Cool Summer Activities for ESL Students

Cool Summer Activities for ESL Students
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“Hot” Summer ESL Activities

The following activities using summer topics for ESL students have been used in English language summer school for students from around the world. The students, teens from 13 to 19, enjoyed all of them.

Summer Word Search

  • Create a list of “summer” words appropriate for the ESL level of the students with blank columns beside each word. (The number of columns would correspond to the number of students in the class.) For a sample, please download the ESL Summer Word List.
  • Ask the students to identify words that are new to them. Discuss the meanings.
  • In small groups, have the students use the words in a conversation where they share their past summer activities.
  • Have the students write a short (one page) essay on summer using as many of the vocabulary words as they can, underlining the words.
  • Give each student a number corresponding to the number on the vocabulary list.
  • When finished writing, have them take turns reading the essays.
  • Have the students listening to the presentation to tick off the vocabulary words they hear under the corresponding number on their list.
  • After each student reads, have that student list the words they used on the board.
  • The students who heard the most words win that round.

Wacky Pictionary

  • An alternative activity using the summer word list that can actually be quite funny is to have the students look over the list and pick a word that they do not know.
  • Have them draw a picture of the word based purely on what the words translate to them. For example, “bath house” might translate into a place where someone goes to have a bath. Have them share their perceptions and then have them look up the meanings in their dictionaries.
  • This activity can also be done with idioms.

Word Scavenger Hunt and Superlatives

  • No matter where you live, there is always a favorite summer activity. Arrange for your students to participate in this activity.
  • Make it a learning exercise by incorporating tasks that the students must fulfill during the day. For instance, a trip to the beach for those who live on the coast or near a lake is a typical summer activity.
  • Before leaving, give the students a list of things related to the beach. For a sample, please download the ESL Word List for a Beach Trip.
  • Have the students sketch a quick picture or brief description of what the words mean as they see or observe them.
  • They can work in teams with each team having a slightly different list.
  • At the end of the day, collect the lists. When class meets again, hand out the sheets with corrections/comments.
  • Have students discuss and vote on or list superlatives such as, most interesting word, least favorite word, craziest word, etc.

ESL Summer Archaeology

  • Have the students find one artifact of summer that they can bring to class to discuss.
  • Ask them to tell the history of the item, why it is meaningful, where did it come from, and how long they have had it. (This activity can be done year round!)
  • After everyone has presented their artifact, have the students each pick one (theirs or someone else’s) to create a fictional story around.
  • Later, have them present their stories to each other.

Cool Summer School

Each of these activities gives students opportunities to practice the four language skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. By incorporating games and activities into your curriculum, your students are sure to enjoy learning in spite of the heat!


  • The content of this article is from the author’s own experience.
  • Photo Credit: Author


Gundlach, Marlene, Ed.: The Guide to Managing Teens: Teaching and Parenting

This post is part of the series: Hot and Cold: Year-round ESL Activities for Teenagers

These article will give educators fun activities to keep teenage students learning ESL engaged in their learning. All aspects of ESL learning will be covered in these activities.

  1. Fun ESL Activities For Teenagers
  2. Heat Things Up with These Cool Ideas: Summer ESL Activities for Teens
  3. Three ESL Activities: Autumn Fun for Teenagers