How to Make English Lessons More Fun

Fun English lessons

Countless studies have shown. that children, and for that matter adults, learn more effectively when they are enjoying themselves. This is true across every subject and English is no different. It is also perhaps the most cross-curricular lessons we could learn! Although not mentioned as much teachers also perform better when they are having fun as well. There is nothign but a little creatively stopping us all making our lessons more enjoyable for ourselves and our students. So ditch the flash cards and lets spend 20 minutes making our next lesson both more enjoyable and more effective for both our students and ourselves!.

Making English lessons enjoyable for students is beneficial on a number of levels. It can be achieved by introducing new and dynamic activities, considering their interests when planning, addressing multiple intelligences and learning styles and differentiating both the instruction and assessment methods.

We have links to games and activities you can try through out the article so look out for them, but lets look at some of the theory behind this as well.

Consider Your Students Interests

Fun English LEssons

Students learn better by connecting their interests to classes. If you are teaching English as a second language, do not alienate students who are from different cultures. Connect the lessons to their native tongue. If you are teaching native English speakers, you want the work to be authentic. Making up sentences and having students diagram them is not as effective as having them create the sentences themselves. Let students think about the topics that are of interest to them so that they can analyze their sentences and responses rather than someone else’s.

Pick topics that are relevant to them, from Dinosaurs to K-POP and incorporate it into lessons activities. Utilizing projects and project work allows them to take ownership of their own work and not merely reproduce a text book task. Motivation goes along way to improving work quality with young learners and by giving them the freedom to express their language on topics they enjoy you will get more than the typical ”write and email to a fictional cousin in Canada” task that has been done for years and years.

Follow the little and often approach and if you are the homeroom or classroom teacher why not run daily writing activities but short and sweet. We put and example in the table below which could be used as personal writing or even reproduced, privacy allowing, as a huge A week in our class display piece for your class.

Monday MusingsTuesday TalksWaffle WednesdayThursdays ThoughtsFriday Chat
On Monday, write about anything you have been wondering about. Write a short paragraph exploring their thoughts, wonderings, and expectations. This might be something academic they are having trouble with, or it might be something they have just been thinking about doing.Write about a conversation they have had in the past week. What made the conversation unique or special? How might you have handled it differently? Students can use conversations from class or their personal lives.Report on something wonderful that has happened in the past week. This will make the students have to think about positive things as well as the way they phrase things.On Thursdays, consider the things you are thankful for having or experiencing. This will make students think about their personal lives and what they are thankful for having. This might be something in the classroom, home, or for older students, work.On Thursdays, consider the things you are thankful for having or experiencing. This will make students think about their personal lives and what they are thankful for having. This might be something in the classroom, home, or for older students, work.

Using Movement And Dance In An English Classroom.

English Fun Lessons

Some students are kinesthetic learners. If you try to make them sit and listen for long periods, they will not retain the information. Movement can help students retain information more thoroughly. Sometimes, movement can increase heart rate and oxygen intake. This can help some students make better cognitive connections and of course its FUN.

There are hundreds, and I mean Hundreds of songs for classrooms and plenty of these are more than suitable for English lessons. From the polished and professional like GoNoodle to the Glorified PowerPoints and 1970s party songs, but no less effective, songs and movement are a great way to inject a little fun into classrooms.

There are also plenty of action and movement games you can use, the Action Alphabet is a great way to get children moving and teach phonics for example, but moving is not just for kindergarten and games like mill drills and speaking activities are great for adding a little movement into classrooms. We have a free download and article on Speaking games that has many MANY free games and activities that include movement. Check it out.

Let Students Talk to Each Other.

Student interaction can do more to teach English than merely lecturing and regurgitating information. One of the first things they teach teachers is to watch our Teacher Talk. ( we can go on and on and on!) Working with peers can be beneficial to students. One of the best ways for children to learn to speak is by speaking to children at or above their level. Consider a child who requires speech therapy. While he or she spends time with the therapist outside or in the classroom, the strongest students are taught how to interact with their peers.

Again we have activities on this on the link in the section above, but some of the better activities are our logic game ( make sure you understand it first! and our directions games.) Which involve the whole class walking about and talking to each other to fulfil a shared aim. However the yes no game (number 8 in the pack above) is my absolute favorite for both fun, thinking and effectiveness. If you try only one try that one.

Technology

EDtech in English

Introduce technology to help students with written English. You might choose to let your students read articles on websites like CNN, the BBC, or local news sources. You might also introduce social media that can be used only in the classroom. Edmodo, Bloomz, Class Dojo, and other platforms are often used for classroom communication. Educational technology can be invaluable for helping students learn English, and it takes the monotony out of the traditional English classroom.

And in case you thought we forgot, yes there are games, English is one area that seems to be doing reasonably well with the number of games out there. Again we have a large number of articles on online games, we mainly choose the free ones, that help both teach English and of course use fun to do so. We even make our own free online English Games which are hosted on the site and on Apple and Android.

The suggestions on those pages should make any lesson more fun!

Games

Games in classroom

Play games in the classroom. You can use word games and other “logical” English class games, but you can also get creative. Twenty Questions is a great game to let students think about the words and phrases that they use to ask questions and what those responses are to ask more questions. Another game could involve rolling dice to create a story. There are actually sets of these on Amazon that we use called Rory’s story cubes. If using numbered dice, make a different part of speech correlate to a different number. Ask students to create a sentence using at least three parts of speech from the roll of the dice. It must be a complete sentence, so they may need to add more parts of speech to create it.

We have games here too, printable and downloadable if you need. They can be played alone or in teams. You can re purpose classic board games to teach English as well. We cover that here and these are some of the ones we use at home and in classrooms

Final Thoughts

Get creative. Let students work with each other, use their interests, and play games to develop their English skills. Learning by worksheets and rote memorization does not allow students the opportunity to explore the use of language. The more they have authentic practice and experiences, the more the lessons will be retained. Let your students have authentic experiences more than teacher created ones.

We are called Making English Fun, and that’s what we do! Check out the rest of the site for many more options.


Recap of the article

  • Try to find and and use your students interests
  • Try to use multiple intelligences and learning styles to motivate as many students as possible
  • Look at varying your teaching, spreading it out over the week.
  • When appropriate consider using movement songs and even dancing.
  • Let students interact with each other, less teacher talk.
  • use both games and technology where it fits in your lessons.

Sources

The importance of games in an ESL classroom – Research gate

The effectiveness of games for educational purposes – Sagepub

The effectiveness of using games in English Language for the primary stage – Eric


About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

What Age Should You Start Teaching Phonics

Age to teach phonics

With Phonics increasingly being a mainstay of reading instruction it can be difficult to judge when is the best time to start phonics instruction with your children. As each year passes there seems to be more and more tips, tricks, advice and strategies to make sure your child has a head start. Phonics is important, I think so too, but with the rush to give our children an advantage are we in fact doing this opposite?

It is possible to introduce phonics teaching to children between ages 4 and 5. However phonics instruction is more reliant on the developmental stage of children. If a child knows of the names and shapes of English (alphabetic awareness) it is more likely they can process the different phonetic sounds.

However it is important to remember that while there is not a set age where children should be able to learn phonics, there are certainly right and wrong ways to introduce it. In many instances it is not how early you start but instead how effective you teach that will determine how successful you are in teaching phonics to your children. We have resources and workbooks to help you both for free and in our shop.

Kindergarten reading skills

So while there is no straightforward answer for what age children should start learning phonics. Creating a base for developing readers begins with reading to children. Phonics can be taught from the time parents start reading with their children. It may seem counterintuitive, but your child will begin to understand words and sounds from the very beginning. Children listen to songs with rhymes, mimic sounds and words, and learn to emphasize sounds. While this may not scream phonics education to many people, word and sound associations are the beginning of phonological awareness and phonics education.

What Skills Are Needed Before Phonics?

As we have already discussed, phonics is not as effective without phonological awareness. While your young child may not be familiar with letters yet, beginning phonological awareness can start as soon as reading begins. You can begin to emphasize rhyme, rhythm, and alliteration in stories. These skills are essential to phonics. Phonics is essentially a study of sound, so understanding sounds is vital.

These skills can, and mostly are, taught just by being a parent. Speaking, singing, reading with your children reinforces the aspect of language and sound relationships. We have a larger article on how to teach pre reading skills here that covers these skills in more detail. However in summary:

  • Instill a love of reading: read with your children often, show your enthusiasm for it.
  • Use their oral language during reading. Allow your children to retell a story, or predict what happens next.
  • Allow them to control the books, how to hold where to read from etc.
  • Sing songs – these introduce rhyming skills and fun into reading.

Why Start with Prereaders?

Why teach phonics before children even learn to read? It can seem counterproductive to begin teaching phonics to children before they begin to read for themselves, but much of phonics involves understanding sounds, rhyme, and relationships. While your two- or three-year-old may not understand letter sounds yet, he or she can learn to speak and listen for important sounds. Mind Champs notes, “Phonological awareness is learnt through singing, rhyming, and dividing words into individual sounds.”[1]

Teaching phonics does not begin with letter graphemes and their phonological sounds. On the contrary, it begins when children learn to hear and mimic onomatopoeia, rhyme, and alliteration. Children must interact with the sounds of words before being able to interact with the phonics of letter representation.

Phonological awareness is the base for phonetics education. Once children have gained the phonological awareness they need, you can begin teaching them phonics in a formal setting. Parents and teachers can take active roles in teaching phonics to children.

What Phonics to Teach First?

What phonics to teach first?

