10 Engaging ESL Task Card Activities for Amazing Results

In this article…

…you’ll learn some stellar activities to use with your English learners as well as get a Free set of task cards focusing on academic language usage.

Let’s jump right in!

Why Task Cards?

Task cards are a wonderfully effective and flexible tool that you can use for a lot of purposes. You can use task cards for…

  • Supplementing Curriculum
  • Scaffolding Curriculum
  • Extra Practice
  • Fast Finishers
  • Independent Practice
  • Reading, Speaking, and/or Writing

How to Use Task Cards Effectively

Task cards come in all shapes and sizes, but usually you’ll want to have a stack of them on a particular topic or focusing on a particular objective you want to accomplish.

It’s often best to have already completed some practice with a topic or objective beforehand and then use task cards to help students put that knowledge to use and start building fluency.

Task cards are most effective when you are able to turn the time over to students in small groups for them to practice. Then you can walk around to the different groups, joining in, offering assistance or guidance, and making some informal notes on what students still need practice on.

After preparing students to be able to interact on their own with their task cards, you can give each group a set of the task cards you’re going to use. Model together what you want to see once the students begin the activity. If you have some students who struggle to stay on task, you can let everyone know beforehand that students will be required to write their responses to the task cards individually if they are unable to work effectively together in groups.

Below, you’ll find a list of task card activity ideas you can consider for your next class! Also, if you haven’t grabbed your free set of task cards, you’ll find the link below to get them. If you need more task cards, consider the Kid-Inspired ESL Curriculum Membership which includes a growing library of task cards you can use with your ELLs.

List of Speedy, Reliable Activities

  1. Board Game – You can use Task Cards with most any board game from boxed board games from the store to printed board games (there are a bunch of printable board games inside the ESL Curriculum Membership). Students respond to a task card before rolling a die or taking a turn.
  2. Stations – You can use task cards as a station along with other station activities or you can place different sets of task cards with different objectives at multiple stations. For instance, you can find different sets of task cards for the academic words explaindescriberecount, and predict. Each of these academic words could be a station.
  3. Lightning Round – Small groups of students race to get through as many cards as possible in a certain amount of time, each student in the group taking a turn to answer.
  4. Hot Potato – You can pass a “hot potato” (i.e. stuffed animal, marker, or an actual hot potato) around while music plays. When the music stops, the student holding the “hot potato” must respond to one of the Task Cards.
  5. Brainstorm Your Own Cards – Students use the cards as reference for creating their own task cards. Once done, students can get with a partner and answer each other’s task cards. 
  6. Writing Prompts – You can let students choose randomly from a set of flash cards. You can then have them do Think Pair Share with a few different partners. Afterward, students walk around trading cards until they get a card to which they would like to write a response. 
  7. Independent Work – While you’re working with students individually or in small groups, you can have students who are waiting work on task cards.
  8. Scaffolding Grade-Level Content – English learners often struggle with the academic language of grade-level content. Task cards are a wonderful and engaging way for them to interact with that language in speech before attempting to read or respond to that language. Giving English learners time to think and speak before reading and writing is an incredibly helpful strategy.
  9. Fast Practice Review – You can start a class by pulling a few task cards on topics that students have previously studied in order to do a quick review. This kind of regularly spaced repetition is the key to long-term retention for any student, insuring that they don’t forget content they need to know.
  10. Assessing Understanding – You can use task cards to assess whether your English learners have understood and/or mastered skills or language they have been learning.

There are so many more activities that you can do with a good set of task cards. Below you’ll find a free set of cards that you can download and use with your students. If you need more, you can find more sets of task cards along with tons of other engaging teaching materials inside the ESL Curriculum Membership. Scroll down to learn more.

Printable Task Cards

Download This Resource

Grab this set of free task cards you can use to help your ELLs practice using academic language by clicking the button below.

If you’re a member…

…of the Kid-Inspired ESL Curriculum Membership, you can log in and head over to the Flash Cards & Task Cards section of the membership to find a task cards to use with your English Learners. I’ve just added a bunch of new sets!

If you’re NOT a member…

…you can hit the big red button above to sign up to receive a Free set of task cards.

…or you can get access to an entire library with 1000s of resources inside the ESL Curriculum Membership. It has all of the tools you need to help your ELLs succeed at grade level. Click the button below to sign up.


Free Task Card Set to Use with Your MLLs



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