Teaching English isn’t all glitz and glamour and most ESL positions often demand a good deal of legwork from teachers. Depending on the level of preparation required for lesson planning, the curriculum, and the availability of materials, you may find yourself scrambling to come up with effective lesson plans on your own. Worksheets have historically been — and to this day remain — important staples of the ESL classroom, whether in-person or digital. While it’s certainly possible to get “carried away” with worksheets by becoming over-reliant on them, in moderation they can be immensely beneficial for driving home important terminology and concepts in the minds of ESL learners.
Fortunately, the web is chock full of high-quality ESL worksheets that are totally free. We’ve listed the best here, broken up by category.
ESL Conversation Worksheets
High-quality conversation worksheets touch upon the four pillars of ESL: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Here you’ll find a wide range of topics that will get your classroom chatting. Students will be able to ask well-structured, relevant questions, hold a conversation with one another, and formulate and express their opinions.
Speaking practice is arguably one of the best methods for students to acquire a second language and conversation is a great way to practice speaking the language in a non-intimidating way.
- The History of Communication
- Birthday Survey
- Conversation Fill in the Blanks
- Your Last Holiday
- Let’s Talk about the Universe!
- Shopping Conversation
- Small Talk
- Travel Questions
ESL Family Worksheets
The family is the most basic human social unit. Even the youngest learners will have their own well-developed conceptions of the family and, chances are, they’ll be enthusiastic to think and talk about their own in the classroom.
All levels and ages of learners can benefit from practicing family-related vocabulary. Luckily, there are worksheets for all ages and skill levels in this category.
Below, you’ll find beginner-friendly worksheets to introduce vocabulary about family and relatives, as well as advanced worksheets that cover more thought-provoking topics such as conflicts between family members and differences in cultural traditions.
- Writing about Family Members
- Family Traditions
- Create Your Family Tree!
- Spot the Differences — Family Portraits
- Conflicts Between Teens and Parents
ESL Alphabet Worksheets
Learning the alphabet and the corresponding phonics is one of the most foundational aspects of a young learner’s initial ESL education.
These worksheets are targeted at a younger audience of English language learners, however, included in this list is also some vowel pronunciation practice that is suitable for all ages.
Even a student who has been studying English for years can still struggle with vowel pronunciation, often confusing once vowel sound with another, similar one. Revisiting the fundamentals of the alphabet can help.
The younger crowd will also benefit from these fun activities, which not only introduce them to the alphabet but increase their vocabulary as well.
ESL Reading Worksheets
Reading comprehension is an essential skill that not only benefits ESL learners in practical terms, but is also a central component of most standardized English tests like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
The ESL worksheets below offer a great opportunity to reinforce lessons, evaluate comprehension, and work together to answer the questions (for example, you can have the students take turns reading and then pose each question or exercise to the entire class).
You can tailor your reading material to meet the current lesson content and/or interests of your students. If you already have a story or book you’re working with, feel free to adapt these worksheets to fit by modifying the questions, wording, or exercises.
- Life in the Future
- Reading Comprehension by Grade Level
- A Taste of Nature
- Unhealthy Breakfast
- Silly Bear Story
- Harry Potter (School Timetable)
ESL Grammar Worksheets
Because English grammatical structure is dramatically different compared to the grammar of other languages (especially those from totally foreign linguistic families such as East Asian tongues), ESL students often struggle with mastering this aspect of English.
These grammar worksheets are a great way to get creative with how you reinforce your lessons. Veteran teachers might find it valuable to adjust these to fit their own classes while less-experienced educators may find it more useful to rely on these as the main focal point of their lesson.
- To Have (Present Tense)
- Command Verbs
- Adverbs & Frequency
- 8 Parts of Speech
- Verb Tenses
- Article or No Article?
- Indefinite Articles
ESL Pronunciation Worksheets
Depending on your students’ level of skill, the following ESL worksheets can really help reinforce your pronunciation and phonetics lessons (as can these pronunciation exercises).
When you use these worksheets optimally as a teacher, you are able to not only demonstrate the correct sound but also how it will look on paper in a word or phrase.
Usually English phonetic sounds — even vowels and their combinations – have recurring patterns that, once identified and retained through practice, make bridging the gap between written and verbal word much easier.
These worksheets are more interactive than some of the others. In the past, I’ve taken one of these worksheets and transferred some or most of it onto the board – this not only encouraged the class to work together in sounding out the words, but made it easy to understand how to do the rest of the tasks in the worksheet on their own.
- The Final ‘S’
- ‘Ed’ Endings
- ‘T’ and ‘Th’ Sounds
- ‘O’ and ‘U’ Vowel Sounds
- ‘Ou’ and ‘Oo’ Vowel Sounds
- ‘Oi’ and ‘Oy’ Vowel Sounds
ESL Preposition Worksheets
Like other challenging aspects of English, other languages often lack prepositions. This makes acquiring native-level understanding of the structural form and function of prepositional phrases difficult. Proper preposition use into flowing conversation is even more challenging.
I’ve found preposition worksheets to be invaluable in driving home the correct use of prepositions. The simplicity of most sheets means they aren’t so intimidating to students. They are also easy to do on their own as they often only require filling out or circling one word or phrase.
- Where Is the Cat?
- Name Three
- Mixed Prepositions
- Fill in the Correct Preposition
- Proposition Gap
- In, On, or Under
- Prepositions of Time
ESL Worksheets for Beginners
For students young and old, beginner ESL worksheets are an important tool for drilling home the basics. They should be both easy to understand and engaging enough to command and hold attention.