The first step in teaching phonics, and spelling actually, is teaching children the letter names. Without understanding the letter names, children will not be able to connect sounds and graphemes. Parents and teachers can work with children equally to teach letter names. One of the best places to start may be the child’s own name, as children know the pronunciation of their names and can connect the written letters of their name, as well. They have seen their names written on their cubby in childcare settings, on bookbags, or clothing. This tactic can introduce children to the beginnings of the world of phonics.

As a teacher in Grade 1 I would be happy if my students came in knowing that letters are sounds, and groups of letters can be different sounds, however if that isnt the case I and they are perfectly able to tach and learn this together. I sart with single sounds, move on to putting two together as a minimual pair (at, it, ot, ut, et) and then seeing if we can jump to CVC words.

If this doesn’t work or is two advanced I go back to individual sounds and work from there. One commonly used order of phonics, and the one we use in our online games, is the SATIPN order. Jolly Phonics use this as well. It give the children and students a set of sounds that enables them to make words very early on and therefore gives purpose to their learning as well.

The most important thing to do, however, is to teach phonics holistically. Begin with natural reading to your child or students. Focus on wordplay. As the child gets older, introduce letter shapes and sounds followed by sight words and exceptions to rules.

Keep Teaching Past the Basic Phonics Rules

Often, phonics instruction is limited when it should be expanded. Classrooms often skip phonological awareness and strictly teach phonics as the phonemes and graphemes and their association. However, the best programs not only start with phonological awareness, but they also continue with phonics beyond phonemes and graphemes. Developing an understanding of sight words, word patterns, and exceptions should also be of the highest priority.

What Age Should You Not Teach Phonics?

Despite the article above there is a case to be made with slowing down formal instruction and embracing a whole language approach during early years before drilling down into phonics instruction. I would agree, to an extent with this, I never advocate teaching phonics in isolation or for extended periods of time. Little, often and varied offers a much better approach. Decoding and phonics skills require a pretty high level of cognitive ability that just may not be present yet in younger learners. There should be a recognition that it may work for some students and not for others and the one size fits all approach that Education departments first tell us is wrong and then imposes on schools and teachers is outdated at best.

This shows that educators trying to do too much at an early stage can have the opposite effect of what they’re aiming for.

Jan Dubiel

That’s why, right at the beginning of this article, we mentioned that phonics should really not have a use by date at all but in fact should be a progressions from pre reading and print skills that need to come before it. You can read about those pre reading skills here

Final Thoughts

Phonics instruction begins with phonological awareness. This instruction can begin when you begin reading and interacting with children and words. Singing, rhyming, and alliteration build a strong foundation for phonics. Phonics then extends into preschool and early elementary school, but it does not end there. Phonics skills can be utilized far beyond early reading. There is no magic age to begin teaching phonics, but you should begin fostering phonological awareness as early but at an appropriate time as possible. 


About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

What Reading Level Should a Kindergartener Be At?

All though school years literacy and reading levels have great importance placed on them within education. A reading level assess what students are comfortably able to read and comprehend. For parents and teachers to have access to this knowledge allows them to choose, and help students choose, texts and reading material that is suitable for them.

A kindergartner should be at a reading level between 1 and 6. Higher reading levels indicate that they’re near the top of the range, Lower or pre reading levels at this age should not be of major concern as there is both significant time and strategies available for them to improve these levels.

In this article, you’ll also learn the following information about what reading levels and the levels a kindergartner should on average be at:

Kindergarten reading levels may feel like an urgent top-priority item, but it is not quite as big of a deal as it seems. Literacy is vital to children’s learning, but because children develop at different speeds they will also begin to read at different times. Children who have been in preschool or childcare classes are sometimes far ahead of children who spent their first years at home with mom. On the contrary, some stay at home parents know the importance of prereading skills and teach them at home. The parents who do not teach these skills are often unaware of how to develop these skills; they are not ignoring vital education.

Reading Levels Quickly Explained

There are several different measures of reading proficiency. There are dozens of programs that level readers for children. There are four levels, however, that are generally used in the classroom. Your school can tell you how to score the program you are using and how they differ from these programs if they use a different plan.

  • Reading Recovery levels generally go 0-60, .
  • DRA is also a popular program; it is generally scored from A-1 to 80.
  • Lexile scores range from BR, which means beginning reader up to 1360.
  • Flesch Reading Levels
  • PM Benchmark

How Can I Tell What Level My Student Is?

Teachers will assess student reading through a variety of tasks. If you are a homeschooling parent, your curriculum should be able to assist in leveling your child. However, most level 1-3 books have one line on each page, will contain simple sight words or CVC words that are easily decodable and the all the words are relatively simple. If they are not able to read most of these books with little to no help, they may not be ready to advance.

What Reading Skills They Will Learn in Kindergarten

In kindergarten emphasis should, but isn’t necessarily, placed on phonics and initial sounds. While similar to first grade there should be story telling and retelling between students and teachers, it is very useful to start to teach students the sounds of English as well.

According to Education.com, a Kindergartener will, at the end of the year be able to recognize letter sound relationships and even upper and lower case letters. This is the start of phonics instruction, if kindergarteners can have a good grasp of the sounds of English by first grade they will be ahead of the curve. We have plenty of resources to help with this here on the site.

Sight words, which are words that are learnt by sight not phonetically (for the most part) and often comprise of the most frequent words in English. It is best to start with the first 100 or so and then work upwards.

Print recognition and text familiarity will be taught in kindergarten. This means students will learn to distinguish letters from words and the direction that text goes.

Although the focus will be on reading and phonic skills there is also comprehension skills to be addressed. Kindergartners will learn and be able to explain character motivators and start to be able to relate these to their own lives. As they progress they will then go on to reading comprehension skills. These will come much later though.

Comprehension is key to student engagement. If you can open up the adventures and wonder that a good books offers to students they will engage much much faster. Kindergarten is a great place to start this journey.

What are pre reading skills

How Can I Help?

There are many things parents and teachers can do to help individuals improve their guided reading level. For starters, the more a child experiences texts, the better their reading skills will become. Read with your child and spend time letting them tell the story. Phonics falls in and out of fashion, but phonics, phonemic awareness, and phonological awareness all support reading and writing skills. When you are concerned about a child’s interaction with the text, explore their phonological awareness and phonics skills. Introduce texts at each level and work closely with your child or class with reading those words. At least thirty minutes of reading time a day is recommended. This time can be spent reading books on their levels, or you can read to them, but you need to ensure that they interact with the text.

Here are some pointers in the right direction to help.

  • Choose some material that your students and children are interested in. Even better if you learn a little about the levels we mentioned above you can creatively guide them to choose their own reading books and allow them to start to develop some autonomy with their readings as well. We have some leveled reading material aimed at young learners here.
  • Offer rewards and praise when suitable. Set aside time to read with your children, and make it engaging and something special. Parent children time is a precious resource and sharing a book together is a great way to spend it.
  • Reading skills can be taught with more than books: Take a look at some alternatives to books, (of course still sue them!)Try card and board games or paper activities as well. We have a selection of these also on the site and in workbooks.

Who Do I Seek for Help?

If you think that your child has a problem with reading development, you can ask for testing with educational professionals. The first thing you should do is request intervention for your child. Work with his or her classroom teacher to find out what they are seeing and if they are comfortable with the progress your child is making. In addition, you can seek testing through other professionals, but you may be responsible for the costs.

Most children will improve their skills over time and catch up

ANON

Final Thoughts

Children develop at different rates. This means that their reading level may also develop differently. You do not need to worry too much if your kindergartener is making progress but slightly behind. Most children will improve their skills over time and catch up. If they are significantly behind at the end of second grade, this may be cause for concern. Monitor your child’s progress. If they seem to be slowing down or stagnant, seek help from educational professionals.

Here is a recap of the information:

  • Kindergartners usually are between a 1 to 6 reading level DRA Reading scale.
  • There are multiple different reading leveling systems but all are fairly similar.
  • You can help your children by reading with them and sounding out simple words using phonics
  • Find activities games and resources as well as books to engage and give them a love of reading.
  • Let them choose books that interest them but are of a suitable reading level.

Sources and Further Reading

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

Is Listening to Music While Studying Bad?

I always listen to music when I study or am writing and sometimes even have a movie on in the background. I do it as i feel it both helps me and relaxes me. While the later may be true, the former appears at least in studies to be a wish rather than a fact.

Many studies have shown that music is often more of a distraction that a benefit. How much of a distraction depends on both volume and music style. Classical music contrary to popular belief is similar to other types of music in levels of distraction. Silence seems to be the best medium for cognitive ability.

This study has demonstrated that silence seems to be the best environment to maximize performance when engaging in cognitive activity.

Source

However listening to music while studying is neither always bad nor always good. Many students report feeling that they are more attentive if listening to music, but that is not always correct. Some people just feel more comfortable with noise, so they think it helps them study better. Music can be a distraction for many students. Some students, may however, fare better with a little background noise.

Students Who May Benefit from Music While Studying

There are some students who do benefit from listening to music while studying. In these circumstances, headphones or separate spaces might be a good idea so that these students do not bother others. Not every student wants to hear someone else’s music. If you are the parent, let’s face it, you do not always want to listen to your kids’ music. in a classroom if the song or music can be related to the topic you are teaching this may help I use phonics and English songs in my classroom but not at a level where it will impede and only on occasion.

Music Can Improve Mood

Just as any entertainment, music can improve mood. Some research even implies that music can improve cognition. Higher test scores may be associated with music listening. However, the jury is out on whether or not that is accurate and whether move improvement can help learning. Light music or upbeat music may help children focus or feel better about listening. Volume may be more of a impacting factor than music taste though!

