Top 10 ESL Activities for Big Classes

Top 10 ESL Activities for Big Classes


I love large classes of 20+ students! They used to terrify me when I first started teaching in Korean universities. However, as the years went by and I figured out how to manage them, I liked them more and more. These days, I actually prefer a class of 20 to a class of 1 or 2.

Large ESL classes of 20 students or more can be a bit difficult to teach English to if you don’t have a lot of practice with them. Another problem is that it can be hard to come up with games and activities that will work with a big crowd. However, help is here! Read on for my top 10 ESL activities for big classes. Most of them will work for children as well as adults.

Top 10 ESL Activities for Big Classes

ESL Activity for Big Classes #1: Is that Sentence Correct?

Is that Sentence Correct? is a sneaky way to get your students focusing on English grammar. The best part about it is that you can use this activity with 1 student or 100! It’s also very easy to adjust the activity from beginner to advanced.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #2: Videos in the ESL Classroomvideo-in-classroom

Videos can be a great tool to use with large ESL classes. They are interesting, motivating and engaging for most students. There is also a wide variety of activities you can do along with them.

Check out this post for some ideas about how to use videos in the ESL Classroom. There are lots of ideas for pre and post video-watching.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #3: Presentations for ESL Students

Presentations for ESL students is another excellent activity to get your big ESL classes doing. Task-based learning, especially if students are able to choose their own topic is a great way to make learning more memorable. In large classes, simply put students into groups of 4-6 instead of by themselves or in pairs.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #4: Concentration

Concentration memory game

Concentration is a fun game to help your students review vocabulary. There are different ways to play and you can match words-definitions or words-pictures. It doesn’t matter how big, or small the class is because you students can play in pairs or in groups of up to five. This is an excellent activity for beginners or intermediate students and children especially love to play it.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #5: Just a Minute

Just a Minute is a great warm-up activity for higher-level teenagers or adults. They idea is that students have to speak about a certain topic for an entire minute without stopping. You can also make it interactive by having a partner or group members ask follow-up questions based on what that first student said.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #6: Reading Activities

Reading is a great activity for bigger classes because it can be done individually without a lot of guidance from the teacher. Check out this ESL Reading Lesson Plan Template for how to conduct one of these lessons the CELTA way.

ESL Activity for Big Classes #7: ESL Surveys

ESL Surveys are one of my favourite activities for big ESL classes and they actually don’t work that well with fewer than 10 students. Surveys are great because they’re entirely student-centred and they also cover all 4-skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking). Students usually really enjoy talking to lots of their classmates too!

ESL Activity for Big Classes #8: Board Games

Board games are a natural choice for large classes of ESL students because you can break up any number of students up into groups of 3-5. It’s student-centred teaching all the way! The other reason that I love using board games in the ESL classroom is because you can make one for just about any topic. Students love them too!

ESL Activity for Big Classes #9: Running Dictation

Running Dictation is a fun activity that children as well as adults love. It gets your students up and out of their seats and can really energize a lethargic class. Running dictation also makes a great warm-up activity for that Monday morning 9am class!

ESL Activity for Big Classes #10: Odd One Out

Odd One Out is an excellent ESL warm-up game to review vocabulary for small or big ESL classes. You put students into pairs and they compete against each other to add an element of fun to it.

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  1. Pingback: ESL Surveys and Why I Love Them - ESL Activities: Saving YOU Time, Guaranteed

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