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Adult EFL/ESL Games


EFL/ESL games for adults

Kabura-Nice

Instructions

Tell the students that you are going to give them a topic. Each student is to write down (without the others seeing) an example of the topic.
For example if the teacher says "fruit" then one student might write down "apple", another "orange", etc.
They will have only ten seconds.
Once the ten seconds are up, ask the students to, one by one, reveal their answers (if you wish you can now check spelling).

In a large group the aim is for students to all have *different* answers. If everyone in the group has a different answer then they get one point (it can be made competitive by splitting the class into two groups).

Variations

In smaller groups (where it would be easy for everyone to have different answers) then reward one point for answers which are *the same*. Perhaps an additional point if a third person has that answer too, etc.

Notes

Topics depend on the English level of your students, and serve as a good lead-in to whatever class you will be teaching.
For example if you lesson will finish with a restaurant roleplay then give them the topic of "fast food" or "restaurants".

The Hot Seat

Instructions

  1. Break class into 4 or less teams
  2. Place a 'hot seat' in front of the class and facing away from the board
  3. Each team selects a leader
  4. One team is up at a time and their leader sits in the hot seat
  5. Write ten words on the board so the leader can't see them
  6. Number the words 1-10
  7. Each team member is assigned a word or words on the board
  8. Some team members may have more than one word
  9. Team members take turns communicating their word to the leader without
    saying the word with no spelling, writing, or drawing allowed
  10. Team members can say 'pass' if their word is too difficult
  11. Each team has 1 minute to get as many words as possible
  12. The team with the most points at the end wins

Variations

  • Use simple words like animals or days of the week for weaker students
  • Use the word 'pass' as one of the words on the board to challenge strong students

Notes

This game can be challenging to explain so preparing directions in the student's native language can be helpful.

 

A big thanks to Steve for this EFL/ESL game!

Running Dictation

Instructions

  1. Break students up into groups of 3-4, or pairs for small classes
  2. Put one sentence on a piece of paper for each team
  3. One leader from each team goes to the board and tries to remember their sentence
  4. The leader returns to their group and dictates the sentence while team members write it down
  5. First team to finish correctly gets a point
  6. Change words/sentences and switch leaders

Variations

  • Use pictures for children who can't spell and have them draw the picture instead of writing the words
  • Use multiple sentences for more advanced students
  • Place
    sentences around the room and have each group member do one each.
  • Groups have to put the sentences into the right order before turning in the paper

Notes

Make each team's paper different so students don't simply listen to other teams. Leaders are not allowed to take their paper, write down anything, or yell across the room. They are allowed to return to board to look at their paper as many times as they like. Use words from class to reinforce learned vocabulary and grammar structures.

What are your variations? Leave comments on other variations below...

 

A big thanks to I for this EFL/ESL game!

Nim

Instructions

  1. Prepare sets of at least 12 flashcards for each group
  2. Lay out a number of flashcards in several rows
  3. Any number of rows is possible
  4. I like to use at least 12 cards in a 3x4 format
  5. Players take turns saying and removing any number of cards from a single row
  6. The player who has to take the last card loses

Variations

  • Play with the alphabet where the student who says “Z” loses
  • Play with numbers where a number is set ahead of time to be the last number
  • Have the loser perform a silly task

Notes

A big thanks to David for this EFL/ESL game!

Minesweep

Instructions

  1. Place a number of flashcards face down
  2. Set one of the flashcards to be a whammy card
  3. Students take turns flipping over and one card at a time and say the word/sentence
  4. Whoever turns over the whammy card must perform a silly task
  5. After someone pulls the whammy card, shuffle the cards and start again

Variations

  • Make the whammy card be a “safe” card, where everyone but the student who turned over the card has to perform the silly task
  • Have players get one point for each card the say/answer correctly
  • Play this game with regular playing cards to practice numbers, with one face card as the whammy
  • Combine
    playing cards with a list, using numbers 1-6 or so and having a
    numbered list on the side with six vocabulary words/grammar structures

    • If a student turns over a 3, they say the item that is third on the list
  • Use grammar structures and/or questions for more advanced students

Notes

If you use flashcards, make sure that you can’t see through the back!

