Weather ESL exercises

Written by kate bradley
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Weather ESL exercises
Discussing weather is important for ESL students' success in the "real world." (Weather Vane image by Carol Wingert from

Weather is one of the most common conversation topics for native English speakers. ESL students need to be able to use and understand weather descriptors and terminology in order to plan for the day, dress accordingly and discuss it with others.

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Dramatic Exercises

Review common weather descriptors such as rainy, cold, hot, windy, sunny, foggy and cloudy. Teach as many as possible, then write the descriptors on small strips of paper. Give one to every student and tell him not to show other students. Students take turns pretending to be in the kind of weather on their paper and other students must guess what the weather is like. Leave a list of the new weather vocabulary on the board for reference.

With more advanced students, teach more unusual weather terms such as hurricane, thunderstorm, tornado or lightning. Using the same strip of paper method, split them into pairs or small groups and tell them to get creative. Have them create an entire scenario and funny characters to act out the weather.

Listening Exercises

Play a recording (no video) of an American weather report. Don't slow it down or replay it. Ask students to write down what they think the speaker said. Replay the recording and stop it every five seconds or so to let students check their answers. Clarify unfamiliar vocabulary and write "slang equations" on the blackboard. For example, "It's gonna be a hot one" is the same as "Today the weather will be hot." Or, find a video of an American weather report and play it for the students. Check comprehension and ask students if the visual aid was useful or distracting.

Matching Exercises

Find pictures that illustrate common weather, such as a sunny day or rainy day, and write corresponding descriptors on separate strips of paper. Give it a twist by substituting strips that say things like "Today you need an umbrella" or "Don't forget your sunblock." Give the pictures to half of the students and the strips to the other half, then tell them they must find the student that matches them.

You can also bring a large variety of weather-related materials to class; for example, galoshes, sunglasses, an umbrella, an overcoat or a ponytail holder (windy weather). Designate different parts of the room as sunny, windy, etc. Tell the students to match the weather items to their appropriate part of the room. Follow up with a discussion about why they made the matches that they did.

Team Exercises

Write five or six weather forecasts with lots of dramatic changes throughout (for example, the day starts off cloudy, becomes sunny, then there's a thunderstorm and lightning, then it rains). Split students into teams. Give each team a piece of paper for each script and coloured pencils. Read the scripts aloud. For every script, one student on each team must draw what she hears (with the help of teammates). Read the script twice if your students are weak; otherwise, read clearly and slowly and do not repeat. The team with the most accurate illustration of your script wins a point. Tell students to take turns drawing.

You could also put students in two teams and play "Hot Seat." Put two chairs at the front of the room with their backs to the board. Tell one student from each team to sit in a chair. Write a weather-related term on the board. Teams must describe the terms to their teammate in the chair. The first teammate to correctly guess what they are describing wins a point for his team.

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