5 ESL Speaking Activities and Games for Adults

5 ESL speaking activities

5 ESL speaking activities


  • Speaking
  • Cambridge English
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

ESL teachers live in constant search of the best approaches and tools to explain certain topics and develop specific skills. Games and game-like activities are undoubtedly among the most favorite tools to teach both adults and children. 

In this article, we have collected 5 conversation exercises for ESL. So, without any further ado let’s go to the list of our ESL speaking activities.

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Two Truths, One Lie

Students come up with three facts about them. Two options are supposed to be true and one – false. Other students take turns guessing which of the facts are true and which – false.

Such ESL speaking activities are one of the easiest ways to motivate even the shyest people to speak and express themselves. It is a great ice-breaker and can be easily developed further into a group presentation on the most interesting true facts or exchanging the collected information etc.

Here is a great video on how you can implement such speaking exercises for ESL students into your lesson:

Never Have I Ever

I am sure you know this one!

The best ice-breaker that suits any company or environment is “Never Have I Ever”.

You might have played this game yourself at the party or during the first date, but it doesn’t mean you can turn it into one of the funniest speaking games for adults

The idea is the following: you have to come up with some strange or even ridiculous situations and say them out loud one by one starting each of them with the phrase “never have I ever”

Students should somehow express their experience: they can use their voice, signs, cards of different colors or emojis (if it is an online class). Afterwards, you may ask some follow-up questions and have an interesting and amusing conversation.

It doesn’t have to be an open-class activity. You may divide your students into groups or pairs and then collect the most interesting facts about their partners.

Here is an example of how this very game is used during a famous talk show with celebrities.

35 seconds

This fun ESL speaking activity consists of two stages.

The first one takes 5 seconds. After being given a category, students have five seconds to think of three items that fit within it. 

For instance, if the topic is “house”, the student may say something like “sofa”, “garden”, or “cozy”. Of course, it is not as easy as it seems because 5 seconds is not much time at all.

Anyway, as soon as 5 seconds are over and 3 words are collected, the partner of the previous student is supposed to compose a speech/story using these three words. They are allowed to do it for 30 more seconds.

This is a fun and competitive ESL speaking activity that helps to refocus students’ attention from being anxious about making mistakes to actually talking. It is absolutely OK if students make mistakes here. This activity’s priority is fluency rather than accuracy.

How to spice up your lessons?

Would You Rather

Another classic ice-breaker and a fun speaking game for adults is “Would you rather?”.

To enjoy this ESL speaking activity, you need to prepare some alternatives to choose from for your students. Students are supposed to make a quick decision and then justify their choice.

This game can be played in an openclass or groups and generally, it can be easily adjusted to different topics, needs, and audiences.

Here is, for example, how you can combine this activity with sport to make your young learners move a bit:


One player’s card in this game lists four words. The first is the hidden one, which cannot be used.

Getting a fellow player to pronounce this word is the aim of the game. Until another student discovers the hidden word, the student holding the card must describe this word.

The words that are most likely to be used to explain the secret word are the other three. All of them are “taboo,” meaning that a student cannot use them to explain the hidden word.

Two teams can compete in this game. It may be played in pairs as well. Based on the material you’ve been studying, you may either make your own sets of words or look for some ideas on the Internet.

This game often turns out to be very challenging but still fun, and most importantly, it truly makes students speak.

Discover some board games for your class

We do hope that this list of speaking exercises for ESL students will inspire you for more fun experiments in your ESL class. However, if you still wish you were more confident in implementing new activities and tools, you may gain the confidence you need with our TEFL online course.

Are games suitable for teaching adults?

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko


    Teacher of General English & IELTS



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