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ESL Lesson Activities for Upper-Intermediate Students on Talking About Recreational Activities

A class of ESL students talking to each other.

A class of ESL students talking to each other.

Objectives of the ESL Lesson Plan

This ESL Lesson Plan is designed to create a social situation in which ESL students practice speaking in English. It also aims at developing vocabulary and language skills on the subject of recreation. Some of the recreational activities discussed within this ESL activity will have differences between cultures. For example the activity of karaoke takes different forms depending on whether you are in a western country or a country such as China. Within this lesson karaoke is purposely describe the way that it is done in western cultures rather than the way KTV is done in China. This is intended to allow for discussion of cultural differences. The lesson also is intended to give practice with casual conversation as well as sentence structures that give suggestions.

How to Use this Activity

This lesson is intended to last for one hour. Most of the lesson will be devoted to the main activity. Each student will be given a role and must use the sentence structures you teach to engage the other students in conversation. This lesson is designed for class of twenty upper-intermediate students and above. However a class with mixed levels will probably do well. If you have more than twenty this should still be fine. You can modify the lesson depending on the number of students. The main activity is similar to a “find someone who” activity but will work more like a giant game of tag.

Preparation Before Class

Before class copy and paste the handout section of this article into a word document and save. Print the handout and cut it into 20 role strips. You may need to adjust the spacing between some of the roles for them to print properly.

ESL Lesson Plan Outline

  1. At the start of the class ask the students to tell you what they plan to do tonight or what recreational activities they enjoy. Write some of these activities on the board.
  2. Teach the sentence structures you want the students to practice. Some possible sentences or sentence structures include.

    What are you doing tonight?

    What are your plans for tonight?

    I'm ________ what are you doing?

    You should____________ with me.

    You should _____________ with us.

    We're __________ you should join us.

    That sounds like fun. I think I'll join you.

    That sounds like fun but I think I'll pass tonight.

    That sounds good but I have other plans.

  3. Use the sentences you've just taught to model a conversation with a random student.
  4. Explain that you're going to have an activity in which everyone will have a role. In their role they will each have a recreation that they want to do tonight and will need to convenience others to do the same activity with them.
  5. Give each student one of the strips of paper cut from the handout. This is their activity that they must convince others to do. Some of these activities will require a bit of explaining on your part. For example you will probably have to explain what a LAN party is. If you feel that this one might be too difficult you can replace it with another activity.
  6. Once the students understand what they are doing and understand their role make everyone stand up. Get rid of the chairs if possible. You want everyone to be able to walk around the room talking to each other. You should walk around the room and help explain things as necessary. If you see people hanging out in clusters try to break them up so that they talk to everyone.
  7. The main activity can be considered a giant game of tag. Everyone should be attempting to convert others to do their recreational activity. In the last ten minutes of the class stop the game and find out who has the greatest number of converts. You can also use this time to answer any questions they may still have about different activities.