 

A big thanks to David for this EFL/ESL game!

Love Triangles

Instructions

  1. Draw a triangle on the board
  2. Write three items on the triangle, such as 'spring water', 'Coca Cola', and 'Coffee'
  3. Tell students to discuss the three items
  4. After they discuss them, ask them which one is best

Variations

  • Give students criteria to judge which is best
  • Use a line for two items
  • Use a square, pentagon, etc for more items

Notes

This English game is a good lead-in to argumentative essays and debates. Large classes can get pretty noisy.

 

A big thanks to James for this EFL/ESL game!

I Went to the Market

Instructions

  1. Divide class into groups and select one group to help demonstrate rules
  2. Teacher starts by saying, "I went to the market and I bought an apple."
  3. Student next to the teacher follows by saying, "I went to the market and I bought an apple and some eggs."
  4. The next student continues by saying, "I went to the market and I bought an apple, some eggs, and a potato."
  5. Play continues with each student repeating what previous members said and adding one item to the shopping list

Variations

  • I went to the electronics store and I bought...
  • When I go on vacation I will take...
  • Next year, when my friend and I go skiing in France, we must remember to take...

Notes

This game allows students to demonstrate the range of vocabulary that they know, or simply to use what you have been teaching them recently. Good game to practice all kinds of verb tenses.

A big thanks to Anna for this ESL/EFL game!

Guess Who

Instructions

  1. Identity a student leader for the class or individual groups
  2. Ask leader to think of a famous person
  3. In turn, group members will ask yes/no questions to get information about the target celebrity
  4. If a group member receives a 'yes' to their question, they can ask one follow up question
  5. If the answer to a group member's question is no, play passes to the next student
  6. Play continues until a student is ready to guess who it is
  7. Students can only guess who it is when it is their turn

Variations

  • This game can be played as 'Guess What', in which case students are playing to identify an object, animal, etc
    • It is often good to start with an object in the room until students get the hang of it

Notes

You may choose to prepare a handout of possible questions to get things started and help weaker students as play progresses. Some possible questions are:

  • Are you famous?
  • Are you in this school?
  • Are you a man?
  • Are you a woman?
  • Are you an actor?
  • Are you a singer?
  • etc.

This
game is a part of the "Chris Moyles Show" on BBC Radio. The running music on the radio shows adds to the fun and tension of the game. Add recorded sound effects such as a ticking clock, Jeopardy, etc. to create a better atmosphere for the game. You could also give the leader two 'instruments' to make things more fun -- a hooter for 'no' answers and a bell or triangle for 'yes' answers.

 

A big thanks to Anna for this ESL/EFL game!

Discovering Sentences

Instructions

  1. Give each student a photocopy of a list of 150-300 mixed words
  2. Have students make sentences with the words

Variations

  • Who can make the shortest sentence?
  • Who can make the longest sentence?
  • Who can make the most sentences?

Notes

This is a great time to emphasize capitalization and punctuation, and teach sentence types and give examples such as:

  • Imperative: Do it!
  • Interrogative: Do What?
  • Declarative: Do this.
  • Exclamatory: Help me!
  • etc.

Textbooks are allowed, as are superlatives, past tenses, plurals and other suffixes, etc. that can be devised from the basic words on the list:

  • SAY: said, saying, says, etc.
  • BAD: badder, baddest, badly, badness, etc.

Some possible sources for your word list:

  • The 500 Most Commonly Used Words in the English Language
  • The 100 Most Commonly Used Verbs in the English Language

A big thanks to bill for this EFL/ESL game!

Dictation Game

Instructions

  1. Select a dialogue/short story from the lesson
  2. Have each student work with a partner
  3. One student reads the dialogue/short story
  4. The other student writes it down
  5. The first team to finish it correctly wins

Variations

Have groups of 3 with one 'runner' who relays between reader and writer

Notes

Writers should not look at textbook but readers can look at what writers are writing. Readers should also tell writers all punctuation and capitals. Make sure to teach readers how to say important phrases like, "How do you spell ~?", "Say it again, please.", etc.

 

A big thanks to Troy for this ESL/EFL game!

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