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There could be many reasons why you've got no lesson plan, sometimes the school has made a mistake with scheduling and have called you in last-minute. Usually you've messed up in some way (hey, we've all done it!), and now need a last minute lifesaver! Standing out in front of an ESL class of teens or adults with no plan can be a nightmare, but there is no need to panic.

Whatever the reason, there are lots of great ways to have an extremely successful ESL class without a lesson plan or materials. Here are a few ways below! All of these adults speaking activities and teen speaking activities are no prep speaking activities.


In pairs, ask your adult students to make a list of 15 good inventions e.g. paper, the vacuum cleaner, planes, chopsticks, ladders, antibiotics, soap, the internet. Take three ideas from each group and write these inventions on the board. Fill the board with ideas. There should be no duplicates on the board.

Your adult students then have to come up to the board one by one and rub off one invention which they think isn't the most important. They then have to explain why it isn't as important as some of the others on the board. This can create controversy! Keep going until there is just one left. This creates a lot of discussion and is a wonderful adults speaking lesson with no lesson plan. The last remaining invention is THE GREATEST EVER INVENTION!

Time: 60 mins



Write 10-15 random words on the board e.g. bike, plastic bag, TV, thief, etc.

Your teen students then have to write a story using the words or make a role-play in groups involving some of or all of the words on the board. This can be very creative and all you need are some ESL teen or adult students and some pen and paper. If you want to expand this to make a speaking activity, then you can have your teen or adult students role-playing their stories and getting lots of speaking practice out of the speaking lesson. Again, this lesson needs no lesson plan or prep time. A winning ESL adults speaking activity!

Time: 60 mins+



Put your adult students into pairs and give each pair eight strips of paper. Ask them to write out a dialogue between two people, with each sentence on one strip of paper (so their dialogue has eight sentences). They should then mix these up and give them to another pair. The other pair must try to put the sentences in order and act out the dialogue. Give your adult students some good ideas for this no prep ESL speaking activity by giving some examples of two people speaking. For example, a boss and a late employee, a decorator who has just painted the wrong house pink, etc. Seeding your adult ESL students with some good ideas will allow them to be more creative in creating their own dialogues. This is a very fun ESL speaking lesson for teens and adults which doesn’t need a lesson plan. Having no lesson plan will never be a problem again!

Time: 60 mins+

Have fun and never panic!!

by Stuart Allen