  1. You want to have a night out with a few friends. You'd like to go to a local bar or pub where everyone can talk and listen to music. Your goal is to convince three of your friends to go with you. Invite as many people as you can. If you can't find three people who will go you'll consider other options.
  2. You want to sing and have fun tonight. There is a bar you know that is having a “karaoke night” tonight. You can not want to go alone though. You must collect four friends to go with you. Talk to as many people as you can. If you can't find four people to go with you you'll consider other options.
  3. You aren't in the mood to go out to a loud crazy bar tonight. A quite evening at home sounds much better to you. You're plans are to order a pizza and stay home to watch a movie on TV. You don't need any friends to do this with you but you would like some company. You are open to other activities as long as they are low energy.
  4. You feel like gambling tonight. There is a riverboat casino across town that you hear has mahjong tables. You want to go play a few games of chance. You should get four of your friends to go with you. You're also open to other suggestions about how to spend the evening but only if they sound fun and exciting.
  5. You are not looking for a fast passed night. There is a movie that just came out to theaters that you've been looking forward to. You would like to see it tonight. You should see if there are two or three of you friends who are interested in having dinner and then going to the cinema to catch the movie together.
  6. You like to play billiards. There is a pool hall down the street that you are planning to go to tonight. You should gather three of your friends to go with you. Talk to as many people as you can to see what they're doing and if they would like to go play pool.
  7. You haven't been bowling since you were young and you've decided that this would be a fun way to spend the night. You need three friends to go with you in order to have a good game of bowling. Try to talk to everyone to convince them to go with you. If you can't find three people to go bowling you can consider other options.
  8. Tonight you want to dance. You are in the mood to get dressed up nice and go to a high energy nightclub with lots of people. You want a large crowd around you, loud music, alcohol and flashing lights. You want to go to the club in a group though. You need to aggressively find six other people to go with you.
  9. Your plans are to go camping tonight. You plan to spend the night down by your favorite fishing spot on Logy Bayou. You're going to build a small fire on the bank of Logy Bayou. You'll use your small metal “john boat” to set up and bait a trot line across the bayou. This line needs to be checked and re-baited about once every hour. Get as many friends as you can to go with you. You plan to camp all night under the stars and tell each other stories over the campfire. Since this is an all night activity not everyone needs to show up at the same time.
  10. The big game is tonight and you plan to watch it. You want to have a Super Bowl party at your house. Invite everyone you can to come over so that you can all watch the game together.
  11. You have two tickets to a football game for tonight. You can not let these tickets go to waste so you can not agree to any other activities. You need one other person to go with you. Talk to as many people as you need to find someone who will go with you.
  12. You enjoy playing “Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games” (MMORPGs) You have a wireless network at home and you think it would be lots of fun to have a “LAN party” (Local Area Network) where everyone is playing in the game together. Invite as many people to your house as you can so that you can all play together in the online game.
  13. You are not in the mood for anything crazy tonight. You'd like to spend some time looking through your favorite bookstore. Then you want to go to a coffee house where you can sit and talk with your friends. You don't want to spend the night alone though. Talk to everyone, find one or two people who will go with you. If no one wants to go along with your plans find someone with similar interests and agree to their plans.
  14. You're in the mood to go shopping tonight. You want to spend the evening at the mall bouncing from one shop to another. You'll finish the evening in one of the local restaurants. Find a couple of friends to go with you. If no one wants to go shopping you are open to other suggestions.
  15. You want to laugh and have a good time tonight. You think it would be fun to go to a Comedy Club and listen to some “stand-up comedians.” Talk to everyone and find three or four people who would like to go with you. If they don't know what a comedy club is tell them that it is similar to a bar but instead of music there are people on stage telling jokes.
  16. There is a music concert tonight by one of your favorite singers. You want to go to this but you don't want to go alone. Find at least four people who will go with you. If you can't find four other people look for some similar alternatives.
  17. You want to do something fun and active tonight. You'd like to go down to the local gym where you can play basketball for a couple of hours. Find at least three friends who would like to go with you. You can have more than this but you need an even number of people to have even teams. You might consider other activities after this but not until you've gotten a game together.
  18. You want to do something fun and active tonight. You think it would be fun to get have a paintball game (CSing) tonight. There is a new paintball gym that you've heard has some good mazes for people to play in. This is only fun if you have a large group of people who want to play. You need to find six friends or more who would like to play paintball tonight. If you can't find at least six people you will consider other options but only if they involve doing something active.
  19. You are planning an activity for the whole weekend, not just tonight. You want to spend tonight traveling to a nearby town at the foot of a mountain park. In the morning you want to get up early and go hiking on the nature trails that lead up into the mountain. You plan to pack and carry a bag with you so that you can have a pick-nick on one of the cliffs overlooking the valleys, trees and the river that runs through the mountains. You don't want to go alone. You'd like at least two other people to go with you. If you can't find two people to go you'll consider going on some similar activity.
  20. You want to go white-water rafting this weekend. There is a river park that rents rafts for the day. You want to spend tonight traveling to the head of the river. In the morning you'll rent one of these rafts and float down the river moving through the rapids until you reach the next town at the end of the day. You can stop somewhere along the way for a pick-nick lunch. You can not go rafting alone. You need to take at least four other people with you. If you can not find four people who will go you'll consider similar activities.

© Copyright 2012. Wesley Meacham- This article is copyright protected and is the property of Wesley Meacham. All images in this article, unless otherwise stated, are the property of Wesley Meacham. Please do not copy this article in whole or in part without giving credit to the original author.

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Wesley Meacham (author) from Wuhan, China on May 22, 2012:

Paul, thanks for commenting. I agree that would be a good idea.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on May 22, 2012:


This is an excellent conversation activity to use with upper-intermediate students. If I were doing this activity with my students, I would go one step further and teach them some sample sentences which illustrate techniques of persuading someone to do something they don't want to do. Voted up and sharing.

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