Reduced Test Anxiety

Students who listen to music during study sessions or tests may find that they feel less test anxiety. If your child feels extreme test anxiety, he or she may benefit from music while studying. Most classrooms do not allow music during tests. However, listening to music before the test may help. We can use music to motivate of us in all manner of situations, its why film scores are so successful, however if this is going to help students turn that C into a B is not proven and teachers and parents should be mindful that it doesn’t turn the B into a C!!

Music Can Distract

Music can distract students from negative things happening around them. They can also focus more on the studying at hand rather than the things happening around them. This distraction is significant for people who are feeling physical pain, or have no choice but to study in noisy environments. Although studies have shown that it is likely that silence and focus is more beneficial to students studying, it is not easy to achieve an environment like this. If the choice is screaming siblings and grandmas television then perhaps some light music piped in through headphones is a better alternative.

Students Who May Not Benefit from Music While Studying

Not all students will benefit from listening to music while studying. Each student has his or her own preferred learning styles and behaviors. Get to know your student and his or her behaviors before making the decision to allow or ban music.

Music Can Distract

Wait, wasn’t this just listed as a benefit? Yes, it was. However, not every student can handle a little distraction. For some students, any distraction will take away from the task at hand. The distraction from negative things does not outweigh the distraction from studying. If this is true for your child, you may reconsider allowing music while studying.

Working Memory May Not Benefit

Music puts more words at the forefront of your mind. You may not retain the information on lists or events. You may not recall all of the things you have read or experienced if you are listening to music instead of paying attention. If your child has problems with multitasking, information recall, or event sequencing, you need to reconsider music while studying.

Reduced Reading Comprehension

While classical music or instrumental tracks can help with some reading skills, music with words or fast, loud music can decrease reading comprehension skills. Your child should not listen to popular music or extremely loud and raucous music while studying. It can have the opposite effect on their study skills.

Tips for Music While Studying

If you feel that you will benefit from listening to music while studying, you will need to follow specific tips. Not every music or sound is suitable for every situation. Here are a few things you can do to optimize music during study times.

Listen on Breaks

If you are not a prime candidate for listening while you study, take a break once an hour for a ten-minute music session. Breaks help your brain catch up with what you have been doing. They allow a few minutes for processing the information and properly storing it. A short music or dance break might be just what you need.

Listen to Classical, Instrumental, or Calming Sounds

Do not listen to music with words or pop beats. While these may be more fun to listen to, they can negatively impact your learning. Quiet music can relax a student, so listening to music that does not focus on words might be more suitable.

Nature or White Noise

Nature sounds and white noise might allow the same benefits you find when listening to classical or wordless music. Many psychology offices use this type of noise to distract from hearing other sessions and calm their patients. Many people also find that this type of noise helps them relax and sleep. As long as it doesn’t make you tired, it might be worth a shot.

Test both ways

Spend time studying for one test using music. The next test for the same class should be done without music. Determine how long you study, what recall is like, and how you do on the tests. You may find that while you like music while you study, it is not beneficial.

Final Thoughts

You need to determine what type of student you or your child is. You need to examine what studying with and without music does for the grades and attention. If you find that your child cannot focus with outside noise, get rid of the music. However, if your child listens and studies better with sound or music, by all means, keep it. Every person is an individual who will experience things differently. No two children will find that they need the exact same things. Trial and error will tell you what you need to do. Nothing is inherently bad when your child is still studying. Find what works best and work with that.

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

What Reading Level Should a First Grader Be At?

Reading levels FIrst grade

Throughout elementary and middle school, reading levels are a core component of education. The reading level determines what your child is capable of reading and comprehending. Knowing what level they’re at will allow you to practice with them to enhance their skills and figure out how they compare to the rest of their class.

A first grader should be at a reading level between 3 to 12. Higher reading levels indicate that they’re near the top of their class, but there’s always room for growth. In some cases, your child might fall below or rise above the range. Practice and proper tutoring will improve their reading level.

In this article, you’ll also learn the following information about what reading level a first grader should be at:

  • Basic details that determine reading levels
  • How you can help your child improve or adjust their reading skills
  • Reading concepts they will learn from the beginning to the end of first grade
  • Links to reading resources designed by teachers

What Is a Reading Level?

A reading level is a guide or resource that indicates comprehension, pronunciation, and clarity of a person’s reading. First graders shouldn’t be expected to read the same books as sixth graders, so it’s essential to go slow and steady while they’re learning new skills. This process should flow with the rest of the class, as you’ll learn in the next section.

As explained by Scholastic, there are plenty of reading level guides, including alphabetical, numerical and more. Here are the following reading level indicators: This is not a definitive list and its can be fairly confusing for teachers as well as parents. There are comparison guides, like the one below from real kids mag so that you can properly choose books across levels for your students. We are producing our own Free downloadable one for you as well this week. We have linked to one here but if you have a guided reading system of your own you should be able to find the correct comparison chart as well.

Many publishers use their own systems as well

  • Scholastic Guided Level Reading Program
  • Scholastic Guided Reading Lexile Ranges
  • CCSS Lexile Recommendations
  • DRA Level
  • PM Benchmark

Since it’s one of the most common methods, we’ll focus on the DRA Level today. As you’ve read in the introduction, a first grader should be reading between 3 to 12. It’s crucial that you remember they won’t be at a 12 right when they start first grade. The next section will detail what they’ll learn throughout the year to bring them as high on the chart as possible.

Note: While 12 is at the top of the list for first graders, you shouldn’t worry if your child isn’t there at the end of the year. It’s not a requirement until the middle of their second-grade year. If they’re already at a 12 in first grade, they’re ahead of the curve. By the beginning of second grade, your child should be around 8.

What Reading Skills They Will Learn in First Grade

Perhaps the most essential part of learning and reading in first grade is comprehension. Teachers focus on helping your first grader retell stories and understand what they’re saying rather than merely repeating what they’ve heard. For this reason, big words and long stories could prove challenging at the beginning of the year.

According to Reading Rockets, a first grader will learn how to break down long words and understand various sounds made by each word. Patience is key since English is one of the most challenging languages to read, even for those who speak it natively. Combinations such as ‘th’, ‘ough,’ and ‘sh’ will be taught throughout the year in a native classroom, in Second language it will be focusing on word construction with CVC and Blends.

Punctuation is another essential part of the year. Exclamation points, question marks, periods, and commas will be highlighted. Semicolons and colons won’t be taught until later in the year or during second grade. Your goal as a parent should be to help your child learn the four previously mentioned punctuations.

Another reading skill will be capitalization, pronouns, starting a sentence, and other capitalized letters will be explored. Remember that, along with punctuation, capitalization likely won’t be mastered until second grade. However, your first grader will be able to start understanding stories and sentences, opening the gates to inspired, entertaining reading sessions.

Once they learn how to comprehend sentences, they’ll start to engage much quicker. They might wonder why something is one way or another, and they could begin to correct sentences if they feel something is wrong. This is a crucial stage that you could help them realize right from wrong in the world of reading and writing.

What Language Will Books at These Reading Levels Contain?

During their first grade year, the language contained in books and stories includes three to four-letter words. They range from simple words like ‘the’ or ‘and,’ but they’ll lead to bigger words that could present a challenge. Remember to sound out each letter with them so they understand the variations of vowels.

Parents.com suggests asking your child questions about books, stories, and sentences that they’re reading. This step will cause them to think and build on their knowledge while comprehending what they’re studying. They also recommend engaging in predictions to get your first grader to dig deeper into the reading material. We have Comprehension workbooks to help with this.

Since first graders are guided towards comprehension rather than in-depth long words, they won’t have to learn too many words over four or five letters. They should take this year to practice their understanding of the basic concepts that form a sentence, including punctuation, pronunciation, and letter combinations, as mentioned in the previous section.

Here’s an excellent way to help them learn tough words:

  1. Break down every word into individual letters. If there’s a combination (sh, th, ough), separate it into its own chunk.
  2. Focus on words that they already know how to say. If they’re familiar with the word, they’ll be able to use contextual clues to figure out how to read it.
  3. Don’t study for too long. Short 15-minute study sessions hold their interest long enough to prevent reading from becoming a boring chore.
  4. Use the resources from school and online to supplement these skills. We have 1000s on our site for free and premium downloads.

How Can Parents Help Their First Grader Develop a Love for Reading?

Helping your child become an interested reader is one of the most understood processes in schooling. You don’t want to spend hours every day, or they’ll be overwhelmed and won’t retain most of the information. As you saw in the third tip of the previous section, short study sessions are the key to success.

Here’s a list of ways that you can help your first grader develop a love for reading:

  • Find reading material that they’re interested in. For example, if they love sports or cars, choose those books over anything else. It’s not the concept that matters; It’s the words found throughout the reading that makes a big difference. We have some leveled reading material aimed at young learners here.
  • Reward them for reading a specific number of words. They’ll begin to associate a learning session with enjoyment rather than a distraction from playing with toys or friends. Remember to read with them, so they don’t feel like they’re trying to learn by themselves.
  • Picture books can keep your child’s interest for countless minutes. If you stop reading after 15 to 20 minutes, they’ll be begging to jump back into the material.

All of these suggestions point to one fact: You can make your child love reading by finding out what they’re interested in and using it to educate and elevate their reading skills. Their reading level will naturally and gradually increase as the material becomes more challenging.

Finally

Now that you know where they should be and what they’ll learn, you’re equipped to help your child with at-home education. Some children can read and comprehend faster, so you might need to spend more or less time focusing on specific words.

Here’s a quick recap of the post:

  • First graders typically fall between a 3 to 12 reading level.
  • You can help them by focusing on challenging words and breaking down the meaning of each sentence.
  • Find books and stories that they’ll love to improve their engagement.
  • Use additional resources and activities to engage and inspire them

Sources

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

Can a Non Native Speaker Teach English?

