Here’s one simple yet effective ESL activity that builds a community among the students. It also allows the mentors to openly gauge the pupils’ English speaking skills. Ideally, it is used for first-time meetings as well as having two groups or classes interact with each other for a wider scope of language exercises.
To start off, divide the class into pairs of two. Have each of the students pair off with another person to whom they aren’t familiar or have not met before. Instruct them that for the next 10 minutes, they have to get to know about the other person and vice versa. Take note that they should only use English in both asking and answering questions.
After the allotted 10 minutes, each couple should stand and take turns introducing each other with whatever information they have learned from the interview portion. For bigger classes of more than 20 students, cluster the pupils into 3 pairs or 6 students in each group to keep the activity short and meaningful.
For beginners and for the younger pupils, the teacher can provide the class with a couple of questions to get the conversation going in between the partners. Kids can be asked to share their favorite English joke or riddle while those young-at-heart can talk about their favorite English movie, song, or novel.
With the activity, the teacher can get a clearer assessment of each student’s communication skills as well as each one’s own personality. The proceeding lessons and ESL activities can be tailored to suit the class’ own level and pace, making the classes more effective.
The students also get to bond with their fellow learners, getting a more comfortable atmosphere inside the classroom. Not only do they get to practice their English-speaking skills but they also get their ears accustomed to the new language. The activity also leaves them with lesser room for shyness and awkwardness, as they each get to hear how their own classmates communicate in English.
As with any other ESL activity, this can be modified and customized to fit various classroom scenarios. Have the students report in pairs right after a film showing or a field trip; start clustered discussion groups about a controversial news article. Increasing the interaction among other class members help in making the pupils more comfortable in speaking English as well as in listening to English.