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EFL/ESL Alphabet Games


EFL/ESL games for learning and practicing the alphabet

Stand and Spell

Instructions

  1. Make list of words for students to spell
  2. Write students' names on the board
  3. Give each student one letter to be and write it next to their names
  4. Call out a word to be spelled
  5. Students stand next to each other to spell the word

Variations

  • Give each student a large alphabet card to hold above their head
  • Have one student be the leader who places students in the right position
  • Make teams for bigger classes
  • Give groups a time limit to spell the word

Notes

If one student's letter comes up more than once in a word, they can move and this makes the game more fun. Use the variation and make the 'quiet' student the leader to help include them in class.

 

A big thanks to Troy 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!

Human Alphabet

Instructions

  1. Clear lots of room on the floor
  2. Divide class into teams of 3 students
  3. After you say a letter kids must lie down on the floor and make the shape of the letter using their bodies
  4. The first correct team to finish wins

Variations

  • Have larger teams spell words as they become more advanced

Notes

Have 2-3 teams participate at one time or it becomes to hard to watch them all. It is a good idea to help guide them in learning the correct way to make/write the letter as students often make the letter backwards or spell 'Z' when you say 'D'.

Bring alphabet cards to class to show the kids if they are incorrect or have don't know the letter. Or, take pictures of your kids, print them up, and use them as alphabet
cards.

 

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

Alphabet Card Spelling Game

Instructions

  1. Prepare sets of alphabet cards with one letter on each card
  2. Prepare a list of vocabulary words from class
  3. Divide the class into groups of 2 or 3 of roughly equal ability if possible
  4. Give each group 2 sets of cards (10 groups = 20 sets of cards)
  5. Have students scatter the cards face down in front of them
  6. Tell the students a word to spell and write it on the board if necessary
  7. Students look for letters to spell the word in order
  8. After spelling it correctly, students raise their hand
  9. Check their spelling and if its correct, give them the next one

Variations

  • Use lower case cards
  • Use upper case cards
  • Include punctuation marks and have more advanced students make sentences

Notes

Make sure students turn letters back face down if they don't need them to spell the word. You can have each group race against each other to finish, or simply see how many words they can spell correctly in a given amount of time.

 

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

Alphabet Card Game

Instructions

  1. Prepare sets of small cards with one letter on each card
  2. Divide the class into groups of 2 or 3 (equal ability is desirable)
  3. Give each group 2 sets of cards (10 groups = 20 sets of cards)
  4. Have the groups scatter their cards face down on the floor or tables put together
  5. Students turn over one card at a time to find consecutive letters starting with 'A'
  6. Have them arrange the cards in any way they like, such as spirals or other patters
  7. If they turn over the wrong card they put it back face down and select another
  8. The first team to arrange all the letters first wins

Variations

  • Use lower case and upper case card sets
  • Give each team a stop watch to time themselves
  • Instead of playing against other teams they can try and beat their own time
  • Have them arrange the alphabet backwards

Notes

We have been using scratch paper cut into business card-sized pieces. After a hundred uses they are holding up fine.

 

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

In The Mix

Instructions

  1. Prepare a set of flashcards based on a theme (colors, numbers, months, etc.) with words students know
  2. Prepare another set of flashcards based on a theme with words students don't know
  3. Break class up into two teams
  4. Have teams line up in two lines space in between
  5. Place a random object in between the teams (card, book, etc.)
  6. Review flashcards that students have learned
  7. Place one flashcard from the new set into the review set and shuffle
  8. Show class one flashcard and have them say the word
  9. Repeat with next flashcard in the pile
  10. When the new word turns up, one first person from each team makes a grab for the object (they can slap it if it is a card)
    1. Whichever team grabs/slaps the object first gets a point
  11. Elicit the new word and teach the meaning
  12. Insert another new word flashcard and call up the next students in line

Variations

  • With very small classes, play in a seated circle with very small groups and place enough objects for everyone but one or two students in the middle

Notes

Flyswatters are great props to use with this game, having students swat the object/card in the middle. Just make sure to wrap the flat end in packaging tape to make it more durable.

 

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

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