This question is often asked by parents and aspiring non-native English speakers, and perhaps more worryingly thought by potential recruiters. There are thousands upon thousands of ESL and TEFL jobs advertised all over the world. These vary in quality, location salary and job role but so many have one thing in common. the vast majority ask for native English speakers, or passport holders of certain countries – invariably those whose native language is English. Now I am a native English speaker and as much as i don’t want to talk, or write, myself out of a job, to presume that a native speaker is the best teacher for every role is both wrong, short sighted and discriminatory!

Non native speakers of English make excellent English teachers. It may even be preferable. Teachers who have learnt English as a second language are likely empathetic to the potential struggles and problems of students, have better understanding of classroom language and are obviously at least bilingual!

So the good news is that yes, by all means, a non-native speaker can certainly teach English in the classroom, online or in a learning center. There are however, concerns that parents and aspiring teachers have. We will cover those concerns and the benefits of non-native English speakers.

What Are the Drawbacks?

Assuming there are drawbacks to learning from non-native speakers means that we are ignoring all of the benefits. However, since this is one of the most widely asked questions, we will visit any possible drawbacks to learning from non-native speakers.

Accents

One concern is that a thick accent from another part of the world might be challenging to understand. While this concern is understandable, native English speakers come from different regions of the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and other nations around the world. Accents, dialects, and speech patterns vary widely among native English speakers. There is little difference between a native and non-native speaker where this is concerned. Non-native speakers must pass the same examinations that native speakers must pass before becoming certified teachers, and they may even pass more examinations given TESOL, IELTS and other English proficiency exams.

English teachers of course must be able to be understood, as long as their accent does not impede that for their students it borders on irrelevance to request a particular accent. I have students with American, British and of course Chinese accents in my class, all of them perfectly understandable, and for the most part all understanding my British accent and their other teachers Chinese accents.

Outdated English Understanding

Because non-native speakers learned from another English classroom, the risk that their English is outdated. Some classrooms around the world are taught English using old or outdated definitions. In addition, they may be unfamiliar with figurative language and current slang trends. While native teachers can also be behind on trends, they will often understand most figurative language. This can, of course, be a concern in a native speaking classroom because the students will have an understanding that the instructor perhaps doesn’t have.

Just to be absolutely clear how this is not an issue that may solely affect non native teachers, I have two second language children in my classes who clearly watch YouTube, probably too much. They teach ME the new terms and slang now. This is how I learnt what the floss is and what ”bru’‘ means. Frankly two pieces of information I could probably do just fine without knowing 😛

Accredited Online TEFL

Stereotypes and Assumptions

The single biggest problem that occurs from hiring non-native English teachers is that they are the victims of unfair stereotypes and assumptions. The sooner we stop discriminating against people because we misunderstand what they bring to the table, the faster we can provide our students with the world-class teachers they deserve. The image of the blond haired blue eyed Native English Teacher should be put deservedly in the past. The assumption that somehow a native English teacher will do a better job is misguided at best. I have teachers in my school who can and do wipe the floor with me teaching grammar, its not my specialty, I am more skilled at phonics and reading, hence the website content and resources!! The best teacher is simply that, the best teacher, they may be native or non native.

Non-Native Speakers Do Not Know as Much English

The ironic truth is that many non-native speakers know more English than native speakers. This is because, in many university programs, these students are required to demonstrate their English proficiency with more in-depth examinations and course completion. They are often given more English courses, including ESL classes, IELTS and TESOL courses. Testing of English proficiency or TEFL is often required before graduation, and here in Hong Kong is a required for teaching certification. Native speakers may be able to produce language more fluently, even with more nuance and confidence, but depending on the level of students this could be a hindrance not a help.

Non-Native Teachers Do Not Know the Culture

One assumption is non-native teachers will not know the culture. This could not be further from the truth. Most non-native speakers have spent much of their educational careers studying the culture of their targeted country of employment. This is especially true when teaching in a large country. Not only do they study the country, but they also explore the region they’re interested in teaching. They sometimes know more about the history of the area than local residents.  

It also suggests that only ESL jobs are open to non natives, where they is a potential advantage of having Native English Teachers in schools and centers, surely logic dictates having local teachers whose first language is not English but the language of the country is going to be of HUGE benefit when dealing with students, admin and parents. I could not do my job with out help from my local teachers. My students may speak English pretty well, but it doesn’t follow that their parents, or my employer does and embarrassingly my language skills outside of my native language are pretty dismal.

What Are the Advantages?

There are many advantages to non-native English teachers. Once we eliminate the stereotypes and assumptions, we can begin to reap these rewards by providing more opportunities for non-native speakers.

They Know How Difficult English Learning Can Be

Non-native speakers have more recent interaction with the language as a student. They learn the language on a different level than most native speaking teachers. This learning experience means that they have more to offer children struggling. They have personal experience with the language and can offer new and different ways to learn that may be outside typical learning. They are also more equipped to help non-native speakers in the classroom. They can more efficiently help these students make connections between English and their native language. This is especially true if the teacher and student have similar native languages.

Empathy

In addition to understanding the way that students learn, they can also empathize with the challenges that children are experiencing. They will understand that learning a new language, even your native language, can be challenging considering the number of rules, exceptions, and nuances in any given language. Having experience learning English as a foreign or second language allows them to use their experience to plan and foresee challenges that their students may also face. To be transparent so can I, but that took me a year or two to gain through experience in a classroom.

Having experience learning English as a foreign or second language allows them to use their experience to plan and foresee challengesMarc ford

Demonstrate Good Habits

It can be difficult for Native speakers to scaffold their communications to their audience. While this is not necessarily true, we can see in our everyday speech how we let endings slip, use poor sentence structure, and use non-standard verbs. However, non-native speakers are much more likely to use better grammar and structure because they have not developed bad habits. They are much more likely to use classroom English because they learned in the classroom more recently.

Jobs For Non Native Speakers of English.

We mentioned above that there are so very many of jobs out there for native speakers, and those from Native Speaking countries, but there are more and more opportunities appearing. This certainly could do with speeding up but progress is progress. Teach Away have researched companies who hire Non Native speaking teacher and its worth checking out here.

Final thoughts

Native English teachers can be fantastic educators. On the other hand, non-native teachers can be invaluable in the classroom. Non-native teachers face many unfair stereotypes and assumptions, but given the opportunity, they can be more motivating, demonstrate good habits, show empathy, and understand challenges like no other teacher. Hiring non-native speakers to teach English is not only possible, but in some cases, it may also be recommended.

Further reading and research can be found below

Native Vs Non Native English Teachers – Indonesia

Native and Non-Native English Language Teachers: Student Perceptions in Vietnam and Japan

The advantages of being a Non Native English Teacher

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

How Can Phonics Help with Speech Development?

Phonics has been a popular method for teaching reading for several decades. There are passionate proponents and opponents alike. As parents, you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of information presented for helping your child, especially if your child has learning difficulties. Phonics relies on the sounds that letters make, so this may raise the question of whether or not phonics could be helpful for children with speech difficulties or additional needs. .

Does Phonics Help With Speech?

Phonological awareness is a spoken language skill. If this skill can be developed it will be strongly connected to early reading and writing abilities. As these abilities progress then so does the literacy levels of students. These skills includes listening, reading, writing and of course speaking. but educators and parents need to be careful about how phonics is used. You will want to make sure that you are using phonics to help target speech as well as reading. All to often it is used as a reading skill in isolation.

How to Use Phonic Skills to Help With Speech Development.

Offer Similar Sound Representations

The more children hear the sound in words and phrases, the better they will become at saying and recognizing the letter sounds. You do not want to simply push the phonetic sound alone. While this may be fine for typically developing people, children with delays may have difficulty hearing or understanding phonics when they stand alone. By providing more words with the same sound representations, they will begin to hear these representations in their daily lives.

Teach Phonemes and Graphemes Together

Children who are having trouble with speech often have trouble connecting letters to their sounds. They need more reinforcement. Teaching them to use the phonemes and what the graphemes look like can sometimes solidify that sound in their brains. For those not familiar, phonemes are the sounds letters make, whereas graphemes are the physical letters. We have hundreds of resources for this on our site both free and premium.

Emphasize Phonological Skills

Start by locating words of similar sounds, roots, and syllabic content, and rhymes. Your child will not be able to do these things on their own, initially, but with support and help, they will improve over time. The more your child interacts with the sounds and structure, the more the phonics will improve their speech development. We have workbooks that offer games and activities for interaction and skill building specifically.

Pronunciation of Sounds and Word Blending

There are specific physical skills that can be taught to show learners how to position their lips, tongue and mouth to make the sounds of English. Although not often taught it is a perfectly valid and useful technique to use with students who may be having difficulties, for whatever reason. I do this reasonably often in my role as a second language teacher of English, there are sounds like /n/ /l/ and /r/ that are incredibly difficult to say in my teaching environment and showing mouth position help students grasp how they should approach them in the first instance. These free images of mouth position may be useful if you find yourself in a similar position. We also have our version you can download on the page here and by clicking the image above as well. (there one is more in depth)

Why Does Phonics Help?

Phonics, phonemic awareness, and phonemes are all oral language skills. While they may get students ready for reading and improve this vital academic skill, reading is undeniably intertwined with speech and oral skills. As students learn the phonemes and graphemes, they will begin to understand more of what they are hearing. Speech and hearing are often connected. While the brain may hear everything that is said, it may be inaccurately processing the sound. While this is often indicative of auditory processing disorder, this is common among young children, even without a long-term problem resulting in a diagnosis of CAPD. This can commonly be an issue for non-native speakers.

