similar. This will allow you to save them from year to year if you’re using the same textbook.
Or, something like the introduction survey can be used in just about any class. You may just have to adjust it a little bit depending on the level of your students.
What about an ESL Introduction Questions Survey?
That’s a great question and we’re happy that you asked. I like to mix it up from semester to semester what I do on the first day of class, but I’ll often start off with an introduction questions survey of some kind. The way it works is that students have to find another student in the class who matches the criteria by asking them some questions.
For example, students may have to find someone who…
- Is in their third year of university
- Isn’t from this city
- Has more than 1 sibling
- Has two or more pets
- Lives with more than 5 people at their house
- Has a twin
I usually adapt the questions depending on the class so that many, but not all students will be able to answer each question. You can find out more details about this survey icebreaker activity right here:
Did you Like this ESL Survey Activity?
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You can get the book easily on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The (cheaper!) digital version can be easily downloaded onto any device by getting the free Kindle reading app. You could also keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use a handy reference guide when planning your lessons. It really is that easy.
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It’ll make your lesson planning easy, guaranteed. If it doesn’t, get in touch with me and I’ll personally refund your money.
Surveys for Business English or Advanced Level Students
If you have higher-level, intermediate or advanced ESL students, then you may want to try out this survey activity. It’s more what you would think of as a traditional survey. Here’s what you need to do.
Put students in pairs and have them think of 2-3 topics which people would have differing opinions about (current events work really well). Some examples include:
- Raising the minimum wage
- Subsidies for farmers
- Increasing taxes on cigarettes
- Raising the minimum drinking age
Each pair chooses one topic and then thinks of 2-3 questions about that topic, as well as some possible follow-up questions. Then, they have to stand up and survey at least 6 of their classmates. One person is the interviewer and the other one is the recorder.
This usually takes 15-25 minutes. In the end, students look at their results and find some general trends. Then, they report their results to the class in 3-4 sentences.
For more ideas, have a look here: Business English ESL.
More Student-Centred Language Teaching
Surveys for English learners and ESL questionnaires are one of my favourite student-centred activities. They’re ideal because the students are doing the hard work, not you! You can learn more about this style of teaching in a short video below:
ESL Questionnaires FAQs
There are a number of common questions that people have about using ESL surveys. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.
What topics should I use for an ESL questionnaire?
ESL questionnaires are extremely versatile and can be used for just about any topic, grammar point or vocabulary set.
Are ESL surveys a 4-skills activity?
Yes, surveys are a 4-skills ESL activity. They cover reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a single activity.
Where can I find ESL surveys?
It’s possible to find ESL surveys online or in many of the popular textbooks or accompanying teacher books. You can also make your own quite easily in just a few minutes once you get a bit of practice with it.
How long do ESL surveys take?
The minimum amount of time an ESL survey takes to explain it, do the activity and then follow-up is about 20 minutes. 30 minutes is a better amount of time, however.
Have your Say about Using an ESL Survey for Students
What do you think about ESL questionnaires? Do you use them in your classes or want to get started with them? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API