Effective ESL exercises for beginners include role play activities, changing the verb tense in a paragraph and flashcards. Another option is listening to music in English, which reinforces concepts and improves listening skills.
Role play activities can cover common situations, such as asking for help at a grocery store. These activities build functional English skills. They require grammar, vocabulary and listening skills. For a grocery store role play, the student can ask where certain items are in the store, then talk to a cashier to complete his "purchase."
Changing the verb tense in a paragraph builds the student's vocabulary. The paragraph should use the same verb tense for each sentence. The student then changes every verb to a different tense. If he recently learned past tense verbs, he could change every verb from present to past tense. After he changes the verbs, he changes anything else necessary so the paragraph makes sense.
Flashcards should have pictures of items the student knows in English. When he flips over the card, he says the word that corresponds to the picture. For additional practice, he should use the word in an English sentence.
The student can combine exercises. For example, he could flip over a flashcard, say the word in English, then create a role play scenario based on that word. He could also use the word with multiple verb tenses.