Alphabetically, the sounds are not the same in all languages. That means that graphemes and phonemes do not match what these speakers are already hearing. While these students are not typically speech students, they sometimes have trouble creating certain sounds. Children with disabilities such as Down syndrome also have trouble creating certain sounds due to elongated tongue or low muscle tone. Phonics can help these students practice sounds and make connections that may not have been clear before.

Phonemes, Graphemes, Phonological Awareness, and Phonics—What do they all mean?

Phonemes

Phonemes are simply the units of sound associated with words. Any sound a letter or cluster makes can be understood as a phoneme. For example, the sounds in the word phoneme are f o n e m. While that’s not the phonics version of the word, these are the smaller sounds that are made within the letters. These are the sounds that we hear. These sounds are smaller than syllables, but they can be used to teach syllabic sounds.

Phonics

These are the representations of the phonemes. Phonics have their own alphabet and visual representations. Without phonemic understanding, phonics may not be as easy to understand. Phonemic awareness is the foundation for understanding phonics.

Phonological Awareness

This component is most associated with understanding how words are related. Rhyming, beginning and ending sounds, alliteration, phonemes, and sentence/ word deconstructions are all part of phonological awareness. Students who are phonologically aware are able to hear rhyming words and alliteration. They understand phonemic sounds and can deconstruct words and sentences to manipulate the sounds. This is the most critical part of literacy and speech as they converge. Students who are struggling with speech sound often cannot discern the rhyme or alliteration, or it can be difficult for them to reproduce.

Graphemes

Simply put, these are the physical representation of letters. “A” and “a” are both graphemes. They are, in this case, also a representation of a phoneme. Each letter of the alphabet is a grapheme. Graph means writing or written. In this case, it is literacy components. Graphemes are typically representations of phonemes.

What Can Be Done from Home or with a General Education Teacher?

Interacting with text in the classroom at home will help students understand how words and phonics work. Focus on phonological awareness through emphasizing rhymes, beginning and ending sounds, and alliteration. Have your student repeat after you the words and sentences on the page, especially if rhyming and alliteration are present. When they delete beginning or ending sounds, it is okay to have them over-exaggerate them for a while. While web doesn’t end with a particularly hard B sound, it is okay to have them pronounce WEBuh for a short time. This will help them not delete that sound. It may also help them be more aware of the sounds that are quieter in speech but still present. As they become more aware, encourage softer b sounds at the end until they achieve the appropriate b sound at the end of the word.

Final Thoughts

Phonics and literacy have been intertwined for quite some time. However, until recently, many people did not understand the connection to speech pathology. Classroom teachers and parents can assist speech therapists by encouraging phonological awareness and interacting with the text from words, sounds, and pictures when appropriate. never be afraid to seek out professional advice and help if you or your children need.

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

 

How Can Phonics Improve Spelling?

This question is highly debated among teachers and educational researchers alike. The purpose of phonics is to teach children the smaller units of speech and language so they can grasp reading much more easily. Proponents of this program sing the praises of phonological and phonemic awareness and graphemic connection. On the other hand, opponents question the validity considering all of the pronunciation exceptions in English.

English is different than other languages. It has jokingly been called three languages in a trench coat pretending to be one language. While this may have been a Twitter user’s take, but it is not far from the truth. English is an amalgamation of several other languages. It tends to borrow from other languages and roots. However, this does not mean that phonics cannot be helpful. Children are capable of understanding the exceptions and differences in sounds and phonemes when instructed and phonics as well as general instruction of English provides ample opportunity to provide those exceptions and rules in a constructive and scaffolded way.

Developing phonological skills can have positive impacts on students spelling abilities. It develops the ability to use their knowledge of phonics into written form. Students learn decoding skills in partnership with rote learning skills that enable them to tackle both familiar and unfamiliar spelling rules.

It is not a catch all, with English nothign ever is, but the mistakes they make as they learn are all valuable practice of skills that will be used for the rest of their academic life and beyond.

English is three languages in a trench coat pretending to be one language

ANON – TWITTER

How Can Phonics Help With Spelling?

Spelling instruction can be a challenge for young children. None the less, students can combine spelling and phonics instruction. Children will naturally spell in the way that they hear. For example, a child may spell mouse “mows” or ‘mowz” before they know anything about phonics or spelling. They know some basics about spelling through reading with teachers, parents, or siblings. Because they have learned some words by sight and already begun learning to spell, they may often spell nearly phonetically anyway. Teaching phonics can improve spelling and help them “sound” out words more efficiently.

Relying heavily on phonics when some English words do not work phonetically, such as knife, wives, giraffe, or muscle, might be the mistake. Megan Dixon argues that spelling errors are more common when students are taught phonics instead of spelling. Students do not learn to spell correctly in phonics, according to her article on TES[1]. This can be true, but some spelling patterns can be taught through phonics. As a matter of fact, Reading Horizons argues, “While there are exceptions, the majority of our words prove phonetically — actually, around 84 percent. And that percentage is mostly if the words are spelled on sound-symbol correspondences alone.”[2] With such a large quantity of words following phonetic structure, one would wonder why phonetic education might be such a controversial subject.

How to Use Phonics in Spelling Instruction

Basic phonics can easily be used in spelling instruction. Parents and teachers have been encouraging children to “sound out” words for decades. This is essentially basic phonics education. However, many schools stop phonics education with simple phonetic associations with graphemes. Phonological awareness moves far beyond simple phonemic awareness. Phonological awareness includes rhyming, hard and soft sounds, beginning and ending sounds, and other sounds that are deeper than simple letter to sound associations. We have resources on all of these Phonetic skills as more.

  • Rhyming skills and minimal pairs help teach spelling rules
  • Hard and soft sounds rules also can help differentiating spelling
  • phonics rules like silent E introduce patterns that can help with spelling.

Reading Horizons additionally makes the point, “Morphological knowledge is about the root words and relationships among words. If students know the spelling for the root word, then spelling the derivations is much easier.”[3] When students know how words are formed and the spelling patterns for them, they often develop stronger spelling instincts. Sometimes similar words with similar-sounding roots are actually from different languages or bases and have different spelling patterns because of their origin. However, word knowledge can be more valuable to students than simply teaching phonics or spelling patterns, especially in English.

Nevertheless, teaching word origins or morphology of words cannot occur without phonetic instruction. To understand spelling patterns, we must understand what the combinations and groupings of words do. There are exceptions, but as noted earlier, these are not as prevalent as they might seem. This leads us, at least here, to conclude that phonics is in fact a valuable spelling tool for learners.

We have hundreds and hundreds of resources aimed at teaching Phonics and spelling / reading skills on this site. It is the reason for our existence. If you need some ideas or free resources just click the links in this passage. We also have a shop with workbooks that go into more depth with ideas, worksheets, apps and activities in easy to use packages.

Why Not Use Spell Check?

The simple answer to this question is that autocorrect fails have entire websites because this is not a science. Phonemic abilities are also required for spell check. Spelling a word, so that spell check picks up the right correction means that the writer must understand something about the phonetic or spelling structure. For instance, if I mean to write status but write statues, spell check will not note a problem. This is because statue is a word. Understanding the phonetics behind this word would help me understand which word I need. Likewise, if I spell stachues, the first word on the spell check list is statues. This is because phonetic spelling is often based upon what is heard or accents.

It is also over looked in the race to produce, assess and test that we as teachers are actually there to pass on skills and well as information. The ability to use skills across topics in English, or even more vitally across situations and subjects in school and work is something we really should put more effort in. If we can teach our students that the skills they learn and use are more than something for a test at the end of term, but something that can be used in other school subjects and in their lives out side of the school then we are teaching them to value skills, and retain them for the future. If we can do that we really are fulfilling what out role should be, and not perhaps what Education departments and principals keep trying to turn it into.

Other Ways to Improve Spelling

In addition to using phonetics, spelling patterns, roots, morphological awareness, and exceptions are invaluable to student learning. We have resources to use both free and paid here for you to use. Spelling is challenging for students regardless of what methods you may deploy for teaching. No one program will be perfect. This difficulty is why we need to work closely with students to teach a variety of spelling methods.

We do need to use caution when relying on rote memorization. Often students who study spelling lists and memorize the words find that their knowledge is temporary.

EVERY ENGLISH TEACHER EVER

They forget the spelling later. Students will revert to the previous incorrect spelling when strictly using rote memorization. They also find that they cannot spell the words if presented in alternate orders. While some words may be taught by memorization because they are unique, this should be used with caution. I teach in Hong Kong and unfortunately this is the Modis Operandi here for all spelling. Lists of dictation week after week is all they get and the results are always short term. This is a learn for exam culture not a learn for life one. Try to avoid that trap where ever possible.

Finally

Students need a variety of instruction to become strong spellers, in fact students need a variety of instruction to become strong anything. Spelling can be challenging in English, given exceptions and unusually spelled words. However, these exceptions are few and far between, and students should rely strongly on both phonics and spelling patterns. Just don’t rely on one magic bullet to give you and your students the answer and you and keep your materials and approaches varied, you will soon learn what works best in your classroom.

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children


Sources

[1] https://www.tes.com/news/if-you-want-children-learn-spell-teach-them-spelling-not-phonics

[2] https://www.readinghorizons.com/reading-strategies/teaching/phonics-instruction/is-phonics-for-spelling-foundational

[3] https://www.readinghorizons.com/reading-strategies/teaching/phonics-instruction/is-phonics-for-spelling-foundational

20 Of The Best Phonics Songs For Kindergarten, ESL And Primary Students.

Using Phonics Songs in English Language lessons are a superb resource, especially for younger learners. The rhythm and timing helps students practice pronunciation and develop fluency. If you add to that phonics skills and you have a ready made lesson, and an activity that your class will love to do.