Even among the most thorough and time-thrifty instructors, the beginner level is where ESL teachers tend to become over-reliant on worksheets. Don’t make this mistake. The best rule of thumb in this regard is to keep worksheets as tools of review rather than the main “bread and butter” of the lesson.
Feel free to borrow aspects of these worksheets that work, adjust those that don’t, and try to not lean too heavily on them at the risk of frustrating your beginner students.
- Animal Match
- Alphabet Fun
- Yes or No?
- How Much?
- Months of the Year
- To Be
- What Do You Want to Be?
- Body Parts – Crossword
- Countable vs. Uncountable Nouns
ESL Worksheets for Adults
Despite the perception of worksheets being useful for younger students only, adult learners actually engage effectively with worksheets – when they are strategically included as part of an overall lesson.
Regardless of skill level, most adult students will expect a bit more depth from their ESL worksheets than young learners. With that in mind, we have included some more adult topics like idioms, parties, and a science story.
The best adult lesson plans utilize these worksheets as part of the journey instead of the destination. Accordingly, work to incorporate them into your lesson and see if they might spur additional conversation or activities or lend greater context to the lesson.
For some of these ESL worksheets, such as the one covering speed dating and party expressions, think of them as a way to “spice up” your lesson and get some creative interaction going.
- Back to the Board
- Advanced Reading & Comprehension
- Changes in Science Story
- Using Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots
- Understanding Expressions
- Party Time Expressions
- Speed Dating
ESL Worksheets for Kids
ESL worksheets are effective natural fits for kids’ lesson plans. Chances are high that your primary-level students are already well-accustomed to worksheet activities by the time you get them in your class. And, if the worksheets are high-quality, they will engage kids’ attention to the material at hand.
As with other age groups, ESL worksheets for kids should never be the focal point of your lesson – their attention spans are too short and how their learning styles are too varied to rely entirely on a worksheet.
Instead, use these worksheets during the last few minutes of your class or as homework (depending on their level) primarily as reinforcement mechanisms to maximize your students’ retention of the material.
On the web, you can find free age-appropriate ESL worksheets for kids on virtually any topic. Here is a small sampling of a wide array of subjects.
- Find Someone Who Bingo
- Places/Giving Directions
- Match the Animals
- Hidden Classroom Objects
- Body Parts
- My Day/Daily Routine
ESL Vocabulary Worksheets
When it comes to retaining English vocabulary, the key to success is repetition. Only after continual practice using a term or phrase will it become permanently etched in the mind of the learner for fluid recall in everyday conversation.
In that pursuit, ESL worksheets are crucial when looking to reinforce new vocabulary or practice old lessons – the beauty of these sheets is that they can be edited to fit any lesson with minimal effort.
Consider having your students work together on a sheet and play around with pairing stronger speakers with weaker ones to see how it works – these worksheets aren’t too intensive and are great for partner exercises.
- Cooking Vocabulary
- At the Airport Role Play
- Interviewing Lady Gaga (a Perennial Favorite of Asian ESL Leaners)
- World Cup Map
- Feelings & Emojis
ESL Writing Worksheets
English writing is a tough skill to learn (and to teach) effectively. Nonetheless, mastering writing, even as a non-native learner, is possible. Expertise in writing should be one of the long-term ultimate goals of any language training program.
These writing worksheets are aimed at making this essential skill easier (or at least more fun).
Before handing out these ESL worksheets, I’d recommend practicing a few examples on the board (you can even make a game out of it) to ensure everyone understands the instructions.
Rather than relying on these worksheets alone, instead incorporate them into your lesson to practice and reinforce the aspect of English writing that is the focus of your overall lesson.
- Ordering Food at a Restaurant
- Comparatives and Superlatives
- A Short Story about Autumn
- Writing Test
- Creating Persuasive Leads
ESL Past Tense Worksheets
Mastering the foundational aspects of English, such as switching between tenses, is a challenge because of the language’s unique grammatical structure.
In fact, many of your students may not be used to conjugating verbs at all – it’s entirely possible that their native language does not require altering the form of the verb to match the tense at all.
Given the unique challenge of tenses in ESL learning, one of the strategies to help your students should include practice, practice, practice. Worksheets are a great way to drill home verb conjugation. Here are some of the best.
ESL Money Worksheets
Financial literacy education – such as how to manage money wisely and how to convert currencies, for example — is an essential (and, all too often) overlooked subject that has real-world benefits. You can give your students a head start in their financial literacy with hearty helpings of economic education.
Add these handy worksheets to your lesson plans on money.
- Money: Vocabulary Quiz
- Phrasal Verbs Related to Money
- Fractions and Percentages
- American Currency
- Making a Budget
ESL Clothes Worksheet
Virtually everywhere in the world, fashion is likely to be an area of intense interest for a large subset of your students – especially among adolescent and young adult learners.
As such, teachers often find that lesson plans (when they are well-developed) that center around fashion and clothes elicit the most engagement and participation from their students.
Here are some of the top ESL clothes worksheets to include in your clothing lesson plan.
ESL Food Worksheets
If Anthony Bourdain and other culinary-anthropological entrepreneurs have taught us anything with their world eating tours, the central takeaway is that food is a universally relatable subject that is central to our identities and even to our basic survival.
Everyone understands food as an important, fundamental subject. In many ways, we orient ourselves in the world and within our societies by the foods and meals that we share. This is why ESL education focused on food can be so effective for learners of all ages.
Here is a sampling of the best ESL food worksheets.
- Let’s Talk About Food
- Food Boardgame (Adaptable)
- Food Likes and Dislikes
- Yummy Breakfast
- Food Wordsearch
Want more? Here are some of the best online resources we found for ESL Worksheets & PDFs: