Select currency

  • Ukrainian hryvnia UAH
  • U.S.A dollar USD
  • Euro EUR
  • Polish zloty PLN
  • Serbian dinar RSD
  • Czech crown CZK
  • Hungarian forint HUF
  • Romanian leu RON
  • Israeli shekel ILS
  • Saudi riyal SAR
  • UAE dirham AED
  • Egyptian pound EGP
  • Turkish lira TRY
  • Malaysian ringgit MYR
  • Indonesian rupiah IDR
  • Vietnamese dong VND
  • Thai baht THB
  • South Korean won KRW
  • Japanese yen JPY
  • Kazakhstani tenge KZT
  • Argentine peso ARS
  • Brazilian real BRL
  • Chilean peso CLP
  • Colombian peso COP
  • Mexican peso MXN
  • Peruvian new sol PEN
  • Georgian lari GEL
  • Armenian dram AMD
  • Azerbaijani manat AZN
  • Uzbek sum UZS
  • Kyrgyzstani som KGS
  • Moldovan leu MDL
  • currencies.DOP DOP
All Right Blog Teacher Blog
Warm Up Activities & Games for ESL Lessons
AllRight article image

Warm Up Activities & Games for ESL Lessons

Become a teacher at!

  • Lots of students 4-12 y.o.
  • Class material 100% ready and updated
  • Competitive pay rates

ESL warm-up games are definitely used if you teach ESL. Veteran teachers may get bored with repeating the same ESL warm-ups repeatedly in class, while novice teachers frequently struggle to locate warm-ups for English classes that are engaging enough for pupils.

Whatever group you belong to, you could certainly use some fresh, engaging ESL warm-up exercises for your class.

Why are Warm-Ups Important for ESL Students?

Simply said, ESL warm-up games and activities are something you do for 5–10 minutes at the start of class to get your pupils settled and ready for the English lessons.

Because they establish the tone for the lesson and boost students' confidence, intermediate, advanced, and beginner ESL warm-up exercises are important.

ESL warm-up activities may not seem as critical as other aspects of your course, but they are essential for giving your students a sense of security when they are in your class and speaking English.

The correct warm-up exercises can help your students feel more at ease and confident, as well as make your session seem more enjoyable, whether you're teaching children or adults, a huge class, or just one student.

8 Fun ESL Warm-Up Activities & Games

Here are our 8 favorite ESL warm up activities for adults and kids as well:

1. Twenty inquiries

All levels of students
Lesson type: individual or group

In this traditional game, either the teacher or a designated student must think of something before the class can ask 20 yes or no questions to find out what they are thinking of.

It is also customary for participants to inquire whether the object in issue is an "animal, vegetable, or mineral" in order to assist reduce the options. A mineral is essentially everything that isn't an animal or plant.

It's possible for students to ask, "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" Does it have fur? Does it reside in water? "Are they students here?" to determine the solution.

Students may test out a ton of vocabulary while playing this game, which also aids with speaking and listening practice.

2. I Spy

Beginning to intermediate student level
Lesson type: individual or group

One person comes up with an idea for this game that they can see in the classroom. They might select the clock, for instance.

The "spyer" in a digital classroom can consider anything they can see on the screen or something they can see in the student's video's background.

Then they give everyone suggestions as to what they're thinking of without actually revealing what it is. This leads them to use phrases like "I spy something black and white" or "I spy something with two hands."

Everyone tries to guess the thing they're picturing, and the person who successfully guesses advances to the following round as the "spyer."

It gives students plenty of opportunities to apply vocabulary like colors, forms, numbers, sizes, and places, this game is best suited for beginning to advanced students.

3. Groupings

All levels of students
Lesson type: individual or group

This game is a fun variation on the board game Сategories. Your students can create their own categories rather than using ones that are predetermined. Younger pupils could be divided into categories based on animals, nouns, emotions, names, meals, weather, or clothing.

Advanced students might utilize more generic categories like means of transportation, items you might find in a park, or past tense verbs, as well as categories that are relevant to the course they are learning.

Each student will write the six categories they have created for the class on a piece of paper. Then the instructor selects a letter at random (you can find an online random letter generator here).

The teacher then sets a timer for two minutes, during which the class is instructed to come up with as many terms in each category that begin with the letter in question as possible.

For instance, if one of the categories was animals and the letter was B, a student may include Bear, Bee, Bird, Beetle, Barracuda, Banana Slug, etc.