The best phonics songs for children will include these key elements: Simple language, repetitiveness, phonics target language and fun! Songs like the phonics song, the Magic E, phonics and vowels songs all include these and increase students skills, motivation and abilities in phonics and English.

We have split these songs into Phonics skills sections to make it easier for parents and teachers. We have included more than 15 songs here and all of them have been used extensively with our own students and in our classrooms. It is both important to mention, and a relief to you all, that none of these songs feature me singing. I love to sing, however the only person who loves my singing is me. I have a few skills I have talent in and singing, even children’s phonics songs, is certainly not one of them. I leave that to these much more talented people that me!

If you are looking for phonics resources we have 1000s of free and Premium Phonics Activities, Worksheets and Resources to help you supplement your lessons.

Lets take a look at these Phonics songs.

  • Phonics Sounds Songs
  • CVC and Simple Words Phonic Songs
  • Consonant Digraphs and Blends Phonic Songs
  • Rhyming Songs
  • Short and Long Vowel Songs
  • Diphthongs and Vowel Digraphs Songs
  • R controlled Vowels Phonics Songs
  • Silent and Magic E Phonics Songs
  • Syllable Songs

The Phonics Song 2

So good they did it twice. There are two versions of this Phonic Sounds song We will link to the newest as we use that in our classroom. They are insanely popular so you don’t have to take our word for it. One has 600 Million Views the other has 113 million. Although a lot of these views could be my students and me! Both songs cover the 26 sounds of the English Alphabet, which is great for Young learners, they do not cover all 44(46) sounds and i cant find a song that does. SO maybe we can try to make on here! ( don’t worry i will hire a singer.)

However in the meantime to introduce the fact that the ABC song is not in fact the sounds of the letters in English this Phonics song is probably the best way.

CVC Phonics Songs

CVC song KidsTV

Moving on from single sounds, or at least those of the alphabet we can start to put those sounds together to allow students gain their first wins in word construction – The CVC word. The CVC word is one of the simplest words to make for young learners and is simply a consonant – Vowel – Consonant word. The Vowel is always a short vowel, so there is no confusion with long vowel spellings or pronunciation. (that comes later!)

The first song below is a slow and repetitive song that allows students to sound out the letters and then put them together to make the word. It is a good introduction before using the Phonics Rap some we have also included. Even kindergarten need some edge to their music! 😉

We have plenty of Phonics and CVC resources here as well if you want to add to your lessons.

Phonics Rap CVC Song

This song is a personal favorite. It introduces Rhyming and CVC words. It does presume a little background knowledge from the students but as a follow up to CVC or Rhyming lessons it is great. I often mute the song after the first word of each rhyme so the students can sing along. They get the hang of it pretty quick. It is certainly nice to not have a strummy guitar music childrens song for a change!

Consonant Digraphs and Blends Phonics Songs

These can be tricky to learn but with these songs below and the free and paid resources we have on the site you can get a head start for your students.

WH CH SH TH Song

I really like this song for two main reasons. One it has had a lot of effort put into it and is not just a song where they repeat the target words with music. It is actually a song, and a pretty good one as well. Two it covers the sounds in sentences and with images. It is not easy to follow as it is quite fast, but as either an introduction before breaking the sounds down into easier chunks or as consolidation it is light, happy and importantly a quality song to teach Consonant digraphs.

The Digraphs Rap

A simpler song to the one above, and not really a rap, more of one of those shouty word songs with a beat behind it. however it is probably better for beginners that the song above. ( not as much fun) . It covers some more blends and digraphs than the song above so that gets it on this list.

Digraph song

I put this here as it follows the melody of London Bridge is Falling Down, so younger learners are be able to follow it easier than the rap option above. It covers the main consonant digraphs and uses images to help those young learners again. Good for a whole class Phonics singalong.

The Digraph Song.

I like this one, it has an explanation on these phonics sounds for teachers to use at the beginning of the song. ( always a good idea I think) It also has plenty of phonics repetition in the song which works to help students consolidate these sounds. It is also simple enough to be followed by lower level learners. It is also the only song i have ever found that covers the consonant digraphs /ng/ and /gh/

Rhyming Phonics Songs

Rhyming skills are a great way for students to start to see and practice the relationships between letters and sounds. The songs are certainly one way to help with this. We also have Rhyming games activities and resources on the site for you to try.

Rhyming is so Easy

I was not what position to put rhyming songs in this list as sometimes the some go off into big long words using diphthongs and all sorts of advanced phonics skills. ( like this one below) however it is an important tip and reading strategy for students as well. So we had the Phonics Rap above already and I will include these two. The Rhyming is so Easy is the better/funnier of the two but is a little difficult. It also speeds up. There is a slower version on YouTube as well to make it a little easier.

It would be a travesty if I compile this list of Phonics songs and didn’t include Jack Hartman’s videos in them. It annoys me as he is really good, and I could never do what he does (remember the singing ability comment at the top of the page!) however his videos are hugely Child friendly, huge in numbers and hugely fun. So here is his Rhyming Song activity song.

I Love to Rhyme Jack Hartmann

Short and Long Vowel Phonics Songs

I have put these together with these songs as there are so many long vowel rules that i wanted to split them up further. SO these songs cover A E I O U sounds in their long and short forms. The other videos below cover the the other Phonetic rules liek R controlled, Silent E and Vowel Digraphs.

If you are starting with Vowel sounds and the differences between them then I recommend that you use the two below or something similar before moving on to the more difficult rules. We have hundreds of free and premium workbooks on vowels, and all the phonics rules that surround them. Feel free to look in the free resources section and the shop.

Short Vowel Song (a e i o u)

This song is great. It teaches the short vowel sounds with examples, is insanely catchy. ( i mean insanely catchy) I showed this to a class of 35 6 year old second language learners whose English is quite low. One time round and they were singing it on their own. Nice easy music and tune. Try it in your class, it is very effective.

Longs and Short Vowel Song

This is a good song, although not as easy as the one above. It aims to show the difference between the long and short sounds of English Vowels and does that well. They include examples of words to help students but you will need to do one more work to make sure students have fully grasped this. It is useful for teachers and students before moving on to teach the reasons why these vowels can say different sounds.

The Short Vowel Song

A nice easy to follow short vowel song that introduce each of the five sounds, a e i o u , to make it perfectly clear for young learners which letters are vowels!

Vowel Digraphs and Diphthongs

These are together with just the best we have found over our many years. We use these to introduce the idea of digraphs and diphthongs as they are a little fast. However pausing and using them as a teaching aid works well for us to reinforce the actual rules around these sounds.

When Two Vowels Go Walking.

This is great and for native speakers and needs a little adjustment for second language speakers. (try slowing it down a little!) It shows the rules around vowel digraphs, that the first vowel will be the long sound and the second will be silent). It is from between the lions, and they have a lot of good English videos that are suitable for classrooms on YouTube.

Vowel Digraph Song

A slower version if the above Digraph song is too fast. This explains the rules for two vowels together before each mini song. This makes it more suitable for younger learners. We often start with this one before moving onto the faster ( and more fun) one above.

The Diphthong Song

There are many diphthongs in English, 8 in fact. We don’t want to overload this page any more than we have already done! So I have linked to a collection that has most of them in their songs. The songs are nice and user friendly and are at a reasonable pace rather than too fast. They work really well as an introduction to what can be difficult sounds to master. This seems to a new channel and that is to be welcomed as there is a lot of older videos on YouTube that could do with an update.

R Controlled / Bossy R Phonics Songs

Controlling R Song

This song gives an explanation first then launches into a version of Old Macdonald had a farm with these vowel phonics rules. It is great! We use this all the time before the lessons on R controlled rules. Well written and performed and a must to use in your phonics lessons.

Pirates say Ar

It seems wrong to not include a pirate song when talking about R controlled vowels. SO here it is. It teachers words as well as the sound and is a good excuse for all the class to practice their pirate sounds as well as their phonics !

Bossy R Compilation.

Because there are also a lot of spellings of the R controlled vowels we have linked to another vowel song complication here. They are from the same YouTube Channel mentioned above and they seem to be doing great things.

Silent / Magic E songs

There are a few of these. I don’t care though. I have used this song for years, love it and its going to take something very special to turn my head elsewhere. Its called the magic E song and it is perfectly suited to use in phonics lessons. There is even a word list i use as a game at the end of the song. The song is slow, catchy and explains the silent E rule perfectly. When you teach this phonic rule this is the song for you .

The Magic E Song.

Syllables Songs

Go Noodle – Clap it Out

These guys are great, and have such a huge range of learning videos for so many different subjects. They are a paid site but they do have free content on YouTube as well like below. They did have a deal for the CoVid pandemic if you are working in a school. This is fast though, so maybe more suited for native speaking classrooms.

Syllables

They always say end with a song, well we started with plenty so I am not going to end with a song. I am ending with a video. This is a mini lesson that introduces The concept of syllables in a methodical and child friendly way. We use this all the time, and then later if ready, we will jump around with the Go Noodle crew above.

So there you have it. 20 songs (more actually) and 1 lesson video to help you teach Phonics using songs. As we said they are especially good in younger classrooms, but really they work for older children as well. The aim is to present the Phonics in as many ways as possible and phonic songs are just another tool in the English teachers tool kit. These songs are our favorites and have been tried and tested in classrooms all over the world. I hope they are as useful to you as they have been to us.

If you need worksheets, activities, resources and games we have a HUGE selection of free and paid resources in our Phonics Shop and in our Free Resources section.

Happy teaching.

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children

15 Of The Best ESL Speaking Games And Activities.

For English language learners speaking is probably one of the most important and most feared language skills they have to learn. They may be shy, in both languages, or they may be afraid of making a mistake in front of their friends or classmates. One of the best ways to overcome this is to use English games and activities, introduce some fun into the lessons and these fears suddenly become less important. We have been teaching English for a lot of years and here are 15 of the best English Speaking games and activities we have researched and trialed in our classrooms. They have been massively useful to us over the years, so we hope they are for you as well.

