ESL Surveys and Why I Love Them

Why I Love ESL Surveys


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.
  • ESL surveys 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!
  • ESL 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!
  • ESL Surveys 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).

In short, ESL surveys 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.

How to Use ESL Surveys

It’s really easy to use ESL Surveys 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.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Print off enough copies of this Dependent Clause Survey (1 per every 2 students) 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.
  2. Give one copy to each student and draw an example one on your whiteboard.
  3. Do two example questions. One where you ask a student a question and one where another student asks you a question.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Find a new partner and continue with another question, trying to find someone who answers “yes” to something.

Like this ESL Survey Activity?

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