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15 lesson ideas for teaching junior EFL students – Part 3

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Keeping lesson content interesting is a key tactic which is essential to help our young learners recall important learning outcomes from the summer. Our Embassy Summer Academic Coordinator, Philip Warwick, has prepared 15 lesson ideas you too can adopt with your junior EFL students. This is part three of three. Read part 2 here and part 1 here.

11. Nim. Nim is an ancient game that originated in Greece. It involves two players removing a number of sticks from a selection of rows in turn. The loser is the person who is forced to take the last stick. When it is your turn you can remove as many sticks as you like but only from one row. (Play the game with the teachers on the board, then get them to practice in pairs while you write the following on the whiteboard 🙂

When you are old and tired and people around

You tend to ignore your polite requests and queries

Leaving you very alone and fearful of the many dangers

That could lay silently in wait for you just like

All the other grandfathers sitting on their chocolate covered sofas

Divide the teachers into two teams and tell them that they will play the game again, but this time with words not sticks. Allocate 20 points to each team. Each team has 45 seconds to discuss and remove a word or words from the whiteboard (BUT ONLY FROM ONE LINE AT ANY TIME). If the other team are not sure that it is a grammatically correct utterance then they can challenge the opposition to read the utterance (adding any punctuation they want). If one team can’t go or make a mistake then they lose a point, the team that takes the last word loses 10 points. This is a good activity for higher level learners.

12. Take One Add Two. Write the following on the board:

My brother arrived home last night and found a strange man sitting on his leather sofa.

Arrange the teachers into two or more teams. Each team has 30 seconds to replace one of the words in the sentence with two new words (e.g. My brother – His older brother/ arrived home – came back home.) Make sure that you have plenty of space between the words and use two different colours to highlight the original and new words.

13. Running stories. Divide the class into teams. Give one board marker to each team. Get the teams to stand up and touch the wall directly opposite the whiteboard. Divide the board in sections (one for each team) as follows:

Team A Team B Team C Team D

Then start telling a story (e.g. ‘John was sitting under a tree reading a book’) then at an appropriate moment shout: ‘go!’ The team member with the pen has to run up to the board and visualize the story as quickly as possible, then run back and pass the pen onto the next team member. The teacher will then continue to tell the story, stopping at various moment to get another team member to add something to the picture. At the end the teacher will point to the teams picture (which will probably be quite messy) and elicit what each scrawl is, allocating one point for each sensible answer.

14.Stop. This is another standard EFL activity. Write a list of 8 categories on the board (they can vary depending on the level) and then give the students either a letter or a phoneme. They have to write one word or phrase for at least 5 categories that starts with the letter or contains the phoneme (depending on which version you play). When a team has at least 5 it can shout ‘stop!’ this is the signal for all teams to stop writing. The teacher then elicits answers for each of the categories and awards 1 point for each answer or 2 points for an answer that no other team has. The activity is repeated with a different letter or phoneme (but the same categories).

Example of Categories

Example of categories for higher level learners


You Can Die

Of/From Something You Can Fit In Your Pocket A Language A Plant Something Connected With Kai En Something You Miss A Type of Music An Urban Problem

Example of categories for lower level learners

A Colour A Country An Animal Something In The Classroom Something You Can Eat or Drink A Sport An Adjective A Job

15.Random Role-Play. Put the students in a circle and hand out some blank slips of paper (one to each student). Get them to write either F or M in the bottom left-hand corner, then tell them to write either an English Male (if they’ve written an M) or Female (if they’ve written an F) on the top of the paper. Next get them to pass their paper to the right, then have them add extra information from your prompts according to their level (e.g., write down the age, any distinguishing features, hobbies, salary, things they don’t like, a dark secret, places they’ve been, jobs they’ve done etc.) – constantly getting them to change cards. When you feel that they have enough information on the slips of paper you can use them to conduct a role-play (e.g. speed dating, job interviews etc.)

If you’re looking for some new ideas to connect with your young English learners, I hope that this list has given you a few things to try out. These are just a few of the activities that I like to use in my classes – do you have any favorites that you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment below and let me know what they are. Thanks for reading!


Phil first started working at Embassy when there was just one school in Hastings, back in 1990 – during his time there he has worked in many roles, from teacher to head of vacation education to teacher trainer and then finally over to Embassy Summer, where he has Academic Coordinator for UK schools since 2007. 

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