Students read their writing aloud after the allotted time has passed. The same word must be crossed out by both students if they have it (you can omit this rule for younger students). Every original word that a student has earned them points.

This game is also simple to play in an online session and may be played in groups with larger class sizes.

4. The Alphabet Game

Beginning to intermediate student level
Lesson type: individual or group

To play this game, select a category (like places, animals, food, or names). As you move around the room, ask each student to mention one object from the specified category that begins with each letter of the alphabet.

Student A might respond, "Apples," 

Student B, "Bananas," 

Student C, etc. if the category was food.

If a student is having trouble coming up with a term for their letter, you can encourage collaboration. Letters like Q and Z might be challenging for younger pupils.

All levels of players can easily adapt this game to their needs. 

5. Hangman

Student level: Beginner to Intermediate

Type of lesson: group or individual

This ESL warm up activity is a classic for a reason. 

If you are unfamiliar with the rules of hangman, they are straightforward: the instructor (or a designated student) draws a "gallows" on the board (or on an online portal) and draws dotted lines for each letter in the word they have selected below, as shown:

ESL Warm Up Activities.png
The next step is for students to guess which letters make up the term. When a wrong guess is made, another portion of the "hangman" is drawn; however, when a right guess is made, the board is filled in as follows:

ESL Warm Up Activities (1).png

The class that correctly guesses the term wins. They lose if they guess before the teacher has finished sketching the hangman.

Hangman is a fantastic game since you can simply change how challenging or simple it is based on the word you select.

Also, you can use it to review the vocabulary phrases you learned in class!

6. Word Morphing

Beginner to Advanced student level
Lesson type: individual or group

In this straightforward word game, the teacher comes up with one word (typically a very straightforward 4-5 letter word, like "bake"), which the kids then change one letter at a time to form new words.


By attempting to create the longest chain possible or having students attempt to return to the original word while altering every letter and avoiding repetition, you can increase the difficulty and enjoyment of this game.

7. The Adjective Game

Beginner to Advanced student level
Lesson type: individual or group

If you don't have a ball, you can still play this game by simply going around in a circle.

If you're teaching online and working one-on-one, you can just switch back and forth. Each student in a small group may select an additional person to go after their turn if necessary.

When a person, animal, or object comes to mind, the teacher will share it with the class.

After that, the students will pass the ball among themselves, and if it lands on one of them, they must come up with a new adjective to explain what it is. The student is eliminated if they give an incomplete response or repeat an already-used adjective.

As an illustration, the instructor might use "dog" as their noun. The children would describe things by using adjectives like "furry," "four-legged," "friendly," "alive," "odd," and so on.

Any age group and degree of skill can enjoy and adapt to this game.

8. Beautiful Corpse

Beginner to Advanced student level
Lesson type: individual or group

Each participant in this cooperative storytelling game adds one sentence to a story.

The narrative may be absurd, strange, or senseless, and it almost certainly will be.

This game can be played in one of two ways: either each student writes their sentence in preparation, and then the entire class reads the story aloud, or each student delivers their sentence, and then the next person muses about what will happen next.

This activity is flexible and innovative, and it frequently yields outcomes that are quite enjoyable.

This ESL class warm-up is better suited for intermediate to advanced students because it is more difficult.

9. Name Game 

Have pupils form a circle while standing.

One student begins by introducing themselves and stating one quality about themselves, such as, "Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am extroverted." The following student then adds their name and word before repeating the first student's name and phrase.

The list of names and words gets longer as the game progresses, making it harder for kids to remember. After a pupil is unable to correctly repeat all names and adjectives, their turn is over.

10. Word Ladder

This exercise is excellent for improving vocabulary.

Students should take turns adding new words that are connected to the original word and modifying it one letter at a time. The starting word should be written on the board.

For instance, if the word "cat" is the first word, the following words might be "bat," "bit," "big," "bag," etc.

In conclusion, ESL warm-up games and activities play a crucial role in creating a positive and engaging learning environment for English language learners. Regardless of whether you are a seasoned teacher seeking to break the monotony of repetitive warm-ups or a novice instructor in search of exciting activities, incorporating fresh and engaging ESL warm-up exercises can significantly enhance your students' language learning experience.


1,000+ teachers trust!

  • Lots of students 4-12 y.o.
  • Class material 100% ready and updated
  • Competitive pay rates

Other interesting articles

What is TPR?
22 January 2024
Victoria Boyko