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EFL/ESL Speaking Games


EFL/ESL games to practice speaking skills

Secret Word

Instructions

  1. Student A leaves the room.
  2. The other students choose a secret word
  3. Then student A returns and has to ask questions to elicit the secret word
  4. Example questions include: Is it a character/object, Where does it live, What tasks can it be used for, etc.

Notes

I only have a class of ten students so it is easy to get everyone involved. So any variations for a bigger class are welcome,

Telephone

Instructions

1. Divide class into groups of 6 or more, and arrange each group in a straight line or row.

2. Ask for a volunteer listener from each group. Take them outside of the classroom and give them a message (one sentence or more, depending on student level).

3. Open the door, and let the students run to the first member of their group to whisper the message.

4. Each member passes the message, by whispering, to their neighbor.

5. When the message reaches the end, the last person should run to the board and write the message that they heard. 

The winner could be determined in various ways: first team to pass a legible, complete message (even if it's wrong), first team to finish, first team with a message closest to the original.

Variations

- Ask the last student to repeat the message to YOU, and write it on the board yourself. This is a good way to practice pronunciation, and to determine which sounds students have trouble with.

Notes

This game could take up 5 minutes or 30, depending on how much time you have and how interested the kids are. I've used it with high schoolers in Korea and they loved it. We spent over half the class on this activity.

Word Challenge

Instructions

  1. Have students get into teams of 4-10 people
  2. One person from each team does rocks, paper, scissors
  3. Winner says a word and opponent tries to write the word correctly
  4. If they get it right, their team gets a point
  5. If they get it wrong, the person who said the word can write it out for a point for their team
  6. Have another person from each team play 'Word Challenge'

Variations

  • Make an 'arena' in the middle of the class for two students to face off

Notes

Students will start to look up difficult words to stump the other team. Remember to to a follow-up assignment for words used, such as teaching the class the meanings and having students make sentences with the new words.

 

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

Three Kingdoms

Instructions

  1. Place a number of cards with the words "Who," "What," "Where," "When," "Why," and "How" face down
  2. Among the cards is a "China" card
  3. Divide the class into three groups and designate them as one of the ancient Korean kingdoms: Shilla, Baekje, and Goguryeo
  4. All "kingdoms" start with 100 points
  5. Groups take turns flipping over and one card at a time and make a question with the word
  6. For every correct question they make, they get two "Army" cards, which have a power of ten
  7. For every third correct question, they get a "Castle" card which grants 50 bonus points. (Ask: "Who do you want to attack?)
  8. After making a correct question, groups can choose to continue taking Army cards OR they can choose to use up their army cards to attack another group and destroy their points
  9. However, whoever turns over a "China" card will cause ALL groups to lose one Castle (-50 points) and ALL their Army cards!

Variations

  • Make smaller groups and include other "kingdoms" such as Gaya and Mahan
  • If you are teaching in other countries change names
    • For example, if you are teaching in China, you can change the "Kingdom" names to states or dynasties in Chinese history and have the "Huns" or ;quot;Mongols" as the killer card
  • Include other question words, not just the standard who, what, where, when, why, and how
  • Put grammar or trivia questions on cards
  • Assign each group a "capital city" as a starter castle and city names or specific castle names to "castle cards," this way you can also "Who do you want to attack?" and "Where do you want to attack?" or "What do you want to attack?"

Notes

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

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!

Spin the Coin

Instructions

  1. Lay out an arbitrary number of flashcards in a circle
    formation, making sure the edges of the flashcards are touching (i.e.
    no “holes” in the circle: taping the cards down helps)
  2. Give each player some marker pieces (colored chips work well)
  3. Prepare a 'coin' from cardboard, etc. with a line on each side, from the center of the coin to the edge
  4. Spin the coin in the middle of the circle and have the first student slam their hand down on the coin
  5. The
    line on the coin serves as a pointer and the student says the
    vocabulary word or grammar structure on the card the line points to
  6. If they are right, they place one of their markers on the card
  7. The first student to get rid of all of their markers wins

Variations

  • Use pictures for less advanced students
  • Have special flashcards such as 'place your marker on any available card' or 'remove 1 marker from a card'
  • Only allow one marker on each card

Notes

If you are using only a few flashcards, make the number of markers be equal to the number of flashcards.

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

Sentence Jumble

Instructions

Preparation:

  1. Make a series of sentences, three more than the number of teams in your class
  2. Print the sentences in large text
  3. Cut each sentence into separate words
  4. Put each sentence into its separate envelopes
  5. Number each envelope with a marker

Instructions:

  1. Diving the class into pairs or small groups
  2. Give each team one envelope
  3. Students arrange the words into a correct sentence, copy it into their notebooks, and put words back into envelope
  4. When finished, students say the sentence, show their notebooks, and bring their envelope to the teacher
  5. If sentence is not correct, they go back and fix the error
  6. If sentence is correct, they can swap their envelope for a new one with a different sentence
  7. The first team to unscramble all of the sentences is the winner

Variations

  • Use easy sentences for less advanced students
  • Use more complex sentences for more advanced students

Notes

This game is a sure success with any level or age group

 

A big thanks to Brian for this ESL/EFL 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!

Run and Write

Instructions

  1. Give each team a list of words
  2. Have each team select a leader
  3. Teacher says one word from list several times
  4. Teams search for word, then have leader go to board and write word
  5. Leaders must give teach a Hi-five after writing the word correctly
  6. First leader to give the teacher hi-five gets five points
  7. Next leader to finished gets 4 points, next one 3, etc

Variations

Notes

You can make a word list or just use the word index in the back of your textbook. Students cannot shout letters out to leader but they can show it to her/him as many times as they need. Encourage them to say the letters out loud when the leader come over for help. Subtracting a point from noisy teams helps keep things under control.
Make sure to switch leaders after every word and do a follow up exercise with the words used.

 

A big thanks to Nick 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!

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