Do you want ESL games and activities that are fun and entertaining, require little to no preparation, and challenge students in a way that gets them highly engaged in the classroom? Why not try incorporating memory games into your lessons? After all, students learn best when they’re enjoying themselves and playing an active role in the learning process. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when fun and engaging games require only a little bit of preparation on the part of the teacher.
Here’s a list of memory games and activities for your one-one-one classes that will surely spice up your lessons. Click here for my group class list!
1. Creating a Story
This activity, which works well in individual classes but also suits group classes perfectly, is a surefire way to stretch your students’ brains and imaginations. Since this activity requires students to provide complete, grammatically correct sentences, it’s an excellent way for students to review grammar topics such as subject-verb agreement and parallel structures in sentences.
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If you’re teaching a one-on-one class, you, the teacher, provide the first sentence (e.g., “Once upon a time, there was a student.”). The student then has to repeat the sentence and create their own sentence (e.g., “Once upon a time, there was a student. His name was Jack”). The student and teacher go back and forth, building the story until it has a logical ending. You can make this activity even more difficult by having a list of vocabulary or phrases, such as those you went over in class earlier, that need to be used at least once before the story finishes.
Possible Language Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement, Parallel Structures, Linking Words and Phrases
2. Sharing Facts and Trivia
The best ESL classes don’t only involve learning the English language; they also involve exchanging cultural information and learning about each other’s cultures. Sharing facts and trivia from different countries is a phenomenal way to ensure that students learn both the English language and become more culturally aware.
This one is similar to the storytelling activity mentioned earlier. The main difference is that this activity doesn’t require a sequence or an order of events, only random facts and trivia, preferably ones that are unique to your student’s own country. Here’s an example of this works:
Teacher: “The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog.”
Student: “The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog. The official language of Japan is Japanese.”
Teacher: “The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog. The official language of Japan is Japanese. The predominant religion in the Philippines is Catholicism.”
Student: “The official language of the Philippines is Tagalog. The official language of Japan is Japanese. The predominant religion in the Philippines is Catholicism. The predominant religion in Japan is Shintoism.”
As you can see, this activity hones not only students’ linguistic abilities, but also their intercultural knowledge and understanding, and this eventually leads to better interpersonal skills and relationships, which is what language learning strives to ultimately achieve anyway.
Possible Language Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement, Parallel Structures
3. Speech Memorization
That’s right! Despite the backlash that rote learning and memorization have received in the 21st century world of education, memorizing a speech word for word, whether it’s a readymade speech by an influential person or a speech written by the student, can accomplish all the language objectives mentioned above, plus give your student the opportunity to practice their usage of stress, intonation, and rhythm. If the speech is written by the student, this is a wonderful way for the student to improve their writing skills in addition to their speaking skills.
Unlike the other activities, however, speech memorization requires a great deal of time and energy on the part of the student, but with ample time, effort, and patience the student will see a host of benefits when it comes to their language development.
Possible Language Focus: Stress, Intonation, Linking Words and Phrases, Writing Skills
I hope you will try to use these activities in the classroom. If you do and they turn out well, don’t be afraid to get in touch with me by emailing me at email@example.com or sending me a message through this website (on the Subscribe tab). Again, be on the lookout for my upcoming blog post on ESL memory activities for group classes. In the meantime, have a happy and fantastic teaching week!