Presentations in Beginners ESL Classes for Kids?

Paul Romani

Beginner's ESL in Pear Tree's ESL classes for kids

Beginner’s ESL in Pear Tree’s ESL classes for kids

Presentations in Beginners ESL Classes for Kids?

Pear Tree Education demonstrates what you can achieve in beginners’ ESL classes for kids

In a matter of three or four classes, how can you take a complete beginner to a point where they give their first English presentation? Pear Tree dares to achieve what others don’t!
Some of the first things we teach to beginners are adjectives, nouns and verbs. With these, the student can construct almost unlimited language!
Here are 16 x adjectives that we might teach:

1) Slow
2) Fast
3) Old
4) New
5) Clean
6) Dirty
7) Rich
8) Poor
9) Quiet
10) Noisy
11) Big
12) Small
13) Happy
14) Sad
15) Easy
16) Difficult

Initially, we’ll use a combination of strategies to teach these words.

  • We may start off using a series of pictures on the SMARTboard and see if the student knows the words for them (and quite often the student will have prior knowledge of vocabulary). The first will be a demonstration by the teacher.
  • Following this, the student will make a list of the words and look up a translation in their own language (using translation software on an iPad or laptop).
  • We’ll then practice pronunciation a lot!
  • Next, we’ll introduce some further practice through ESL software (see below)
  • Then, we’ll do working memory exercises by having the student come to the SMARTboard and write the words. This teaches the student to visualise the word.

ESL Software

ESL Software

We’ll use picture books that lend themselves to using this kind of language. We want kids to engage in literature and literacy immediately!
One great picture book among many is ‘The Arrival’ by Shaun Tan.
The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

In the picture above, the words ‘sad’, ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ are all possible.
At this point, we’ll push the student to be more explicit: “What is dirty?” “Who is sad?” “The room is dirty” “The husband and wife are sad”
At every stage we’re practicing pronunciation and writing. Writing helps with visualisation of words, and associating a sound (through pronunciation) with a visual symbol (the written word).
In subsequent classes, we continue using picture books to get students to recall vocabulary. It’s essential to turn “passive” vocabulary in “active” vocabulary, which is achieved by using the words.
We’ll also use more traditional children’s picture books with relevant language, such as Robert Munsch’s ‘No Clean Clothes’. Such books are very challenging for beginner ESL child, such as the range of verbs (laugh, look for, yell), but Munsch’s language is very repetitive. This limits the language requirements and, as such, is very useful in an ESL context.
Reading empowers ESL students to feel like they are beginning to learn the language. They are beginning to feel like a native speaker, even if they’re a long way from that!
No Clean Clothes by Robert Munsch

No Clean Clothes by Robert Munsch

After, we can use the iPad to display pictures exactly like flashcards! Here are the type of pictures we’d use (but without the vocabulary below):






























Once again, we’d push the student to be more explicit, and to progress from ‘fast’ to ‘A fast car’, from ‘quiet’ to ‘A quiet boy’.

iPad Flashcard

iPad Flashcard

After that, we’d make things more complicated by showing pictures that require multiple adjectives and longer descriptions, like the following three pictures:

Slide18 Slide17 Slide19


  • ‘beautiful’ (Wow! A different word that we didn’t even teach!)
  • ‘small’
  • ‘rich’ (okay, maybe something or someone is rich)
  • ‘clean’
  • ‘quiet’
  • ‘happy’ (okay, maybe something or someone is happy)


  • ‘old’
  • ‘dirty’
  • ‘poor’
  • ‘noisy’
  • ‘big’

For our class, we took Shanghai to work on, because the student is from China.

iPad Flashcard

iPad Flashcard

Once again, we progressed from single adjectives to complete sentences, with help from the teacher:

  • Big > ‘Shanghai is big’
  • Dirty > ‘Dirty air’ / ‘The roads are dirty’
  • Fast > ‘Life is fast’
  • Noisy > ‘The cars are noisy’
  • New / Old > ‘The buildings are new and (the buildings are) old’
  • Rich / Poor > ‘There are rich people and (there are) poor people’
  • Expensive ($$$) > ‘The rich people drive expensive cars’ – we introduced ‘expensive’ to differentiate between ‘rich’ and high value

We practice pronunciation of these sentences.
After this, we looked at the possibility of making a great paragraph just using beginner’s English!
“Shanghai is a big city. The roads and air are dirty. The cars are noisy. There are new buildings and old buildings. There are rich people and poor people. The rich people drive expensive cars. Life is fast in Shanghai.”
Then, we can separate these sentences into potential slides for a PowerPoint presentation:
Slide 1: Shanghai is a big city.
Slide 2: The roads and air are dirty.
Slide 3: The cars are noisy.
Slide 4: There are new buildings and old buildings.
Slide 5: There are rich people and poor people.
Slide 6: The rich people drive expensive cars.
Slide 7: Life is fast in Shanghai.
The student now has to learn how to search for appropriate pictures (in terms of relevance and quality) on Google. How to copy them into presentation software, like PowerPoint. Then, the student has to add text, so they’re practicing typing in English.
Now, the student can give a presentation in English!
Beginner's ESL in Pear Tree's ESL classes for kids
Notice how none of this has anything to do with cliche topics.
We chose a picture that is relevant to the child. It empowers them to talk – at least on a basic level – about things that are relevant to their lives.