Essential Summer Vocabulary Word List for ESL Learners

It’s summer!

It’s whole new season of fun things to do. Time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine!

And to get ready, you can learn some essential summer vocabulary words for ESL students. 

So, put on your sunscreen and let’s go!

Getting a Suntan

You might enjoy cooling off in a lake, river, or even an ocean beach if you live near water.  But if you don’t, you probably will want to go to a swimming pool.


As long as you have a water source at your house, you have a place to play. You can turn on a hose, point it in the air, and run through the water as it falls. In some places with lawns, people like to water their grass with sprinklers. Children love jumping around in the water jets.


You will want to wear clothes designed for swimming called bathing suits. Some are very modest and cover most of the body, while others show lots of skin. Some young women enjoy wearing small bathing suits called bikinis.

If you wear a bikini, you might like to sit by the pool or lake and soak up the rays. That just another term for sunbathing or laying out.  All these phrases have to do with letting the sun turn pale skin darker.

As you already know, lots of native English speakers have pale skin. However, many want to have a healthy glow. That means that want to get just a little bit darker: enough get rid of a pasty white but not so dark that their skin burns.


They put on sunscreen or suntan lotion to protect their skin while playing outside, especially near water. The lotion allows for just a little bit of a suntan but not too much.

essential summer vocabulary esl suntan lotion

You don’t have to lie still to get a suntan. You can also get a tan when exercising outside. Check out this vocabulary word list about ESL slang related to health and fitness.

Cheering Your Favorite Sports Team

In the United States, baseball players are called the boys of summer. Watching baseball is a favorite summer activity.

You can watch children in Little League games, which are baseball programs just for young people. Girls play a version of baseball called softball, meaning the ball is somewhat softer and larger, but the rules are pretty much the same.

All these types of baseball are played in community parks in big cities and small towns all through the summer.

Or, you can watch professional players compete in huge stadiums in major North American and Asian cities.

essential summer vocabulary esl baseball

Football or soccer is not usually played in most countries during the summer months, although the FIFA World Cup is typically held in June or July.

Click the image below for a fun English video about the World Cup hosted by Brazil in the summer of 2014.

essential summer vocabulary esl

Cooling off with Iced Drinks

It can get hot in the summer so you may want to cool off with an ice dessert.

North American children like to have snow cones. Shaved ice is packed in paper cup or cone. In Asia, cold sweet beans or fruit might be poured on top. In North America, a super-sweet, brightly colored syrup is poured over the ice.

essential summer vocabulary esl snow cone

That same sweet syrup can be frozen on stick and becomes an ice pop.

essential summer vocabulary esl ice cream pops

Americans particularly love lots of ice in their drinks, including iced coffee and iced tea.

essential summer vocabulary esl iced tea

Lemonade is perfect summer drink and so easy to make. Just squeeze fresh lemons so you have lots of juice.  Pour the lemon juice over ice. Add water and sugar till you get the balance of sweet and tart that tastes good to you.

Camping and Fishing

Families all over the world like to go on a short vacation and spend the night camping outside.

You need a tent or something to cover you in case it rains. You need a sleeping bag to keep you warm if nights are cool or at least a mosquito net to protect you from bugs.

essential summer vocabulary esl sleeping bag tent

You need a campfire to make food or to help you stay warm. Campfires are also great places to gather with friends to sing and tell stories.  Really big campfires are called bonfires and are popular in Europe.

S’mores are a favorite camping treat. Start with an American graham cracker or a British biscuit, and a square of sweet chocolate.

Get a long green stick or thin metal rod. Stick a marshmallow on the end.

Let your fire burn down to coals and toast the marshmallow over the heat. Don’t let it burn. When it is brown, carefully place the toasted marshmallow on the cookie with the chocolate. Now, enjoy your s’more! The treat gets its name because you always want ‘some more.’

essential summer vocabulary esl campfire

If you are camping near a lake or river, you might want to try fishing and cooking your catch on your campfire. Bring a fishing pole or rod, and bait to attract the fish.

essential summer vocabulary esl fishing rod

But, cleaning the fish to get it ready to cook is a messy job. You may want to just want to catch and release, which means to hook the fish but then to throw it back into the water. You still have all the fun of fishing.

essential summer vocabulary esl clean fish

Catching Fireflies

You know about fireflies if you live in place that has tall grass and is humid and warm. Fireflies appear everywhere from Malaysia to Tennessee in the United States.

The male fireflies glow their tails to attract the females’ attention.

To catch fireflies, turn off all the lights and get away from campfires. Get a glass jar and poke holes in the lid. Place a damp piece of cloth or paper in the bottom with grass.

essential summer vocabulary esl fireflies

The best time to catch fireflies is just after the sun goes down. Work with a friend. One can catch the fireflies by covering them with cupped hands or by scooping them in a net. The other can move the firefly into the jar and secure the lid. Make sure the fireflies have enough air to breathe.

If you catch enough fireflies, the light from your jar will be bright enough to read by.

Make sure to set the fireflies free within a day.

Playing Miniature Golf

essential summer vocabulary esl mini golf

Mini-golf, crazy golf, or putt-putt courses are popping up all over the world. These are great summer activities for families and friends.

Much of the putt-putt vocabulary is the same as for regular golf. You have a putter to tap the ball into a hole. A hole-in-one means you get the ball in the hole on your first try. You try to at least make par, or the number of strokes expected per hole.

The difference between miniature golf and regular golf is that the course is on artificial turf and each hole must be played on a maze-like track. You have to work around obstacles, such as windmills, water tunnels, slides, and concrete turns.

It’s a great summer activity to play with people who just want to have fun. Sometimes these courses have themes, such as pirates or castles, while others are indoors and decorated with neon lights.

You have lots of options on ways to spend your summer. Most important, summer is a great time to be happy.

Make sure you check out this post on advanced English vocabulary on being happy.


When we think of summer, we automatically think of the beach. There are very few people who don’t love the beach and for those of you lucky enough to live by the sea, you’ll be definitely catching some rays (getting nice and brown under the sun) this year.

essential summer vocabulary esl

Barefoot (Adj) – To be without shoes…who wants to wear shoes on the beach?

Sally and Mike are getting married on the beach. It will be a casual affair and they’ll be barefoot.


essential summer vocabulary esl cool off

Cool off (V) – To make yourself cooler either by sitting under an umbrella, going for a swim or sitting in a room where there’s air-con.

I’m going for a swim. I need to cool off.


essential summer vocabulary esl cone

Cone (N) – A triangle shaped biscuit that you put ice-cream inside.

Little Jonny started crying because he dropped his ice-cream cone in the sand.


essential summer vocabulary esl floaties

Floaties (N) – The air rings that small children wear on their arms to help them stay above the water.

I used to hate wearing floaties when I was a kid. I just wanted to swim like all the adults.


essential summer vocabulary esl frisbee

Frisbee (N) – A small flat disc that people throw to each other on the beach.

I love going to the beach and playing Frisbee with my dog in the summer.


essential summer vocabulary esl

Jet ski (N) – Like a motorbike on water.

If you’re under 16 years of age, you cannot go on a jet ski alone.


essential summer vocabulary esl lifeguard

Life guard (N) – The person who patrols the beach and helps anyone who gets into danger.

The life guard blew his whistle to tell the people they were swimming too far away.


essential summer vocabulary esl lifejacket

Life jacket (N) – The yellow or orange jacket full of air that people wear on boats to keep them safe.

It’s illegal to have a trip in a small boat without wearing a life jacket.


essential summer vocabulary esl pebbly

Pebbly (Adj) – To describe something with many small stones.

The Greek beaches are beautiful. The only problem is that many of them are pebbly and uncomfortable to walk on.

Popsicle  (N) – The flavored ice on a stick that will help you cool down in the heat.

I have great memories of going to the beach with my grandparents when we were younger. They would always buy us popsicles.


essential summer vocabulary esl sandcastle

Sandcastle (N) – A castle made out of sand.

Kids love to spend time playing in the sand and making sandcastles.

Sandy (Adj) – When something is covered in sand.

They chose to get married on a sandy beach in Turkey. It was the perfect place for a destination wedding.


essential summer vocabulary esl tropics

Seashore (N) – Beach

Every summer my family and I go to the seashore. I can’t imagine not going to the beach in the  summer.


essential summer vocabulary esl shade

Shade (N) – Areas that create shadow and protect you from the sun and heat.

I’m going to have to go and sit in the shade; I can feel my skin burning.


essential summer vocabulary esl sunburn

Sunburn (N) – When you have too much sun and your skin turns red.

I’ve got terrible sunburn from not wearing enough sunscreen so I will have to give the beach a miss today (not go to the beach today).

Sunscreen (N) – The cream that you can put on your body to protect yourself from getting burned.

I always wear sunscreen with SPF 30. I have sensitive skin and burn easily.


essential summer vocabulary esl take a dip

Take a dip (V) – To go for a quick swim.

I’m going to take a quick dip and then I’ll come home.


essential summer vocabulary esl beach towel

Towel (N) – The thing you use to dry your body after going for a swim.