We have researched English Speaking Games for all levels, backgrounds and ages of students. Activities like the ”Yes/No game. Call My Bluff, On Call” can all be scaled to address student needs. Utilizing speaking games for students is a proven way of maximizing participation and retention of language.

It is important to try to over come students initial fears of speaking, No one likes to make mistakes or look foolish so creating a risk free and non judgmental environment in your classroom is vitally important. I often try to speak in the students first language to show them that of course people make mistakes, and that is perfectly acceptable, of course some times funny, and nothing NOTHING to worry about! This is a more difficult task with adult learners, but still achievable highlighting their motivations for learning the language and how it can benefit them at the beginning of sessions helps with this, especially if you go on to highlight how speaking is going to be the most important skill in the vas majority of these situations. In careers, social occasions and travel.

Speaking is the most important skill they will learn. One thing both younger and older students have in common? We all like to have fun. These speaking games below can all be adapted to suit either a Kindergarten classroom, ESL or otherwise, or a boardroom training session. There is something for every classroom situation.

Also where we have them on our site we will link to the files for you to download to make it more convenient for you. If you want to jump to a specific game just click on the list below.

English Speaking Games and Activities

  1. 30 Second Speech
  2. Logic Game – Downing Street
  3. ESL Directions Game
  4. Speaking Activities – Expressions
  5. Speaking Activities – Responses
  6. Mallets Mallet – Word Association Speaking Game
  7. Make a Wish – Speaking Game
  8. YES / NO Speaking Game.
  9. Pictionary – English Speaking Game
  10. Guess Who
  11. Call My Bluff / Would I lie to you
  12. Doctors In
  13. Show and Tell
  14. Taboo
  15. Think Fast

1. 30 Second Speech

This English speaking activity is both fun and useful. The aim is to get students to speak for 30 seconds about topics that may or may not be out of their comfort zone. We have a list of topics here for you to choose from, and of course you can think of your own.

There are two ways to approach this, you can introduce the task by asking them to work individually first, or move straight onto the game below.

  • Introduce the idea to the group and say that we will be focusing more and more on their speaking and presenting skills and that this lesson will be a bit of fun and good practice.
  • Ask how long 30 seconds is…. Is it a long time? (Relative of course!)
  • Say that they are going to be talking for 30 seconds about something they know about and that they have only 1 minute to prepare.
  • You can work your way around the class, or split your class into teams to do this depending on
  • Work your way round they class giving people a go at trying to speak for 30 seconds.

The 30 Second Speech game

As they practice the task above write the rules on the board and split class in half

  • 1) Pick a subject
  • 2) Talk for 30 seconds
  • 3) No hesitation or repetition ( although of course they are learning so be lenient with this!)
  • 4) If you can’t talk for 30 seconds the other team will get a chance to finish your time.
  • 5) If they can finish the time they will get the points instead.

Adaptations:

  • You can change the amount of time depending on the age and abilities of your students.
  • You can choose topics that will appeal to your students, if professional students you can choose topics from their careers for example.
  • To do this with varying abilities it is possible to change all aspects. From length of time speaking to the topics chosen.
  • you can work as teams and make it competitive or run it as a whole class activity.

2. Logic Speaking Lesson – Downing Street

These type of activities used to be in puzzle magazines all the time. There sis a fair deal of explaining required to them but basically it s a logical fill in the blanks. It is better suited to higher level students, but its a great English Speaking game when adapted properly.

We have a separate page for the full details, and it is in this speaking exercise book ( free download) but will highlight the basics here to see if it is something that fits your teaching needs.


The aim is to fill in the table with all the information so you know everything about the residents of Downing street. However you have to walk around and ask the rest of the class for that information, only once you have spoken to everyone will you be able to work it out . This is a great English speaking game that gets the whole class taking to each other, and forgetting about the language they are doing that in!

You will need the table worksheet for students to fill in and the list of information and clues both on the links includes here

  • Pass out one clue and a table worksheet to fill in to each Student.
  • If you have fewer than 20 participants, give each person more than one clue until you run out.
  • If you have more than 20 students, cut up more than one copy of each and pass out duplicates to the group
  • Do not let participants read each other’s clues.
  • As they get the information they can start to fill in their table.
  • They must speak and listen to identify, as a group, what they learn from each clue.
  • The teachers role is to make sure they are speaking English and to point in the right direction if it gets a little confusing.

Once your students have the answers then it can be gone through together on the board or white board and it adds another speaking element to the lesson. This is a great speaking game for ESL students and other. It really encourages them to speak to each other. As an added bonus for teachers we get to act as facilitator rather than be stuck at the front of the classroom.

Adaptations: It is possible to add clues (carefully to make sure they fit the answers) doing this makes it much easier. The aim is to get the students speaking to each other not just the logic side of the activity.

3. Giving Directions Lesson plan

Ask and respond activities give students the comfort of a script to follow, which means those who are a little self conscious have some scaffolding to work from. It also means these activities are suitable for lower level students who need that extra help

Resources •A copy of a town map, or any town map printable from google for groups of students, a list of place names for students to pick from. We have one designed for younger learners here.

The activity.

  • Chose a student from each team (make three teams if you can.) who will come to the front and pick a place to start from the bag and then will pick a place to finish.
  • The students mentions the start building and then has to give directions to their team.
  • His/her team has to follow as they describe the directions (obviously they cant say the name of the place or the building that they are supposed to go.) If the team has it right they get points.
  • You can pre teach turn left, straight on, turn right as needed of course.
  • Offer points as you see fit for each team
  • Make sure as many get a chance to come to the front and speak as possible.

Adaptations:

It is possible to actually have the directions already prewritten for students. This means they can practice reading, speaking and listening in one activity.

Also it is possible to have your class spend a lesson coming up with the directions themselves and then putting them all in a box or bag at the front for the whole class to use. This means you add writing and they are actually using their own work to prepare a lesson.

4. Speaking lessons – Expressions

One of the main problems when teacher oral English speaking lessons is that the class invariably turns into robots. This is not intentional, so much effort goes into speaking in another language that putting emotion and expression into what they are saying comes way , WAY down the list.

So sometimes a little nudge in the right direction is all they need. We have designed an ESL speaking game and lesson to do just that.

  • We have a worksheet we have prepared for you with some sentences that will require a lot of expression.
  • Write the word expression on the board and ask what is says and what it means
  • Explain that although this word can mean making your voice have feeling or emotion, it is also your facial expressions.
  • Show them what a voice without expression sounds like (you tube most boring voice in the world or something) or demonstrate yourself.. Let them know intonation and expression are SO important in English that they should try to think about them more.
  • Give out the work sheet with examples of sentences on and see let them work out how they should say each sentence to make it more natural.
  • Father TED Video here is a reasonable example of boring and dramatic voice. ( there is a bra in it in the first 5 seconds so set it up first if it is likely to cause problems )
  • Remind them to try to use not only expression in their voice but in their face as well. Demonstrate how difficult it is to sound sad when you look happy and that by using facial expression it actually makes speaking English easier!
  • Have the group work through the sayings and ask them to perform them together.
  • As a fun activity write something random on the board (I like peas, where is my pen, I have won the lottery) and have emotions and feelings written on the board. Choose a student number and have them say a phrase normally and then point at a different emotion and see if they can say it like that. If you want to make it a competition see if the rest of the class can work out what emotion they are trying to act out.
  • E.g.: Sad but won the lottery, happy but lost their pen etc.

Adding expression to their speech is a large step towards sounding natural and developing English fluency.

5. Responses Lesson

In English to sound more natural we have a set of almost automatic set of responses on hearing good, bad or surprising news. It doesn’t take much to teach these in ESL Speaking lessons and for ESL Students in particular it is a definite confidence builder for them.

  • Greet the class and walk around offering compliments to people, you look nice; I like your hair, nice shirt…etc. See what responses you get from this.
  • Write RESPONSES on the board and see if they have seen the word and if they can tell you what it means.  Write up congratulations on the board and ask when they would say this. Illicit ideas from the group.
  • Repeat but with my cute little rabbit died yesterday and see what they think the correct response should be.
  • Give out the worksheet and ask them to work in pairs to see if they can write the correct response to the appropriate sentence. Give them a couple of minutes to do this. Longer if needed. Then choose a student to say one and another student / group to try to give the answer. Work through them all.
  • Give life to the responses and let them know if they say sorry their voice has to mean it otherwise it might sound sarcastic. Same with congratulations etc.  So expression is very important in English to make sure the correct meaning is conveyed!
  • There are two spaces at the bottom for two sentences for them to write a sentence and then the appropriate response.

As a game you can then repeat the same sort or exercise as the activity above. Have a selection of sentences than usually require a response and then ask for the incorrect response. No one expects you to say congratulations when you tell them your little rabbits died yesterday!!!

6. Word Association Speaking Game

This English Speaking game, together with the YES/NO game below are tied for my favorite game to play with any age student ESL or other wise. They can, and have been, played with second language kindergarten students all the way up to native speaking business people with the same amount of fun. The language from the business people was perhaps a little ruder than the kindergarten children but only a little!

It is a superb English speaking game for ESL students and native speakers. It gets really REALLY competitive. you will need an inflatable hammer they have packs of 12 on amazon for about 12 dollars and that’s it!

This game is based on a old TV show from the UK called Wacaday. In it they had a rather colorful character called Timmy Mallet who, among other things, played a game called mallets mallet. In this game the players, always children, had to think of a word associated with whatever Timmy said. There was no hesitation, repetition, or ummm or errrrrs allowed or they got a bonk on the head. (softly of course) the winner was the one who didn’t get hit!

