Friday 11 December 2009

Games to Use in the TEFL Classroom

Updated 18 February 2012

Games can be used throughout class: at the beginning for a quick warmer, in the middle to lighten the mood, or at the end as a reward. You can teach useful language, such as "it's your turn" or "pick a card".

Be aware of games where many people aren't involved, such as Hangman or Charades. Try to play these games in small groups. You can also try playing online games.

You can either make your own games or print them off the internet. Teaching English to young learners has some good games. You can find some more ideas in the lesson planning links.

You can make your own or base it off a popular board game, such as Snakes and Ladders. Try laminating them or putting them in a sheet protector. Groups will finish at different times so be sure to have something for them to do when they're done.
  • Scrabble is good for vocabulary.
Card Games
These take more preparation and should be laminated. You could base them off popular games such as Go Fish or Memory.
  • Taboo. Either buy the game or have students make the cards. Have a maximum number of cards that you give to students or else they'll use up the whole lot. I usually give my students 10 cards for 1 minute.
Chalkboard Games
  • Fly swatter. Write vocab words on the board in random places. Divide the class into two teams. Give one person from each team a (new) fly swatter. Describe a word. First person to hit the correct word wins.
  • Hangman. Popular, but students don't learn much unless you're practising letters with beginners.
  • Tic-tac-toe. Great for kids and adults.
  • Hot seat. One person sits with their back to the board. The teacher writes a word on the board. The other students try to define the word and have the student say it.
  • Board race. Copy a text a couple of times and put them on the board. Put students in pairs. One person runs to the board, memorises part of the text, runs back to their partner and tells them what they remember and that student writes it down.
  • Create words. Write a long word on the board, such as "International" on the board. Give students a minute to find as many small words as they can in the word on the board.
  • Trivia. Try using Power Point to play it.
  • Word Association. Write words on the board and have students write the first word that comes to their mind.

Paper Games
  • Erase speech bubbles. Get a comic. White out the words in the speech bubbles. Photocopy it and give it to students. Have them write dialogues in the bubbles. Share with the class.
  • Dominoes. This works well with vocabulary such as prefixes, suffixes or collocations.
  • Word pool. Have a bunch of words: nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, conjuntions. Students have to make the most creative sentence they can.
  • Concentration / Scattegories. This is the game where you have categories, such as cities, verbs, adjectives, parts of a house, clothes, adverbs, etc. There's a time limit and you can even have the students use specific letters.
  • Tic-tac-toe. Have students put words, pictures, numbers, etc in the squares.
  • Word Association. Say a word. They have to write down words related to it and explain why they choose those words.
  • Describe it. Student A has a picture from a newspaper or magazine. They describe it to Student B who has to draw a picture of it. This is good for directions, such as left, right, top, bottom, etc.
  • Alphabet race. Give students a topic (cities, countries, animals, food, etc.). Have them think of a word for each letter.
  • Half a picture. Each student describes their half and the other student has to draw it. Compare pictures at the end.
TPR Games
  • Fox, Fox what time is it? Great for numbers. Students say "Fox, Fox, what time is it?". He says a number from 1 to 11. Students take that many steps. If he says "midnight", students have to try to get to the opposite side before he tags them. If they're tagged, they become foxes as well.
  • Run and touch. Put pictures around the room. Call out the word and have students run and touch the picture. To make it more difficult, put up more than one picture of the same item in different places.
  • Simon Says. Do as I say not as I do. Once the students catch on, have one of them be Simon.
Other Games
  • Chinese whispers. Have the students sit in a line. Tell the first student a word or sentence. He turns to the next person and repeats it. This continues down the line. The last person has to write the word or sentence down.
  • Time Capsule / Desert Island. Ask students what 10 things they would put in a time capsule or bring to a desert island.
  • 20 Questions. You can use famous people, movies, books, places, food, etc. Questions must be Yes / No format.
  • I spy with my little eye. Pick an object in the room or use magazine pictures that have many objects in it. Say, "I spy with my little eye, something red / an animal that walks slowly, etc" The other students have to guess what it is.
  • Boggle. Can be great to practise vocabulary.
  • Long sentences. Start a sentence, such as "My aunt's cat is fat." or "I went to the shops and bought milk." The next student has to add a word, and so on. Students have to remember the order of the words. You can also try this on paper. Students can add words. There's a time limit and the group with the longest sentence wins.
  • Translations. Bring in sentences in the student's native language. Have them translate it into English.
  • Order words. Take a long sentence, cut it up, have the students order the sentence.You can use paragraphs as well.
  • Need more ideas: Check out these great games for ESL and EFL.



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