ESL Lesson Plans for High School: 4 Exciting Activities to Get Your Students Speaking Confidently
What does it take to build ESL lesson plans tailored for high school students?
It’s actually pretty simple: They need to be fun, challenging and rewarding for both you and your students.
More practically, they need to help students work together as a group while also building their own identities.
In this post, we are going to look at four effective lesson plans that’ll boost your ESL high school students’ confidence with English.
- 1. ESL Vision Board
- 2. Hobby Charades
- 3. Where Would You Go?
- 4. Hero Awards
- The Key to Teaching ESL for High School
1. ESL Vision Board
Your ESL high school students will gather their favorite magazine clippings and words relating to their English future. This lesson plan allows students to set English goals in a fun and powerful way.
The ESL Vision Board activity may extend to two days, depending on class time. It is good to carve out about two hours for this lesson plan to be fully effective. You will need to compile a variety of magazines for your students to browse and cut pictures and words out of. Many places like doctor offices, corporations and libraries will often donate outdated magazines for this activity.
A Closer Look at the ESL Vision Board Lesson Plan:
- Presentation. To give your students a good creative template, spend an evening creating your very own ESL Vision Board. Maybe you are teaching abroad and studying your students’ native language. A photo of someone exploring a city market abroad with the phrase “learning new cultures while learning a new language” may inspire your students to travel abroad to keep learning English.
Similarly, you can also give an actual example of your language learning goals: For example, find a photo of a landscape scene and name each thing in the photo using the language you are learning. This could be your students’ native language, and they may even find a mistake or two in your grammar, which is always a fun role reversal.
- Practice. Put your class into small groups of three or four. Each group will have a stack of magazines they will browse through together. This will allow them to communicate in English and discuss their individual language goals with others.
- Production. Once the student groups have a good plan in place with photos and English words cut out, let them loose to get creative. You can keep them in groups to enhance the communication aspect of the activity as well. Once their ESL Vision Boards are complete, they will present them in front of the class during the second hour of the lesson plan.
2. Hobby Charades
Your rowdy class of ESL high school students has a lot going on. They are studying to earn that high school degree, keeping up with friends on social media and filling their free time with loads of hobbies.
So what better way to apply practical English than discussing hobbies? The Hobby Charades lesson plan can be easily completed in one hour, and you can always extend it to two classes if your ESL high school students are excited and engaged.
Take an hour and develop a fun worksheet with pictures and designated areas for your students to list their hobbies and make sentences with those. Here is a great ESL teacher resource for you to draw from.
To spark creativity, put a few pictures of hobbies at the top of the worksheet. Then make a line down the center of the worksheet, serving as the two areas your students will use to put their hobbies on paper.
Half of the Hobby Charades worksheet will be for brainstorming and writing hobbies down. You can label this at the top as “Hobbies to Explore.” The other half of the worksheet will be for those Hobby Charade sentences. You can label this half of the worksheet “Hobbies in Action.”
A Closer Look at the Hobby Charades Lesson Plan:
- Presentation. Once your Hobby Charades worksheet is complete, fill one out yourself and share it with your class. Then you will pick one student to act out one of your hobbies, letting his or her classmates guess what it is. This will give your students a clear idea of how to write and explain their hobbies.
- Practice. Pass out the worksheet and let your students add their favorite hobbies and write complete sentences.
- Production. Once all students have completed their worksheets, separate your class into two groups and have students from Group A exchange their worksheets with students from Group B. Then one student from Group A will act out a hobby from a student’s worksheet from Group B, and his or her teammates will need to guess what that hobby is. This will continue until the hobbies run out or class time finishes.
3. Where Would You Go?
Nearly every high school student has travel on their mind. They are growing into adulthood and want to explore the world and experience cultures different from their own. Where Would You Go? is a fun lesson plan to get your ESL high school students chatting about their English future.
After all, many of your students may have aspirations to travel to English-speaking countries and strut their ESL skills in a powerful way. You may even be teaching ESL to foreign students in a native English-speaking country.
A Closer Look at the Where Would You Go? Lesson Plan:
- Presentation. Think about where you would go (if you could go anywhere), then prepare a short presentation for your students. This will allow them to begin thinking about where, why and what. You may even find an opening question useful to start the conversation, such as, “What are some places in the world that interest you?”
- Practice. Next, let your ESL high school students do a bit of brainstorming. Let them think on their own and also encourage them to ask you and other classmates questions. Here are a few example questions for travel.
- Production. When your students are ready, put them into small groups to share where they would like to go in the future. Give them about ten minutes before you throw a secret wrench into the conversation:
Approach a group and ask one student where one of his or her group mates would like to go. Then ask why they want to go there. You will follow this up by asking another student and this will give them the ability to start thinking on their toes in English.
4. Hero Awards
The Hero Awards ESL lesson plan is a great way to get your high school students thinking deeply in English, as well as having them think about what values a good person has.
This lesson plan is perfect for two one-hour classes, which will give your students time to prepare their presentations.
Your students will need to choose one person, past or present, to be the recipient of a Hero Award. However, you will need to present your own person first. You can use this information to draw ideas for this lesson.
A Closer Look at the Hero Awards Lesson Plan:
- Presentation. First things first, show your ESL high school students a picture of someone with a Hero Award. Explain to your students what that person has done, and why you chose them to be your Hero Award recipient. This allows your ESL high school students to begin thinking about their very own presentations.
- Practice. After your presentation, open the classroom up for questions, then pair your students up and let them begin their Hero Award creative process. They can discuss, collaborate and bounce ideas off their partners. They can also begin practicing their presentations with their partners toward the end of the class period.
- Production. Students will present their Hero Award and also take any questions from their classmates. This will give them invaluable public speaking skills they can use with both English and their native language.
The Key to Teaching ESL for High School
Your ESL students are not only learning the skills they need to succeed after high school. They are also engaged in developing their personal and cultural identities and figuring out how to fit in as adults. It is important to harness this energy: Combine their urges to identify themselves with ESL lesson plans, and you have your teaching work cut out for you.
Teaching ESL high school students can be a very rewarding moment in any teacher’s career: You get to be part of your students’ growth into adults and often help them achieve their goals of reaching university-level academia.
To make your lessons even more relatable—these are teenagers, after all—you can also show them popular English videos and articles related to the activities. For instance, FluentU’s English program has hundreds of diverse video clips from movies, TV series, songs and more, and they’re all learner-friendly because they come with interactive subtitles and quizzes.
Take advantage of these unique resources for your high school students and get them learning English in fun and exciting ways!