Games and Activities to play with EnglishLessonPacks

Whether you have an ESL class of children, teenagers or adults incorporating games and dynamic activities is a must. As well as completing all of the activities that I include in every pack I love extending the material by playing games. This page serves as an ever increasing list of ESL games that you can play using the materials that are included in every English Lesson Pack.

I strongly recommend getting the following four resources. They are by no means necessary but they definitely add a different dynamic to a lesson.

Colored Pens – Should be used to highlight words in the text

Dice – Used in lots of games to add a bit of randomness

Mini Whiteboards – One for you and the rest for your students. Use them in games and quick activities.

Buzzers – Are your students competitive? Adding buzzers to a classroom dramatically helps to gamify the learning process.

ESL Flash Card Games

  1. Explain that word – Give students a set amount of time to explain a word.
  2. M/T/D – Mime/Talk/Draw – You can use pieces of paper or dice to decide which method the student has to use to describe the word.
  3. What’s missing? – Arrange the flashcards on the table. Give students 15 seconds to look at the cards. Tell them to close their eyes and then remove one or two cards. The student who guesses correctly wins.
  4. That’s me – The teacher distributes the cards among the students. The teacher then defines one of the words. If the student thinks they have a word with that meaning they should call out “That’s me!”.
  5. Alphabet shout out! – Distribute the cards to the students. The aim of the game is for the students to say all of the words on the flashcards in the correct alphabetical order. The trick is that they can only see their own cards. When they make a mistake they have to restart.
  6. Hopscotch – Place the cars in a hopscotch pattern. Students attempt to pass to the end. In order to progress to the next step, students must use the word correctly in a sentence.
  7. Make that question. The teacher holds up a flashcard, the first student that creates a question using the word wins the card.
  8. Copycat – Whatever the teacher says the students must copy. Normally when we play this we start with just one word, then two, then three and continue until nobody can copy the teacher.
  9. Make them say it – Two students show a flashcard to each other making sure they don’t see their own flashcard. They must ask questions and talk to their partner and try to get them to say the word on their card.
  10. What was the order? – Place the cards in a 3×3 grid. Students must memorize the position of the words in the grid. After a given amount of time, the teacher mixes the cards. Wait 10 seconds. SS must then reorder the words BUT if they want to touch a card they must shout out the word.

Talking Points Games

  1. Speak – Students must speak for a set amount of time about the topic.
  2. Silent word – Students are not allowed to say a particular word/s. As a group students can brainstorm words that are banned.
  3. The Journalist – Students must tell their partner their opinion and then the partner tells the class.
  4. Who are you? – Students talk about the topic as if they were another person. Students can then guess who that person is.
  5. Was that true? – Students give their opinion about the topic but are they telling the truth or lying?

Text Games

  1. Can you say that quicker? – Select a paragraph from the text. Get the stopwatch on your phone ready and time how long it takes each student to read the paragraph aloud. Repeat with students trying to beat their original time.
  2. Line call out. Call out a line number. Students have a set amount of time to memorize the line. Students must repeat the line. Have students peer correct the sentence.
  3. Cut it up! Cut up the text or just one paragraph into smaller pieces. Students must work together to piece them back together in a logical order.
  4. Blackout! – Divide students into groups and give them a black marker pen. Tell them to choose a certain amount of words in the text/paragraph and black them out. Swap papers, the groups must then think of a suitable word for the gap.
  5. Only One. – As a group, the students must read the text aloud by only saying one word each at a time. Try to maintain a nice rhythm.
  6. Now read it like a …. – Students must read a paragraph in a particular style. You could use feelings, accents, situations, jobs, anything! Get students to brainstorm ideas before you start.

Comprehension, post-reading and gap fill games

  • With these activities, we love to use peer correction. Peer correction is a great technique to keep your students engaged and constantly thinking. Peer correction can be especially useful in classes with shy students. Students work together, correcting each other’s work which in turn creates a positive learning environment. There are a few ways you can implement peer correction in the classroom.
  •  The simplest way is for students to peer correct with a partner or the person next to them.
  • Depending on the size of the class you could further expand this by having 1 pair compare their answers with another pair
  • Give your students some differently colored pens. Students take it in turns to correct each other’s work. If they want to correct something they can use the colored pen if they think everything is correct they can give it a tick. This is an easy, simple and colorful way for students to compare opinions.

Debate Topics

We believe that in order to make debates useful and beneficial for students you must follow a structure. Before starting the debate, organize your students into two teams. Flip a coin to decide who is for and who is against the statement. Then give your students time to prepare their arguments, we normally say that each student must have a different argument that supports their position. When everyone is ready we follow this structure:

  1. Opening statements – One person from each team must give an opening statement. This is a 20 second or so introduction to their arguments.
  2. Against – The team who is against the statement then gives their arguments. Make sure everyone on the team speaks and gives at least one argument.
  3. For -Repeat with the team who is in support of the statement. During step 2 and 3 there should be only 1 person speaking at a time.
  4. Open Discussion – Students can talk openly, asking questions and defending their points.
  5. Closing Statements – One person from each team gives a closing statement. This should be a brief conclusion of what has been said.

You should award points to students based on the quality of their arguments, for following the structure of the debate, for contributing and for using new vocabulary.

Role plays

  1. Be emotional – Roll a dice. Each number corresponds to a different emotion/feeling. e.g. 1= angry, 2= happy, 3= sad, 4= excited, 5= scared, 6= surprised.  Students must conduct the role play with their chosen emotion. I regularly change the emotions/feeling an include more difficult ones for higher levels, for example, 1= disappointed, 2= optimistic, 3= hurt, 4= apologetic, 5= smug, 6= mischievous.
  2. Backstory – Create an added context for the role play. Let’s take the classic role play of ordering food, which can be a little dry so let’s spice it up with a creative backstory. For example, you think the waiter is a spy and wants to poison your food or someone is chasing you and you have come into the restaurant to hide. If you have creative students get them to think of ideas.

Vocabulary List games

Drills, drills, drills. Depending on how your students have completed the list you can play a variety of games. These drill games are speaking only. The general pace of the activities is high. We want to try and encourage students to respond instinctively.

  1. It’s a race – Cover up the English and have students race against the clock to translate the words from their language to English.
  2. Point and Speak – With the English covered, the teacher points to one student and says a number. The student must translate that word to English if they are correct they can point to another student and say a number. If the student doesn’t know they are out. The game continues until only one person is left or after a certain time has elapsed.
  3. Call it out! – Choose one student in the class, they are the caller. They should call out a definition/synonym/translation, the first student to say the English word wins.
  4. Auction – Hold an auction. Give each student a specific amount of money. They may use this money to bid on words. Auction the words one by one. After every word you auction off, the buyer must perform a task using the word for example by making a sentence using the word/give a definition. If they are correct they keep the word. The student with the most words at the end of the auction wins!