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EFL - ESL activities and games for teaching the present simple

This ESL lesson plan contains activities and games for practising the present simple with elementary level students (A2). Feel free to use these activity ideas in your ESL classes. And don't forget, if you use an iOS or Android device, you can get offline access to these materials through the TEFL Handbook app.

Lead-in activity

The focus of this sample ESL board work is on the grammar of the present simple along with its basic uses. As usual, it's colour-coded to suggest how the student-teacher interaction may play out in ESL classrooms.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for present simple | Elementary

ESL activities for teaching the present simple

Here are several activities that can be used to practise the present simple. If you know of any more, let us know through the site forum.

Complete the sentence

For this writing activity, the students will use the present simple to create statements from a list of prompts on the board.

Add the following to the board and have students make affirmative and negative sentences:

1. Jane / take the bus to School
2. I / like bacon sandwiches
3. He / study English in the morning
4. John / go to school
5. Claire and I / listen to the same music
6. It / have / big swimming pool
7. Dave and John / go / cinema every week

When finished, review as a group and if you can, elicit the L1 translation for each one.

Fact or routine?

This writing activity forces students to think about the functional uses of the present simple as they create sentences about themselves.

Start by explaining the difference between present simple statements of fact and routine. The students will then write five facts about themselves and five repeated actions. They should use a mix of positive and negative. As the students are completing the task, write some examples on the board to help them. Elicit as much as possible:

Teacher: Do I speak Chinese?
Student: No, you don't.
Teacher: (After writing 'I don't speak Chinese' on the board) Is this a fact, or routine?
Student: A fact!

I live in Scotland.
I don't like chocolate.
I've got brown hair.
I don't have a sister.

I don't do karate.
I sometimes go to the cinema.
I don't go swimming in the morning.
I get up at half-past eight.
I don't play sports in the evening.

Point and shout

Students report information about their partner using the present simple sentences from the previous task.

Following on from the previous activity, have the students swap books with a partner and report what they find. Before they begin, remind them of how verbs change in the present simple when switching tracks to the third person.

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Classroom games

Long sentence: Present simple 

A fun speaking game where students have to add to an ever-increasing statement. 

On each turn, a student must repeat all previous statements before adding their own. They can move around the room as they make the sentence. The only condition is that their statement must be in the present simple. The dialogue below is an illustration of how this might play out: 

Student A: I don't like eggs. 
Student B: She doesn't like eggs and I live in Spain. 
Student C: She doesn't like eggs, he lives in Spain and I don't have a skateboard.

More A2 level ESL lesson plans

Our suggested next lesson is on questions with the present simple. Be sure to check out our full list of ESL lesson plans for intermediate students, A2 lower and A2 upper, as well as our complete selection of EFL - ESL lesson plans. If you use an iOS or Android device, have a look at the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers. It has a lot more content and gives you faster access to our ESL resources, making it easier to use in class.

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