13 Excellent ESL Teaching Exercises for Houses and Neighborhoods

Updated: Monday, March 28th 2020

One of the most elementary topics that can be used to get students talking and giving  opinions in English is housing. It’s one of those universal topics that works really well in speaking classes. Everyone has opinions about the how they want to live.  It can be taught at many levels as long as the vocabulary is adapted to  the students’ abilities.  Role plays, questionnaires, surveys and picture-vocabulary matching exercises are some of the activities that work well with this topic.

1 Talking about neighborhoods

A vocabulary and speaking activity for talking about neighborhoods. This is great for elementary students with limited fluency.

Talking about neighborhoods speaking activity for students

Talking about neighborhoods (PDF)

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2 Elementary  housing vocabulary worksheet (with answers)

This exercise includes  vocabulary commonly used to talk about housing and give opinions about neighborhoods and lifestyles.  It is also used to  discuss the pros and cons of different types of accommodation. Students try to match the vocabulary with the appropriate pictures and answer the questions.

Elementary housing vocabulary-picture matching and speaking exercise

Elementary housing vocabulary (PDF)

3  Write a conversation: houses & neighborhoods

This is a conversation writing exercise which could be the basis of a speaking activity or role play.  Students get to talk about and describe their houses and neighborhoods.

Elementary houses and neighborhoods conversation or dialogue writing exercise for English language students.

Write a conversation: houses & neighborhoods (PDF)

4  Parts of speech sorting: houses & neighborhoods

Another way to review and reinforce vocabulary for a topic is by doing a parts of speech sorting exercise.

Parts of speech for talking about neighborhoods.

Parts of speech for houses & neighborhoods (PDF)

5 Housing preferences interview

This is an elementary speaking activity and interview in which pairs of students choose their preferred living options from the choices given in each box. They then write a short report comparing their partners preferences with their own.

Elementary housing preferences speaking activity.

Housing preferences interview (PDF)

6 Brainstorming the house: an icebreaker for discussing where you live and describing your house

Some icebreakers are so simple you might feel a fool for not having thought of them before. I certainly have. Brainstorming things…furniture …items…adjectives ..etc that might be used for parts of the house. What a no-brainer! But I didn’t think of it for 30 years of teaching. Icebreakers like this are great for setting up question writing exercises. Once the board is full of vocabulary, you can give a couple example questions, “What kind of furniture do you have in your living room?/ Do you have a big bed?/ Do you have a microwave in your kitchen etc…..” and ask students to create their own questions around the vocabulary.

(Download PDF)

A house and furniture vocabulary icebreaker

 7 Dream house mini-presentation worksheet

This is an  English  language  brainstorming, outlining and planning exercise  for a presentation about a dream house. Students consider the factors listed on the page and jot down their ideas. I had to add some example sentences to make this activity work effectively. And then it was seamless!

ESL dream house discussion, presentation and speaking activity worksheet for elementary English language learners.

Dream house worksheet (PDF)

 8 Housing complaints, annoyances and problems (vocabulary and speaking with answers)

“Housing complaints’ is a slightly more advanced activity for talking about housing . Students match vocabulary to the pictures. Then they can ask each other the the questions at the bottom of the page.

Vocabulary and and speaking exercise for talking about housing complaints

Elements of housing complaints (PDF)

9 Parts of houses worksheet (with answers)

This is a matching activity helping to familiarize students with  vocabulary for houses. Students try to match the vocabulary with the appropriate pictures. Click on the image below or the link to download the printable PDF file.


Parts of houses vocabulary picture matching exercise

Parts of houses (PDF)

10 Types of houses worksheet (with answers)

    This is a matching activity helping to familiarize students with types of houses. Students try to match the vocabulary with the appropriate pictures. 


Types-of-houses picture vocabulary matching exercise

Types of houses (PDF)

 11 Buying a house role play

An imaginative role play in which students any kind of house they like and perform a role play with a partner using the questions on the second page of the handout.

Buying a house role play speaking activity for ESL students

Buying a house role play  (PDF)

 12 Housing vocabulary dictation

To start this lesson use the housing and lifestyle vocabulary on the Teacher’s Sheet ,page 4 of the PDF. The words correspond to the pictures below ( page 4 of the PDF). Dictate the words randomly row by row. The students have to choose or guess which is the appropriate picture for the word. So they are choosing a word to match one of three pictures. They should write the word in the same box as the picture it matches. The teacher can make sentences using the words to make the context and meaning clearer. Also, spell and explain the meanings of words as necessary. First, I go down the rows one by one so students are choosing from three pictures. Then I come back up to the top and go down row by row again and students choose from two pictures to match the word I am dictating. Click on the image below or the link at right to download the PDF file.

Housing vocabulary and other language exercises

Housing vocabulary  dictation and  other exercises (PDF)

13 Describing a Room

This is an ESL writing worksheet for students to describe a room in their house, apartment or dormitory. First, students brainstorm ideas at the top of the page. Then, they write a paragraph about their room.

Describing a room paragraph writing

Describing a room paragraph writing  (PDF)

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