Teaching animal vocabulary to ESL students is one of my favourite things in this world. Firstly, I just love animals – even more than I love teaching! I spend my holidays travelling the world, seeing all the amazing animals I can find, and taking photos of them.
When I get back to class, I use my photos to show my students all about this amazing world. Living in China, they are brought up in big apartment buildings where they can barely see any wildlife – maybe just a bird or a stray cat. They think animals belong in zoos.
It’s a privilege to be able to teach them about the wonderful world of animals, and hopefully I can make a difference by bringing up a few hundred students to have some respect for nature that they wouldn’t get taught in any other Chinese class.
To teach the animal vocabulary, I use this Powerpoint presentation:
ESL Animal Vocabulary from David Wills
With higher level students, I have them describe the animals – what they look like, what they eat, where they live, etc. With lower level students it’s probably enough just to teach the names of the animals.
You’ll notice a lack of farmyard animals and pets here… They usually pop up in storybooks and textbooks, so I didn’t bother including them here.
I also like to include a discussion with my intermediate students, using some of the following discussion questions:
- What is your favourite animal? Why?
- What do you think is the most dangerous animal in the world?
- What sort of animals make good pets?
- How can humans help protect animals?
- How do you feel about zoos?
More teaching ideas:
Have students think of their favourite animal and describe it to a partner. The partner should guess what it is. For this, you obviously need to pre-teach words like horn, hoof, stripes, spots, fur, and so on.