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EFL/ESL Writing Games

ESL/EFL games to practice writing skills



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.


- 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.


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.

Write Now!


  1. Break students into teams
  2. Each team will select a student to be the writer
  3. The teacher writes a sentence on the board with a blank in it, such as "I like ___."
  4. Each team must fill in the blank with as many English words as possible in one minute
  5. Have teams turn in their papers and mark the correct answers
  6. Explain the incorrect ones.
  7. The team with the most correct answers wins
  8. Have teams change writers, write a new sentence, and play again


Make sentences structures that allow students to practice grammar structures they are learning, such as countable and uncountable nouns. Students get pretty loud shouting out answers to their writers so be sure to close the doors and windows.


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



  1. Draw a 6x6 bingo grid on the board
  2. Randomly write points in the squares
  3. In some squares, write 'Typhoon' instead of a number
  4. Stick words cards on top of the squares and cover the number/typhoon
  5. One team chooses a word card and must make a sentence with the word
  6. If they make an incorrect sentence, move on to the next team
  7. If they make a correct sentence, they get the number of points under the card
  8. Typhoons allow you to erase all the points from another team
  9. The team with the most points at the end wins


  • Play with 'Bankrupt' instead of 'Typhoon'
  • Use category cards instead of word cards
  • Make a minimum number of words for each sentence
  • Have students listen and repeat after correct sentences


Keep track of the sentences students make and use them for a follow-up activity.


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



  1. Divide the class in half
  2. Divide the blackboard/whiteboard in half with a line
  3. Students all stand up and form lines on opposite sides of the room and can only write on their side of the board
  4. Provide a first word in the middle of the board
  5. The
    first student in each team writes a word to follow the first word

    1. The
      word must start with a letter that is the same letter as the last
      letter of the previous word
    2. For example, if the first word is "dog," then the next word is "good"
    3. The list goes one: dog->good->deer->read...
  6. Each student takes a turn and opposing teams attempt to make the longest list
  7. Set a 5 to 10-minute time limit
  8. Words cannot appear twice on the list


  • Have several 4 to 5-minute game "rounds"
    • In the first round, all team
      members participate
    • In the second round, both teams choose their best
      member and those two students square off in a one-on-one match with
      teams providing support by shouting out words
    • In the third round, two
      of the from each team square off


This game is derived from a Japanese game of the same name. "Shiri"
means "end" and "tori" means "take." The basic idea is to take the end
of a word and use it as the start of another word. A Japanese example
would be sake -> kendo -> dorobo -> boku -> kusuri, etc.


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

Sentence Jumble



  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


  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


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


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


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

Running Dictation


  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


  • 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


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


  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



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!

Discovering Sentences


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


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


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


  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


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


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!

Dice of Fortune


  1. Play individually or in pairs for smaller groups; form teams for larger groups
  2. Write a standard 'Hangman' blanks phrase on the board
  3. Students must roll a die right before they guess a letter
  4. They are awarded points according to how many of their chosen letters appear in the puzzle
  5. For example, if a student rolls a '3' and guesses the letter 't', they would get 3 points for every 't' found in the puzzle
  6. If a student rolls a '1' they go bankrupt and lose all of the their points


  • Allow students to "bank" their point at the end of the round and use them in the next one
  • '1' and '3' = lose a turn, '2' = $200, 4 = $400, '5' = Bankrupt, '6' = $600
  • Charge a 'fee' for guessing a vowel
  • Have students play in groups and let one person be the 'leader'


Try choosing a phrase that relates to what the class has been studying -- this is a great game to play to review questions that the class had difficulty with on a test.


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

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