A Nativity Play for ESL Students

Christmas Play ESLThis simple play tells the Nativity story from Luke 1 and 2.  We use it in our ESL class with adults.  It can also be used with younger students.  The Narrator reads the story, and some of the students act out the parts.  The play can be done with the actors speaking only a few simple lines, or the Narrator reading the whole script.  The play takes about 5- 7 minutes to perform.

This activity is good for ESL students with beginning English skills.  By watching the play, the other students see a version of the Christmas story, and they understand and remember the characters, and action of the story, even with low English skills.

Get creative and have your students wear costumes and use props.  We also sang a few Christmas carols during, or after the play.

Find the free printable script for the Nativity story here.

Credit to our intermediate teacher Rod for the script and the costumes in the photo.

Why and How to Slow Down in English

talk fast how to slow down speaking EnglishAre you a fast talker?  If you are, this might be a problem when learning to pronounce English.

To be understood in English, you’ll need to use English sounds, link expected words together, and move your intonation up and down reducing less important words, and stressing more important words.

If you’re talking too fast for others to understand you, here’s what can happen:

  • Your message will be lost.  Some folks will just nod, but they have no idea what you said.
  • People will avoid talking with you.  Talking too fast makes work for the listener, and often we are too tired, or too lazy, to work that hard at understanding you.
  • Running words and sentences together without pausing confuses your message and makes it harder to understand.

Follow some simple rules to slow down in English and be understood better:

  1. Know your reasons for talking fast. Are you nervous? Get prepared for your talk and practice. Are you talking fast so no one will notice your accent? Believe me, often that makes your accent worse!  Get some training in pronouncing English sounds, and correctly linking and reducing words in sentences.
  2. Group your sentences into understandable phrases. Pause between each phrase.
  3. Watch your listener for signs of understanding.  You can probably tell when someone does not understand you by the look on their face.  Stop talking, and ask them what part they did not understand.
  4. Breathe Deep. If you breathe deep, you HAVE TO stop talking. Breathing a little deeper will also support your voice for longer sentences.
  5. Punctuation is your guide to pausing. Take pauses 1) after commas, 2) between thought groups and 3) at the end of a sentence.
  6. Ask a trusted friend for feedback.
  7. Practice to get comfortable with more or longer pausing.

Good luck speaking English!


Consonant Clusters Resource – English Pronuciation

Consonant Cluster Word Lists Accent Reduction

Some ESL Learners need to practice consonant blends in English. This is often because clusters (2 or more consonants together) are not in their first language. Vietnamese is a good example of this. So land sounds like lan, and pint sounds like pine.

I love this online resource that has many free printable lists: locutour.com   (Learning Fundamentals)

I have used their lists for R remediation and to treat lisps, by using their lists for S, Z, SH, ZH etc.

Recently I went back to their word/sentence lists to help a client who was learning English as a second language and needed help making her accent sound more American. Click on the links here and see the free printables for some helpful word/sentence lists! Keep up the good work teaching English.

Consonant Clusters – R’s

Consonat Clusters – S’s

Consonant Clusters – L’s

Consonant Clusters – Other

Linking Final T in Sentences

linking final TT is tricky in English. Students are often taught to fully pronounce the T in words. But then in sentences, a fully pronounced T sounds unusual.

“Get a book at the store” sounds like:

GeT (pause) a book aT (pause) the store.”


GeTA a book aTA the store.”

When words with FINAL T are in a sentence, link the T sound to the next word whenever possible. If you have a coming vowel sound, ALWAYS link the T (in a thought group)! Also reduce the T to a D sound for more North American English pronunciation.

Here’s a free printable practice sheetof sentences.