TESOL/Fluency building activities

A foreign language course should include fluency building activities which focus exclusively on fluency and totally avoid new language or new forms. Remember the MINUS principle.

Mingling edit

A type of icebreaker may help students warm up and become more comfortable speaking in front of others.

Facts about yourself edit

Slips of paper edit

  1. Each student receives two slips of paper and writes an unusual fact about themselves on each slip
  2. The instructor takes all the slips.
  3. The instructor hands one out to each student so that no student receives their own slip of paper.
  4. Each student asks another student if they wrote the fact on the slip of paper that they have.
  5. When a student finds the author, they keep that slip and picks up another one from the instructor.
  6. This continues until all the authors have been found.
  7. The student with the most slips wins.

Bingo edit

  Search for Bingo (U.S.) on Wikipedia.

A grid with facts is prepared by the teacher and handed out to each student. The facts are fairly general such as "I live in a house." Students mingle and ask each other if they match any of the squares and the first person to make bingo wins.

For smaller groups, students may work together in a group and one student may ask the others, and then their partner asks everyone, and their partner and so on.

Beginner edit

Information gap edit

Secret identity edit

  1. S1 has a secret identity chosen among identities of famous people.
  2. Other students ask yes/no questions to guess S1's identity
  3. When a student is sure, they can ask "Are you (name)?"

Secret location edit

  1. Students divide into two teams
  2. From each team, one student chooses a location
  3. The student who knows the location describes it using "you can (verb)" or "you can't (verb)". Other students may ask questions. The first team to guess which location it is wins.

Secret word edit

Related words as clues edit
  1. The teacher gives one student a secret word.
  2. The student with the word gives a clue.
  3. The other students guess the word.
Actions as clues edit
  Search for Charades on Wikipedia.

This can be used with single words or entire sentences.

Definitions as clues edit
  1. One student has a secret word.
  2. That student gives a definition.
  3. The other students guess the word.
  4. The first correct guess wins.

There should always be a theme for these words, such as "animals."

To support lower level groups, prepare cards with the word and about five descriptive sentences below. For example, the theme is "animals", and one card looks like this:


  1. They have four legs.
  2. They are usually brown, black, or white.
  3. They eat grass.
  4. They make milk.
Context as clues edit

This is a word substitution activity.

  1. One student has a secret word.
  2. That student makes a sentence using the word, but substitutes another word for their secret word. For example, if they chose "sandwich," and substitute "bonanza," the student says "I often eat bonanzas for lunch."
  3. The other students guess the secret word.

Go fish edit

  Search for Go Fish on Wikipedia.

This game practices vocabulary written or depicted on the back of playing cards.

  1. Students form groups.
  2. The instructor deals each person a certain number of cards.
  3. One student at a time asks any other student "Do you have a ...?" where ... is whatever is on the back of one of the cards that the student has.
  4. It the student being asked has the cards, they give them to the person asking. If not, the student being asked says "Go fish!" and the other student must take a card from the deck.
  5. When a student has all of a kind, they may put them at the bottom of the deck.

Listen and draw edit

  1. Students for pairs.
  2. One student is given a picture but cannot show it to their partner.
  3. The student with the picture describes it and their partner must draw it.
  4. When finished, students compare pictures.

Ranking edit

Popularity rankings edit

  Search for Family Feud on Wikipedia.
  1. The teacher finds the results of some survey, such as the most popular hobbies.
  2. Students divide into teams.
  3. Each team speculates on the most likely ranking and presents it.
  4. The team with the most accurate ranking wins.

Race edit

A to Z edit

  1. Students divide into two teams.
  2. From A to Z, in each team, one student at a time thinks of a word beginning with that letter.
  3. The first team to reach Z wins.

Use themes to make this game more interesting and difficult.

The instructor may wish to omit Q and X.

Drawing competition edit

Face edit

  1. Students divide into teams. Each team has a drawing surface like a sheet of paper or a space on a whiteboard.
  2. The instructor calls out a facial feature, like "big ears."
  3. One student in each team draws it.
  4. The team with the best face wins.

Collaborative drawing edit

  1. One student or the instructor has a pen.
  2. Students describe something in the picture, such as "There is a mountain," and the person with the pen draws it.

Intermediate edit

Information gap edit

Guess the lie edit

  1. One student tells two true stories and one false story.
  2. Other students ask questions about details of the story.
  3. The student who can guess which is the false story wins.

Guess the category edit

  1. One student secretly chooses a category. It helps to present a list of categories to choose from beforehand. For example, "Things from China"
  2. That student names one thing that belongs to the category. For example, "Chinese noodles"
  3. The first student to guess the category wins.

Themed activities edit

Activities for beginners above can be given themes which make them more difficult and appropriate for intermediate level students.

  • A to Z: Students must think of a word related to a theme, or belonging to a certain part of speech.
  • Drawing games: The instructor calls out more complicated things to draw.