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Social distancing, self-isolation, school closures, and uncertain times have quite shaken up our lives. Undoubtedly, it is not easy to adjust to an unexpected crisis. Suddenly transitioning from classroom teaching to remote instruction while homeschooling our own children and taking care of our family are significantly demanding and overwhelming tasks. Although spending time and taking care of our loved ones is our top priority; however, it is normal to feel the need to support our students and their parents as best we can. But make sure you take it easy while you are easy on the kids, too.

If you are homeschooling your children or you are required to provide work for your learners during school closures, the following activities, resources, and online platforms geared towards ESL and ELA learners might come in handy as no one expects us to become e-learning specialists overnight. It is not an exhaustive list, but it can at least offer some help.

Activities for Secondary ESL Students (Grades 7-12)

Developing/Practicing fluency and accuracy (Speaking skills):

  1. Demonstrating and explaining how to cook their favourite meal (video recording) – Teens will practice sequencing, giving instructions, using action verbs and cooking vocabulary.

  2. Presenting their idol – Students will practice characterization as they need to describe a person’s qualities and physical appearance.

  3. Movie review (short video or written assignment) – Learners will develop analytical and critical thinking skills; they will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a movie and will support their ideas with relevant justification, they will draw conclusions based on evidence.

  4. Oral journals – 3 or 5-minute long recordings in which students talk about a topic they like (food, sports, fashion, music), so they can practice expressing their opinion, talk about likes/dislikes, and preferences. You may use Flipgrid to have students record their answers; the maximum recording time is 5 minutes.

Developing/Practicing reading skills:

  1. – This website contains a lot of free online articles. What is super cool about these articles is that they come in different Lexile levels, so you can differentiate more easily.

  2. Ted Ed – The Ted Ed website contains short educational videos your children or students could watch. These videos are accompanied by multiple choice questions and questions requiring a constructive response.

Grammar skills:

  1. My classroom blog contains a compilation of grammar video lessons for my students, so they can watch them at home in case they forget the explanations given in class. These are YouTube videos offering quick lessons you can use to review important grammar concepts. You may access them here: Grammar Workshops

Developing/Practicing writing skills:

  1. Journaling – Free writing activities are an effective way to practice writing. It motivates students more because they are not required to write about a specific topic, so they can express their thoughts and feelings freely by writing a poem, personal narrative, opinion, or a descriptive paragraph, so on and so forth.

  2. Travel brochure – Students may research a place they would like to visit, then, they will create an informative travel guide or brochure to inform their audience about accommodation, budget, meals, and sightseeing opportunities. If you are looking for some informative writing activities, you may take a look at this resource in my TpT store: Brochure Project Ideas for Teens

  3. Blogging – Students may start blogging about various topics they are interested in.

  4. Write & Improve is a free tool that offers feedback on students’ writing in seconds. Learners need to register, then, choose from writing assignments for beginner, intermediate and advanced English, submit their text online, so they can get instant feedback on their work.

  5. NoRedInK This website is offering support in improving students’ grammar and writing skills.

  6. If you wish to learn more about how I teach persuasive writing to my ESL learners, read the following blog post: How I Teach Persuasive Writing Using Guided Instruction and Practice

  7. You may also try this creative writing activity I published a while ago: Twisted Fairy Tales – Creative Writing Ideas for Secondary ESL Learners

Online platforms and services for ESL learners and teachers (elementary and high school):

  1. AlloProf – AlloProf keeps offering its services during school closures, as well. It is a French-Canadian website in Québec featuring a multitude of Math, French, English, History, Science, Chemistry, Physics activities for both elementary and secondary learners; and they are all free. In addition, if students have questions, qualified teachers are there to help them online.

  2. LesPlan is a Canadian website offering collections of articles on current events appropriate for elementary and secondary learners. Some free samples providing reading comprehension activities may be downloaded from their website.

  3. To access their website, click here:

  4. To access the free downloadable samples of their News4Youth current issues journal, click here:

  5. Vooks is a website containing animated books for young children. Currently, they are offering a free first year to all school teachers and homeschool educators. Parents also get 1 month free:

  6. Epic for Kids is a digital library containing fiction and non-fiction books, learning videos and quizzes for elementary, middle and high school learners. The website contains texts for independent reading, research projects, and literacy center ideas. These activities cover various subject areas such as English, Science and Arts, Social Studies, Math, Languages, and Social Emotional Learning. Access is free for teachers and librarians.

If you wish to download the Free Online Activities and Resources Handout for English Language Learners, click on the image below.

If you are looking for some print & go activities, try these free downloadable resources from the Teachers Pay Teachers website:

  1. Short Story with Comprehension Questions for Primary Grades by Charlene Tess

  2. Using Apostrophes Correctly Grammar Worksheets by Charlene Tess

  3. Transitive and Intransitive Verbs by Charlene Tess

  4. Vocabulary: Practice Using Context Clues FREEBIE by Read Relevant

  5. Reading Journal Accompanying the Novel GHOST by Versatile Teacher Toolkit

  6. FREE Response Process (Reading Skills) Assessment/Evaluation Grid (for teachers) by Versatile Teacher Toolkit

  7. Reading Strategies Task Cards and Worksheet – Active Reading Model by Versatile Teacher Toolkit

  8. Response to Text/Video Planner FREEBIE (for teachers) by Versatile Teacher Toolkit

  9. FREE Anecdotal Record Forms (Assessment tool) (for teachers) by Versatile Teacher Toolkit

  10. FREE RESOURCES LIBRARY – If you subscribe to our ESL in the Spotlight newsletter, you will gain access to a free resources library containing some useful handouts and worksheets such as Freedom Writers Movie Guide, Opinion Text Checklist sample, Response to Videos bell-ringer/time-filler activity, and other future ESL goodies.

I hope these websites and resources will help you to nail the art of homeschooling and/or teaching remotely during school closures. If you know other useful ideas or learning platforms for ESL learners, please, feel free to share them in the comments section below.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

All the best!

Kynga C.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the websites I have mentioned in this blog post, therefore I do not receive any compensation if you click on the links provided. 


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