ESL middle school students need practice with English in real-life situations. In the classroom, a teacher can use role playing, conversations and daily activities such as cooking or asking for directions to provide English practice, similar to what students may encounter outside of school. A variety of activities planned for an ESL classroom will help students stay motivated and practice speaking in different, real-life situations.
Buying a Ticket
One ESL middle school activity you can do in the classroom is to have students role play buying a ticket for a trip or event using public transportation. On the Boggles World ESL website, there is a lesson plan called, "I need a ticket to Osaka, Japan." You can use this same idea and modify it for your students and needs. For example, ask students to pretend they need a bus ticket to go to a sporting event in your city. When students are paired up, one is the purchaser and one is the ticket vendor. You can give them a list of questions and statements that both may need to say in this situation. Using this list, the students work together until the purchaser has secured his ticket for the bus ride. Questions on the list for the ticket vendor may include: Where do you need to go? What time? When do you want to return home? Statements for the purchaser may include: The game starts at 1:00 at Busch Stadium. What is the closest bus station? I prefer to get there one hour in advance. With this role play, students are learning practical, everyday skills while practicing English. You can also modify this activity to purchase things like movie or play tickets.
Another activity for ESL middle school students is to give them topics of conversation for discussion in pairs or small groups. On The internet TESL Journal website, a list of topics is provided, along with questions that students can discuss about each topic. Topics range from sports to art, from everyday life to government bodies. There are different ways to use topics of conversation--you can give students a topic and without any guidance, ask them to discuss it in English for five minutes (or any length of time). You can print off the questions from the TESL journal website, pass them out to students, and assign them to take turns asking each other questions. Finally, you can have a whole group discussion on a certain topic. With this method, you have to observe the conversation carefully to make sure all students are participating.
An interactive middle school activity for ESL students is cooking. Students will follow a recipe, written in English, to make a simple recipe such as chocolate chip cookies, a quesadilla that can be cooked in the microwave or a club sandwich. It will depend on your school and your resources on what type of recipe you can make. On cooking day, ESL students work in small groups with each group receiving a copy of the recipe. You can also give them a sheet of statements or questions they may need when cooking such as: "Please preheat the oven to 176 degrees C." or "Did you set the timer for 55 minutes?" Before cooking, you may need to review English abbreviations for words such as tablespoon or teaspoon if these are in the recipe. To save money on ingredients, ask each parent to donate one ingredient for the cooking day.
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