Sentence Building

This is especially for the lower levels, but upper levels can benefit from this as well. With ESL, making sentences can be difficult especially if students don’t understand what each part of a sentence is and why. Here are some sentence building activities and strategies to try. Practice makes perfect!

  1. Stretch a Sentence – please click on link. This is a good way for students to create longer sentences and understand the ordering of a sentence.
  2. Categories (subject) – there are many ways to create categories, but for a simple example, students can focus on subject. Subject means who is the sentence about? Who is doing the action? Brainstorm different kinds of subjects. Subjects CAN be non-living things or places! But to start out easy, maybe just write about people and things. You can mind map subjects. Have students find subjects in sentences in their reading, creating them, in their gallery book, etc. They can highlight or make a shape to represent subject.
  3. Categories (verb) – going off of subject, the same can apply for verbs. Have students brainstorm what verbs are. You could also include a mini lesson on tenses if there is time. Again, students can highlight or draw shapes when finding verbs. Explain that verbs can also be internal, not always physically outward. ex: felt, heard, love, think, etc.
  4. Categories (object) – object can be very tricky as sometimes, object is an object phrase. More information about its role here.
  5. Order of Adjectives – this can be a fun activity for students as this can make for a veryyyyy looongggg sentence! In English, we use adjectives in a specific order, otherwise it doesn’t sound right. The order usually follows: Quantity or number, Quality or opinion, Size, Age, Shape, Color, Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material), Purpose or qualifier as described on this website. example: There were five, ugly, large, 1-month-old, square, brown, German, cardboard, art boxes. Have students describe something very simple but by using as many of these adjectives in order. Students can then draw a picture of that object. Some worksheets to get you started can be found here.
  6. Unscrambling – unscrambling sentences forces students to really understand the meaning of words and the order of a sentence. You can definitely create your own in class or there are several worksheets (some fill in the blank) that can be writing or even cut out and glue. Site 1. Site 2.

Pronunciation Practice

One area in ESL / EFL that sometimes needs practice is pronunciation. And pronunciation is NOT always easy!

Throughout my daily lessons, I would touch on pronunciation by romanizing words that students may be having troubles with.

For example:

Penguin [pang-gwin]

I would write the brackets with the sounds that students are familiar with. It’s a shame English isn’t one of those language where it is always read how it’s spelt / spelled. 😉

Some words to try:

Because [beecuz]

Choir [kwahyer]

Talked (or most -ed words!) [tockt]

Business [bizniss]

Film [film] NOT FILLUM

Jewelry [joowelree]

It isn’t hard to incorporate this into your readings, when speaking, or discussing vocabulary words. This will also encourage students not to rely on Korean for English pronunciation. Students sometimes write the Korean ‘sounds’ for English words but Korean ≠ English and English ≠ Korean. Hopefully romanizing with English sounds and letters will reiterate that you cannot take a foreign language and substitute it with the native language all the time (note: all the time; there will be times of course).

Synonym vs Antonym

This mini-lesson can help all levels across the board. It shouldn’t take too long to discuss with students. You could simply just tell them: S = SAME, A = OPPOSITE. They could remember it this way.


If you want to make an actual mini-lesson from this topic because there is extra time or your students are really needing the guidance…

  1. Synonyms & Antonyms Worksheets is a website where you can find a PDF to print**
  2. You could create a class game where you write a word on the board. Students can mind map similarities (synonyms) and opposites (antonyms).
  3. To branch off of number 2, you could also simply just write a word, two other words paired with it and ask which is antonym and which is synonym. For example:

Word: RUN

Two words: SLEEP ; JOG

SLEEP would be the antonym and JOG would be a synonym.

Some sample words to try: FAST, CLEAN, QUIET, SCARED, SICK, PRETTY, UGLY, etc.

**I could not upload specific PDFs from this website due to copyright and terms of use issues, so please browse around and find one appropriate for your class.

The Listening Game

The Listening Game is very simple and free-for-all! Only a pencil and listening ears are required for students. Teachers can use scratch paper and a pencil for this activity.

Where there are 4 boxes, you can use them one by one or use them all if you’d like. Some examples of listening you could do are…

  1. Draw a small circle next to number 2.
  2. Write your name in box number 4.
  3. In the lower right hand corner of number 1, write the word ‘orange’.
  4. Draw a line up and down the middle of box number 3.
  5. Draw one big square over all of the boxes.
  6. Write the number 7 next to number 1.

For an extra challenge, you could include questions about the book where they need to write or draw answers. You may have to explain the names (box, number, corner, etc.) and rules of this activity. Another idea could be to do one box together and get progressively harder as you go.

The ideas are limitless. It would also be great for the teacher to draw along on scratch paper so when everyone is finished, they can compare with the teacher and with each other.