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EFL - ESL activities and games for teaching the countable and uncountable nouns

This A2 ESL lesson plan contains activities, games and other resources for teaching countable and uncountable nouns. The recommended way to use these materials is through the TEFL Handbook app, which gives you offline access to everything on this site.

Lead-in activity

This ESL board work can be used to highlight the differences between the handling of countable and uncountable nouns. The colour-coded text highlights opportunities to elicit responses from your students.

EFL - ESL Lead-in activity for countable and uncountable | Elementary

ESL classroom activities for countable and uncountable nouns

Food table 

A pairwork activity where the students brainstorm food-related vocabulary and classify each as countable or uncountable. 

Start by creating a table on the board with the columns countable and uncountable and tell the students to copy it to their notebooks. Next, elicit the different food categories (e.g. meat, fish, fruit, veg, drink and other) and add these to the bottom of the board. 

Step through each of the categories and ask your students to give you a few examples. Finally, split the class into pairs and have them complete the table with as much vocabulary as they can think of.

Food expressions 
For this speaking task, the students will learn some useful food-related expressions. 

One at a time, add the expressions below to the board (a bowl of, a glass of, etc.). Use drawings or mime to elicit their meaning and ask for examples of food and drink related to each one. When complete, the board might look like the following: 

A bowl of: cereal, porridge, fruit, rice, soup 
A box of: cereal, chocolates, 
A bottle of: water, wine, lemonade 
A cup/mug of: tea, coffee, hot chocolate 
A packet of: crisps, biscuits 
A glass of: milk, wine, lemonade 
A can of: Coke, tomatoes, soup 
A slice of: cake, bread, pizza

What did you eat? 

The students first write about what they ate yesterday before reporting on what another classmate had. 

First, pre-teach the concepts healthy and unhealthy and elicit different foods related to each category. Next, have the students write down what they ate yesterday. Before they begin, give an outline of the structure and language that you want them to use: 

In the morning/For breakfast I ate/had... 
At lunchtime I ate/had some/a few... 

Once the students have finished writing, they can switch books with a partner. They must then report to the class what their partner ate yesterday in the third person singular. 

After everybody has finished reporting, have a class discussion about who the students think has the healthiest/unhealthiest diet and why.

Out for dinner 

A role-play activity where the students pretend to order food at a restaurant. 

With help from the class, create a menu on the board, complete with prices. Include the sections startersmain coursesdesserts and drinks. Elicit whether each item is countable or uncountable 

Students at this level may already know some useful phrases, so try to get some examples from them before adding a few of your own to the board. Use L1 if you can. Here are a few examples you can give them: 

Customer 
I'm fine thanks. 
For the starter, main course... 
I'd like the ____ please? 
Can I have____please? 
Do you have ____ ? 
How is/are ____? 
Yes, thank you. 
Here you are. 

Waiter 
Good afternoon, sir/madam. 
How are you? 
Can I help you? / Are you ready to order? 
What about dessert? 
Do you want anything to drink?/Would you like anything to drink? 
Anything else?/and what about the main course? 
They're/it's really good/delicious/amazing 
What about dessert? 
Thank you. 
Enjoy!. 

Once students are familiar with the dialogue, they can come to the front of the class to act out a restaurant scene. If possible, arrange the chairs and use props. Make it interesting and encourage each student to order something different.

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Related games

Stop the bus 

Two teams of students race to think of different food types that begin with a randomly allocated letter. 

Start by dividing the class into pairs or teams of three to four. Draw a table on the board with the headings meatfishfruitvegdrink and other. Each group creates a copy. In every round, students must find a word to go in each category that begins with a randomly chosen letter. The first team to finish, shouts "Stop the bus!" and the round is over. 

Since your students' vocabulary might be limited in this area, you might want to consider setting a time limit. 

When the round is over, count up the scores like so: 

20 points: Correctly spelt a word that the other team doesn't have. 
15 points: Correctly spelt a word that the other team also has. 
10 points: Incorrectly spelt a word that the other team doesn't have. 
5 points: Incorrectly spelt a word that the other team has.

More A2 level ESL lesson plans

We hope that you've found a few of these ideas useful. Our suggested next lesson is about expressing quantities. Be sure to check out our complete list of elementary level ESL lesson plans, A2 lower and A2 upper, as well as our entire collection of ESL lesson plans. Also, if you are an iOS or Android user, this lesson plan is available for free on the TEFL Handbook app. An ESL lesson planner for English teachers.

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