This is easier to show you than explain so here is a video of it! ( it was the 1980s so excuse the poor quality of the video, and of course the hair styles!)

Two students at a time come to the front and the teacher/helper gives them a word. They have to say a word related to the previous word in 3 seconds or less. They can not repeat, pause or say something unrelated.

If they get it wrong they get a ‘bonk’ on the head and 3 times bonked and a new pair or students comes up or you could even play winner stays on. For fun they can play against the teacher as well.

Here are some ideas.

  • Fruit
  • Animal
  • Country
  • Teacher
  • School
  • Hobbies
  • MacDonald’s
  • Pencil

Water, drink, tea, coffee, sugar, sweet, sour …..

Adaptations:

You can make this much slower than the video if you are working with second language or ESL students, and if you don’t want a hammer you can use a rolled up piece of paper or just play it as a point game without the hammer. (its more fun with one of course!)

7. Wish Speaking and Writing lesson.

This is a take on the TV Show Call my Bluff, where contestants have to guess who is lying. In this version students have to guess who wishes / wants what. They can do this by picking and reading a wish out of the bag and then trying to guess who it belongs to. They hav to give a reason why they think that.

Note: I have done this, or a version of this, many times without issue. However there was one time when a student wrote that they wished their parents would get back together which was pretty heartbreaking. Although it is superb to share, in front of a class of other students may not be the time or place. I did of course talk to her after and sought some help from others in the school. It may be worth while including instructions to keep it light.

  • I do this by telling the class that i am not their teacher now, I am the genie from Aladdin and that I am going to give them three wishes, but one has to be to make the world a better place, one has to be for their family or friends and the last one can be for them. (And it can’t be I will have x more wishes)
  • Give out some scrap paper and let them have a few mins to think about it then they have to write the wishes down but no names.
  • Once completed say that we are going to have an activity. The class will have to guess whose wishes are whose.
  • You will have three people at the front and need to mix up the pieces of paper. then hand them back to the students. Maybe they are mixed maybe they are not.
  • One student at a time will read one of the lists of wishes and the rest of the class have to guess who they think the wishes belong to.
  • You can continue till all the students have had a try.

Adaptations: This is also great as an Icebreaker activity for students and teacher to get to know each other. You can keep the activity as wishes or ask them to write three things about themselves. You can even change it to two things true and one lie to add some fun and creativity. ( and to create another English Speaking game called ”would I lie to you” or Call my Bluff.

8. Yes – No Game – Speaking Lesson 

When I said that The Word Association game above and this game were tied as my favorite English Speaking game I lied. This is my number one game. It is just perfect for all levels of English learner. It can be made easier for younger and ESL students and learners and more difficult for higher levels. No matter what level of learner is in the class you can use this game.

Now watch the video to see someone very VERY good at asking the questions in action. (these are native speakers so of course he tries very hard to catch them out and speaks very quickly)

It is better to teacher this to students with at least a basic abilty, but it doesnt have to be high level as you can level the wuestion you ask.

Write up questions on the board and say that today we are going to look at question that are answered with yes/no. .

  • The yes no game is from a TV show around the world, people have to come out and answer the questions the teacher (at first) asks. These will nearly all be yes or no questions.
  • The student must not answer with yes or no, or nod their head or shake their head, or say uh huh etc etc.
  • It sounds easy, but it isn’t!
  • They will get carried away with this so take time to calm them down between students, and it is excellent practice for adding language to answers.
  • Once they have the hang of it students can also be brought up to ask the questions. The activity then becomes student led and the teacher can observe and advise.

Tips: Ask questions starting with do you, can you , will you etc usually catch students out. Also you can repeat the students answer and add yes, or no to the end and it might catch them out to nod or repeat you.

It is simply awesome to play this and as I said earlier even 5 and 6 year olds quickly grasp this English speaking game. Once i have played it with my students it is the most requested speaking game every lesson following that.

9. Pictionary – English Speaking Game.

Allowing your students to communicate with each other takes off some of the pressure of a whole class environment and allows them to risk take with their English speaking in a less public arena 

In this game, each student in the pair draws a picture, keeping their paper shielded from the eyes of their partner. Ideally, pictures should be fairly simple. Once the picture is complete, they explain to their partner, using words only, how to replicate the image this can be done at a desk or as a whispers type activity across school halls if you want a more physical speaking game.

For example, if a student has drawn the stereotypical square house with a triangle roof, he might say: “draw a house, with a red roof and blue door. He may miss out how many windows, the family in front of it or all manner of details.

This allows the teacher to compare the two drawings with the students and ask what language they could have added to get more details into the picture. This really enables students to start to think about expanding and adding to the phrases they say.

The goal of this game is for each partner to replicate the other’s drawing by listening and understanding these spoken directions. The difference in drawings is often pretty funny as well.

10. Guess who 

Although you can use the Guess Who board game if you have it, its about 15 USD on Amazon if you have a need! It is probably easier and more adaptable for the culture or location you are teaching in to make a simple version with famous people from your area.

Students simpley draw the name of a famous person and photo if needed out of a hat (you’ll need to prepare these slips in advance!) and their partner or the rest of the class tries to guess who is on the paper by asking a series of yes/no questions.

it is a fun and engaging English speaking game that tests questioning knowledge.

11. Call My Bluff / Two Truths and A Lie

This is a similar game to the Make a Wish game above, but Call My Bluff is a more difficult and fun game which is perfect at the start of term as a ‘getting to know you’ kind of game. It is also a brilliant ice breaker between students if you teach classes who do not know one another — and especially essential if you are teaching a small class size.

The game is excellent for practicing English speaking skills, though make sure you save some time for after the game to comment on any mistakes students may have made during the game. (I generally like to reserve this for after the game, so you don’t disrupt their fluency by correcting them as they speak).

With older groups you can have some real fun and you might be surprised what you’ll learn about some of your students when playing this particular EFL game.

  • Why use it? Ice-breaker; Speaking skills
  • Who it’s best for: Appropriate for all levels and ages but best with older groups

How to play:

  • Write 3 statements about yourself on the board, two of which should be lies and one which should be true.
  • Allow your students to ask you questions about each statement and then guess which one is the truth. You might want to practice your poker face before starting this game!
  • If they guess correctly then they win.
  • Extension: Give students time to write their own two truths and one lie.
  • Pair them up and have them play again, this time with their list, with their new partner. If you want to really extend the game and give students even more time to practice their speaking/listening skills, rotate partners or run as a whole class activity.
  • Bring the whole class back together and have students announce one new thing they learned about another student as a recap

12. Doctors In

Actually this stems for a party (or drinking) game at universities and can be adapted to what ever vocabulary or topic you are teaching at the time. In the university version we all stick a post it to our foreheads and have to guess the famous person we are. Similar to the Guess who game above. In ESL or Classroom use we can do this with Jobs, animals, furniture, absolutely anything all you need are some post its or similar to stick to peoples heads or backs – anywhere they can not read it. It is a great ESL speaking game for classrooms with limited resources.

How to play:

  • Write the terms, problems or vocabulary you want on to Post It Notes and stick to the students back.
  • The Students must walk about asking questions of their students on the word, yes and no questions work better, but longer ones can be used.
  • Hopefully Students will be able to get enough information to guess what their word is.
  • This game can be adapted for old or young students, or even university students 😉

13. Show and Tell

This classic classroom activity still has a place in modern classrooms. Students simply bring in something they would like to Show and Tell to their classmates. It practices students speaking ability, and their ability to prepare short written scripts that they will have to read. For those not talking it practices their listening ability, especially if you add a could of quiz questions at the end of each show and tell part.

You can change this by having a mystery box and they have to describe the item with out looking to their classmates and have them try to guess ( or the student of course) what it is.

14. Taboo

Maybe its because i am writing this just a couple of days after Christmas, but I notice there are a lot of party games in this list. It might be that, but it might also be because they just work. Everyone, young and old, likes to have fun and these games provide that in abundance. Taboo is no exception.

It is simply a deck of cards, you can make your own or pick up a glossy set on Amazon for not much. On the card they have one target word and four words underneath. The player, in one minute or what ever time limit you decide to set has to try to explain what the target word is with out mentioning it, or the four related words underneath.

The beauty of this game is that you can adapt it to whichever topic you have been studying and make it easier or more difficult depending on the age and abilities of your students. It works in ESL and native speaking classrooms.

15. Think Fast

This is a nice physical game for warm up or for end of class consolidation. You just need a bean bag and some ideas.

It is similar to the Mallets Mallet Word assocation game above but involves the who class rather than pairs at the front.

  • First have your students stand facing each other in a circle, or as much of one as you can make if you are in a classroom.
  • Then explain that you are going to say a topic, maybe animals, or colors anything.
  • When you do you are going to throw the ben bag or ball at a student ( to catch not hurt!) and when they catch they have to then say something in that topic,
  • Then throw the ball on to another student in the circle.
  • That student has to do the same, but it has to be a different word. If they get it wrong, pause or repeat they have to sit down and wait fo the next round.

This is great fun and students of ALL ages get into it very quickly. You can also allow then to pick their own subjects after a few goes.

The simple fact is that students of all ages learn better when they are having fun. If you can try to incorporate some of these English Speaking games and activities into your lessons then you will find that more and more your students are willing to engage and practice the language you are teaching them. There are hundreds more activities, but these are our favorites. We have a booklet of ten of them for free download if you want an idea of some of the resources behind them, but we will also be putting them up on the site as time goes by so you can take them individually as you need.

Hope these helped you as much as they have helped us!

About Making English Funn

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children