For any teacher, ESL lesson planning can be time-consuming, and sometimes, tricky.
What to do with a class I’ve had for a long time? How can I make this grammar or vocabulary topic engaging? How can I liven up my class while still achieving my learning objectives?
You’ve arrived at the right place. Here are some of the top ESL sites that would add ease to your lesson planning, and would be a great help in creating dynamic classes for a range of ages and abilities.
Games and activities for ESL class
A go-to for games, interactive worksheets, and photocopiable activities is Teach This.
Suitable for any age, they provide (mostly) free, downloadable materials which are particularly good for providing speaking activities and allowing for pair and group work opportunities (e.g. role plays, board game).
The site also has a wealth of material for lower levels.
The ESL Cafe
The first site I ever used as an ESL teacher was The ESL Cafe. It still provides an enormous amount of help until today whenever I was looking for any minimal-preparation games or activities.
It has a page dedicated to games for all levels, submitted by ESL teachers from around the world.
ELT Games is a great resource for photocopiable ESL worksheets which focus on specific grammar points, broken down into different levels.
It provides free, printable activities such as multiple-choice quizzes, cut-up card games, and discussion activities.
TEFLpedia has a variety of vocabulary games for a range of levels but differs in the fact that the website itself has a wealth of knowledge for newly-qualified ESL teachers, such as ready-made lessons and grammar help.
Tech-based ESL lesson plans
Nowadays, it is hard to ignore the fact that technology is becoming an almost essential tool in our classrooms.
Students mostly enjoy that fact, and there are many websites dedicated to interactive, online activities useful for both self-study and in lessons that teachers can use to their advantage.
Kahoot is one of the best tech-apps available for both teachers and students.
Students can create interactive quizzes to share with each other, and teachers can create questions to test student’s knowledge of a topic.
A projected screen is a must for this app.
Another similar option is Socrative, where you can assess students and privately receive the results; helping in planning upcoming lessons by focusing on problem areas.
Lyrics training is a music-based program which can be projected onto a screen and played as a class or used as a self-study tool.
Popular songs play with pauses to allow students to guess the missing word or phrase in the lyrics.
This always goes down extremely well and is a great filler activity for the last few moments of any class.
Preparing ESL lessons for kids & teens & adults
Motivating young learners and teens can be challenging when provided with only a course book. However, there are many ways to introduce fun activities, as well as providing opportunities to practice skills within the classroom.
The British Council Teens
The British Council Teens website has a bank of current articles, videos, and audio materials; all with activities to encourage pair and group work.
This site has a whole section dedicated to cultural lessons such as British literature, film, music, and history, which can be particularly useful when teaching in countries outside of the UK, such as China, to engage the students and to give them a purpose for using the language.
British Council Kids
British Council Kids has materials and lessons dedicated to young learners and divides the site into activities such as ‘print and make’ for very young students, ‘speak and spell’ for skills practice, and ‘fun and games’ for lessons which require minimal preparation.
Teaching English BBC
Teaching English BBC provides a variety of resources useful for both teachers and students.
From phonemic charts to a continued professional development (CPD) series for teachers, and from full lessons with materials to cultural quizzes, this website has a teen, young learners, and adult learner section.
ESL lesson plans for reading
One Stop English
You’re searching the internet for a lesson related to a specific topic, but most of them either don’t exist or have material for the wrong level. One Stop English offers a wide range of motivating activities to suit all ages and abilities.
Although a paid subscription, it is worth it if you are looking for reading based lessons or CLIL-related materials, as there are lessons for students of all ages to incorporate in classes.
This website has an affiliation with the British newspaper The Guardian, so is therefore often updated with the latest news and full reading comprehension lesson plans.
Breaking News English
Breaking News English offers a 6-level design, where students can choose to read a current news article according to their level.
There are often 10-15 activities below each article which, unfortunately, cannot be completed online but can be printed to do in class or for self-study purposes.
The site is updated regularly to keep up with recent world events in the news.
ESL lesson plans for grammar
Perfect English Grammar is a detailed, easy-to-navigate site which can be used for students to self study, but also offers free, printable PDF’s.
This site offers instant-check grammar questions and is completely free to use.
IELTS lesson plans
Often not one of the first things a teacher will have to deliver lessons on, but as the most widely taken English exam in the world, it is essential to know the basics of the IELTS exam, particularly if students have questions on where to prepare for it.
Ielts Liz is particularly useful for writing assistance; providing ample essay questions and model answer samples.
Ielts Buddy offers practice papers, listening materials and a breakdown of the exam itself.
IELTS Pass offers a deeper insight into the exam; providing online courses, materials and useful blog articles with tips and strategies for achieving IELTS success.
Plan your ESL lessons like a pro
Whether you are a newly-qualified teacher, or an experienced teacher looking to add dynamism to your lessons, these resources will be invaluable in preparing engaging and motivating activities for your students, whatever age or ability you teach.