My towel is wet. I have to lay it out in the sun for it to dry.


essential summer vocabulary esl waves

Waves (N) – The motion of the water. The opposite of flat sea.

My brother always wants to go where the waves are. He’s a surfer.



essential summer vocabulary esl attendant

Attendants (N) – The waiters who serve you at the side of the pool.

The attendants at our resort are really busy because of all the guests.


essential summer vocabulary esl peak season

Peak season (N) – The busiest period when tourists visit a place.

July and August are the peak season months. This is when everything becomes more expensive.

Pool (N) – The manmade place where you can swim in a hotel.

I prefer swimming in the pool rather than the sea. I can’t stand salt water.

Rates (N) – The prices in a particular season.

The rates of the resort are always higher in the summer months.


essential summer vocabulary esl sun lounger

Sun lounger (N) – The outdoor bed that you lie on in the sun.

We had to wake up early to make sure we got the sun loungers we wanted by the pool.


essential summer vocabulary esl tip

Tip (V/N) – To leave a gift of money to say thank you for the service.

We left a $5 tip because the service was great.



essential summer vocabulary esl bathing suit

Bathing suit (N) – A full-piece swimsuit for women.

My grandmother always wears a bathing suit because she doesn’t feel comfortable showing so much skin.


essential summer vocabulary esl bikini

Bikini (N) – A two-piece swimsuit for girls.

I always wear a bikini when I go to the beach because it’s easier to get a tan.


essential summer vocabulary esl board shorts

Board shorts (N) – The surfer style shorts boys or men wear.

My brother just bought a great pair of Rip Curl board shorts for swimming this summer.


essential summer vocabulary esl flip flops

Flip flops (N) – Japanese style sandals that are worn at the beach.

No one wears shoes when they go to the beach. You can only see people who are barefoot or wearing flip flops.


essential summer vocabulary esl shorts

Shorts (N) – Short pants.

Everyone wears shorts in the summer because it’s too hot to wear jeans.


essential summer vocabulary esl tank top

Tank top (N) – A tee-shirt with no sleeves (arms).

When you wear a tank top, your arms get nice and  brown.



essential summer vocabulary esl

Blistering heat (N) – Really hot.

No one stays in the city during the summer because of the blistering heat.


essential summer vocabulary esl breeze

Breeze (N) – A light refreshing wind.

I love being by the sea because there’s always a breeze and I don’t get too hot.

Heat wave (N) – An unexpected period of extreme heat.

We’re experiencing a heat wave at the moment and that’s why everyone’s at the beach every day.

Humid (Adj) – When the air has water in it and it’s very hot.

In many parts of Europe it’s very humid in the summer and it’s easy to sweat.


essential summer vocabulary esl scorching hot

Scorching hot (Adj) – Very hot.

It’s scorching hot today and every one is swimming in the pool.



essential summer vocabulary esl backpacking

Backpacking (N) – When people travel with big bags on their backs. It’s a cheap way to travel.

This summer Jenny and Mike are going backpacking through the South of France.


essential summer vocabulary esl barbecue

Barbeque (V/N) To grill your food outdoors.

One of my dad’s favorite things to do in the summer is to barbeque steak.


essential summer vocabulary esl berries

Berries (N) – Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries are all summer fruits and examples of berries.

I don’t like eating sweet things in the summer other than berries in yoghurt. It’s really refreshing.


essential summer vocabulary esl campground

Campground (N) – The place where many people go to camp.

The campground was full when they got there, so they pitched their tent on the beach.

Fishing rod (N) – The long stick you use for fishing.

Tim just got a new fishing rod for his birthday and he hopes to go fishing this weekend.


essential summer vocabulary esl fresh produce

Fresh produce (N) – Fresh fruit and vegetables.

If you visit Greece or Italy in the summer months, you’ll be treated to a great choice of fresh produce.


essential summer vocabulary esl hiking

Hiking (N) – Walking in the mountains.

Many people enjoy hiking in the summer because the mountains are usually cooler than the beach.

Hiking trail (N) – The path you walk on when you go hiking.

We’re going to go on an easy (hiking) trail because it is our first time.

Journey (N) – A short day trip.

The car journey was very boring and the kids continued to argue in the back.


essential summer vocabulary esl pitch

Pitch (V) – To build/to put up

We should pitch our tent here away from the water.

Tent (N) – What you sleep in when you go camping.

Rick has a two-man tent. You can share it with him when you go camping.


These are just a few of the essential English words to boost your vocabulary and talk about summer. Find more by watching the native English language videos found on the FluentU program.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Click here to check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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Now, what are you waiting for? Grab your Ipod, towel and book and hit the beach!

Have a great summer and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.

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