Teaching Activities

In 2016, we launched a set of A-Z activity cards for teachers as a free resource for you to take to your classroom.

Each card focuses on one of the NILE trainers’ favourite activities and sets out the intended level and language focus of the activity, plus aims and a detailed procedure.
The colour-coded  A-Z set of cards covers Speaking (blue) , Reading & Listening (magenta) , Writing (orange),  Vocabulary & Grammar (silver) and Pronunciation (purple). 

We launched the cards at the NILE stand for our 21st Birthday Celebrations at IATEFL 2016, giving away the free activity cards.

The full set of activity cards are now available below, with the starred activities having an explanatory video below.

Please let us know how you get on in class!


Activity Activity Name Activity Type Level Key Language
Activity A Ask the Expert Speaking fluency A2 upwards Hobbies, questions
Activity B Behind the Words Writing and speaking B2 upwards Speculation
Activity C Corners* Speaking fluency A2 upwards Prepositions of place
Activity D Dyadic Circles* Speaking fluency A1 upwards Any
Activity E English Everywhere Noticing language A2 upwards Depends on context
Activity F Flower Writing* Writing and vocabulary A2 upwards Any topic vocabulary
Activity G Gradeability Speaking A2 upwards Grading opinions, agreement, negotiation
Activity H Hello, how are you?* Speaking A1 upwards Interacting, opinion, prioritising
Activity I Inner Emotions Phonology A1 upwards Responses
Activity J Job Fair Speaking fluency B1 upwards Questions, jobs
Activity K Knowing me, knowing you* Phoneme practice A1 upwards Lexical sets, questions
Activity L Lost voices Writing and speaking B2 upwards Exchange pairs, Q&A routines
Activity M Magic Moments Speaking fluency B1 upwards Past tenses, descriptive language
Activity N Next…* Speaking A2 upwards Cohesion and coherence
Activity O Other people’s views Speaking and Listening A2 upwards Questions, conditionals
Activity P Progressive deletion Phonology A1 upwards Any
Activity Q Quartered, drawn and hung Speaking A2 upwards Prepositions of place
Activity R Runaround Listening A1 upwards Questions, conditionals
Activity S Shouting dictation Speaking and Listening A2 upwards Personal information
Activity T Travel Agents* Speaking B1 upwards Holidays,superlatives, negotiating
Activity U Using questions Speaking B1 upwards Questions
Activity V Vocabox Vocabulary A1 upwards Any vocabulary taught in class
Activity W Word consequences Vocabulary B2 upwards Definitions
Activity X X marks the spot Reading and Listening A2 upwards Giving and following directions
Activity Y Your turn now Speaking B2 upwards Discussion and debate
Activity Z Zoom-in Vocabulary A1 upwards Vocabulary, any topic






















Trainer Activities

Following the success of the teaching activities, we have now published a set of training activity cards, aimed at teacher trainers in different contexts around the world. 

Eight of these were distributed at our NILE@21 Conference (12th -14th August 2016) and you can now download the full set here. 

Each card focuses on one of the NILE trainers’ favourite training activities and sets out the intended training focus of the activity, plus aims and a detailed procedure.


Activity Activity Name Activity Aims
Activity A Abstract* To develop awareness of contemporary themes in teaching/testing/materials/etc. 
To learn about trainees’ areas of interest and preferences
Activity B Back Writing* To finish a teacher development course on a positive note
To express appreciation of other teachers
To reflect on learning through the course
Activity C Career Path To encourage reflection on one’s professional journey 
To get to know and bond with other members of the group.
Activity D Defamiliarisation* To raise awareness of the knowledge and skills that readers bring to texts
To defamiliarise the process of reading  by putting teachers in the position of learners
Activity E Effective Contributions To improve the quality of discussions in a training context
Activity F Feelings and Beliefs To encourage to examine their own teaching and how it may affect their learners’ feelings
To develop teachers’ analysis of their underlying beliefs about teaching
Activity G The Graph To identify sources of individual teacher motivation
To identify areas of processional tension/conflict and brainstorm solutions
To reflect on learning throughout the course.
Activity H Here and Now To expose obstacles and factors inhibiting change
To pre-empt teachers’ rejection of approaches and activities that appear unfeasible
Activity I Interaction To develop awareness of the interaction patterns in our classrooms
To think about learner preferences
Activity J Jigsaw Activity Exchange To give teachers a chance to share and learn from each other’s practice 
Activity K Knowledge Base To tap the collective knowledge of a group of teachers
To identify appropriate points of entry for a session
To diagnose gaps in teachers’ knowledge
Activity L Learn Something New To encourage trainees to empathise with their learners
To identify learning styles, preferences and possible obstacles to learning
To reflect on learning throughout the course
Activity M Magic Moments To encourage reflection on positive teaching experiences
To explore teachers’ beliefs
Activity N Naming To learn teachers’ names at the beginning of a course
To brainstorm what makes learning activities successful and put some ideas into practice
Activity O Observation Focus* To encourage teachers to do more peer observation
To focus teachers on particular lesson features to observe
Activity P Problematising* To analyse classroom issues in terms of causes and consequences
Activity Q Questioning Skills* To encourage teachers to consider different ways of approaching a text
To develop skills of writing questions to exploit a text
Activity R Reflect To develop trainees’ reflective abilities
To identify and analyse specific pedagogical principles and 
approaches to teaching, learning and assessment
Activity S Self-Assessment To identify key competencies, knowledge and values relating to teaching
To self-assess own progress in relation to each competency, knowledge indicator or value. 
Activity T Teachers’ Advice Bureau To promote peer support amongst teachers
To generate solutions to classroom management problems
Activity U Unusual Talents To encourage teachers to consider how it feels to be a learners again
To discuss learning attitudes and experiences
Activity V Voxpops To invite teachers to reflect on aims and outcomes from a learner perspective
To encourage critical reflection on how to make focus and progress explicit for learners
Activity W Watch your Words* To help teachers appreciate the demands of fluency activities on low-level learners
To lead into discussion about fluency and accuracy
Activity X X-Y Graph To identify key moments and experiences in a personal timeline graph of learning
To reflect on experiences of learning and what teachers can learn from them
Activity Y Your Next Move To think about future professional development needs and interests
To gather feedback from trainees on aspects of the course
To find out what areas of teacher training participants are interested in
Activity Z Zooming-in To enhance critical and evaluative thinking