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High School EFL/ESL Games
ESL/EFL games for high school students
Put the class into teams.
The teacher shows a team a photograph or drawing and the team must each write down one letter of that word (without showing their teammates), depending on their position. The leftmost student writes down the first letter, the next student the second letter, etc.
e.g. the teacher shows a group of five students a picture of an apple.
The leftmost student writes down "a", the next student "p", the next student "p", the next "l" and the rightmost student "e".
Give them a short timelimit (ten to twenty seconds depending on their English level) and then have them all reveal the letters they wrote. Award one point if the word is correctly spelled, then move on to the next group.
As preparing a lot of words all the same length (e.g. you have teams of 5 students each: it can be hard to think of lots of 5-letter words without going outside the students' knowledge of vocabulary) you can have words `wrap around`:
If you give a six letter word to a team of five students then the first student has to write down both the first and last letters.
Sitting the students in a ring can help them get the idea.
Making the vocabulary relevant to a current event is of course best (Halloween, Christmas, New Year, Valentines', etc).
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).
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.
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".
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.
- Break students into teams
- Each team will select a student to be the writer
- The teacher writes a sentence on the board with a blank in it, such as "I like ___."
- Each team must fill in the blank with as many English words as possible in one minute
- Have teams turn in their papers and mark the correct answers
- Explain the incorrect ones.
- The team with the most correct answers wins
- 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!
- Make sure each team has a dictionary
- Write a large word or phrase on the board
- Give teams 10 minutes to come up with as many words as possible by using the letters on the board
- When time is up, one leader from each team will say the team's words
- Each word is scored as follows:
- 1-letter words = 1 point
- 2-letter words = 3 points
- 3-letter words = 5 points
- 4-letter words = 8 points
- 5-letter words = 10 points
- 6-letter words = 12 points
- 7-letter words = 15 points
- 8 or more letter words = 20 points
- Have each time submit words one at a time and write them on the board, with no duplicate words allowed
- Words that every team has are omitted and have no point value
- Simply have teams hand in word sheets and tally scores
Use words/phrases with an 'e' and 'r' so students can make words that end in 'er'. Do the same with 'ing', 'ly', 's' and other tails. You can have each team choose a 'secretary' to write down the words and 'seekers' to look in the dictionaries.
Be sure to follow up this game by having students make sentences with some of the words (5 seems to works well) and use the words in listening exercises in future classes.
A big thanks to Troy for this EFL/ESL game!
- Have students get into teams of 4-10 people
- One person from each team does rocks, paper, scissors
- Winner says a word and opponent tries to write the word correctly
- If they get it right, their team gets a point
- If they get it wrong, the person who said the word can write it out for a point for their team
- Have another person from each team play 'Word Challenge'
- Make an 'arena' in the middle of the class for two students to face off
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!
- Draw a 6x6 bingo grid on the board
- Randomly write points in the squares
- In some squares, write 'Typhoon' instead of a number
- Stick words cards on top of the squares and cover the number/typhoon
- One team chooses a word card and must make a sentence with the word
- If they make an incorrect sentence, move on to the next team
- If they make a correct sentence, they get the number of points under the card
- Typhoons allow you to erase all the points from another team
- 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!
- Place a number of cards with the words "Who," "What," "Where," "When," "Why," and "How" face down
- Among the cards is a "China" card
- Divide the class into three groups and designate them as one of the ancient Korean kingdoms: Shilla, Baekje, and Goguryeo
- All "kingdoms" start with 100 points
- Groups take turns flipping over and one card at a time and make a question with the word
- For every correct question they make, they get two "Army" cards, which have a power of ten
- For every third correct question, they get a "Castle" card which grants 50 bonus points. (Ask: "Who do you want to attack?)
- 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
- However, whoever turns over a "China" card will cause ALL groups to lose one Castle (-50 points) and ALL their Army cards!
- 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?"
A big thanks to Ogedei for this ESL/EFL game!
- Break class into 4 or less teams
- Place a 'hot seat' in front of the class and facing away from the board
- Each team selects a leader
- One team is up at a time and their leader sits in the hot seat
- Write ten words on the board so the leader can't see them
- Number the words 1-10
- Each team member is assigned a word or words on the board
- Some team members may have more than one word
- Team members take turns communicating their word to the leader without
saying the word with no spelling, writing, or drawing allowed
- Team members can say 'pass' if their word is too difficult
- Each team has 1 minute to get as many words as possible
- The team with the most points at the end wins
- 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
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!
- 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)
- Give each player some marker pieces (colored chips work well)
- Prepare a 'coin' from cardboard, etc. with a line on each side, from the center of the coin to the edge
- Spin the coin in the middle of the circle and have the first student slam their hand down on the coin
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
- If they are right, they place one of their markers on the card
- The first student to get rid of all of their markers wins
- 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
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!