Teacherless Activities for Beginners

Teacherless Activities help increase student involvement and reduce teacher prep time — plus give students the confidence they need for real-world English interactions.

This is the presentation that Hugo Loyola delivered at #CoTESOL and #CATESOL conventions in 2015 and it was based on the original presentation by authors Amy Hemmert and Rick Kappra. The materials introduced below (PowerPoint Slides and Handout are the same) – feel free to download and share. 

Rick and AmyAt a recent ESL Colloquium hosted by City College of San Francisco (CCSF), our beloved co-authors, ESL educators, and long-time collaborators Amy Hemmert and Rick Kappra delivered a presentation on Teacherless Activities for Beginners. These tried, tested and proven effective activities get beginning-level learners of English on their feet and speaking the language from day one!

Rick and Amy got participants brainstorming ideas and sharing assumptions on what they believe to be the right conditions needed for effective language learning classrooms, based on their own experiences as teachers – and learners. The group came-up with the following list:

ConditionsStudent motivation requires:

  • Directions / Modeling
  • Safe space
  • Comfortable learning environment
  • Repetition
  • Clear instructions
  • Clear goals
  • Engaging materials
  • Mistakes are OK
  • Respect



They also discussed the “joys” and “challenges” to teaching low level students. Here is what the group came-up with:

🙂 Joys:

  • Low-level students are eager to learn
  • It’s easy to see progress
  • We laugh and have fun with low-level students [/list]


🙁 Challenges:

  • Teaching multi-level students
  • Students speak different languages / no commonality
  • Physical limitations
  • Lack of adequate materials
  • Low or no previous education experience


Joys and Challenges


Does any of the above sound familiar to you? You are not alone. Thankfully, we have Amy and Rick championing the use of Teacherless Activities with low-level students. Try some of these with your students and we promise you will have a hard time (in a good way) getting your students to stop talking in English.

Here is a copy of their slideshow and downloadable handout for your convenience (requires the latest version of Flash – don’t have Flash installed on your computer? click here to download)

[gview file=”https://altaenglishpublishers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Teacherless-Activities-Handout-CCSF-ESL-Colloquium-2015.pdf”]

How about you? In what other ways can you use teacherless activities to spark conversation in your beginning-level class? Leave a comment below.

Looking for more activities like these?

Try Out & About: An Interactive Course in Beginning English. The textbook is based on the philosophy that students learn by doing. Teacher talk is minimized and student involvement is maximized. And charge-up your lessons with the Out & About Teacher Resource Book. Ideal for beginning English classes it’s packed with teacherless activities covering introductions, classroom items, dates/days of the week, jobs, families, household chores, shopping, dealing with money, getting around town, making appointments, the weather/ seasons, transportation and more. 


Read More
  1. Amy Hemmert Reply

    Thanks for posting this. We had a great time at the conference. If you attended the workshop (or didn’t) and are using some of the activities we shared, we’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply


Facebook Messenger for Wordpress