Using Games in Teaching English

The Court

The class is divided into two teams. The teacher says " the court is the living room ". One team starts by saying an object that can be found in the " court ", the living room in this example. The opposing team answers with another object that can be found in the " court ". The game goes on until one object is repeated or a team can not say another object to answer back. Then one point is given to the winning team. The teacher then changes the " court " and another set " is played. The team that wins three out of five sets is the winner.

Julio Valladares
Richmond Publishing Consultant - Peru

Clap the Number

Materials: none.

Sit the students in a big circle around the class but leave some random seats free. Tell the students that they are going to count but that every 5th student must not say the number but clap her/ his hands. If a student forgets to clap ( saying the number instead ), says a wrong number or takes too long to count, s/he is placed in another seat while the counting continues, the student is not taken out of the game. Alternatively, the teacher may decide to ask every 3 rd, 7 th, Nth student to clap her/ his hand.

Cesar Klauer


Materials: Chalk or markers to write on board.

The class is divided into two teams. A line is drawn on the board to make two equal areas. Each team sends a representative to the board. The teacher says a word which the team representatives write from top to bottom of their corresponding board areas. Then, with each single letter of the word, they write another word. Proper nouns and the original teacher´s word are not permitted. The student who finishes first shouts " Ready!" so that the other student stops writing.This student should be the winner, provided that all the words he/she wrote are correct and will award one point to his team.The members of the team who are sitting must not say what words to write to their representative. The game finishes when all the team members have had a go at the board. The team with more points wins.

Battleship 2

The game is played on a grid similar to a game of battleship. The size of the grid depends on the number of students and the time limits of the class. Basically the students pick a grid reference, say " A 1" and then you pick the task. There can be many tasks, you have them roll a dice and then they need to think of that many words for a letter of your choice. Then they recieve that many points, ie, what ever they rolled. You can vary it at will if you pretend you are working of a prepared plan, sometimes I have them name ten body parts, or five things from the kitchen, bathroom, etc. Thus it can be modified to suit anything you have been working on. To add a bit of spice I also have a bomb every now and then that I throw in when 1 team is running away with it, they just miss a turn with the sound and drawing of a bomb. The kids love this bit and are always wary of the bomb. I also have a missle, the drawing of a missle which can be used to blow up one of the oppositions scores. You can use all these but make sure you pretend to be working of a plan as if the kids pick up that you are making them up to suit the game they go nuts. The winner of the game is the team with the most points. Make sure you have enough time to finish as the students get pretty angry if squares are left on the board
.Good luck


Good for the end of the lesson for practising numbers (or general vocab.).
Make a different grid of sixteen random numbers for each class member. Write a number list for yourself.
Explain that the students must mark off the numbers in their grids as you call them out, and that if they finish the grid, shout
Call out the list:
When a student shouts "BINGO", ask them to read out their numbers, and check them off on your list.
The winner gets a pencil sharpener or rubber, which they will treasure.
Draw vocabulary objects in the grids (eg. cabbage, tall man, short man, computer etc.), then call them out or (for artists) write in the grids and draw them on the board.

Tic Tac Toe 4

Alternative Tic Tac Toe (for paper or whiteboard)
Draw the usual # but instead of using a pen, use only 3 items per student (instead of the normal 4). Three blue paper pieces, 3 red etc (use tape on the back for white board). The game does not end until there is a winner. In otherwords, the children keep moving the pieces in turn until there is a winner.
If you want to use vocabulary lists, they need to take a new word each time.

The Lion Game

Materials: 4 lions, each a different colour, an explorer, a jeep, two special dice and a playing area. I usually draw a grid on my whiteboard to make the playing area. By varying the size of the grid I can control the game length.
Set up: place one lion in each corner of the playing area. Place the jeep and the explorer anywhere, preferably as far apart as possible.
Method of play: give a student a simple task. If the student succeeds give the student the 'explorer' dice. If the student makes a mistake give the student the 'lion dice'. The explorer can escape the lions by getting to the jeep and then driving the jeep off the playing area. The lions always move towards the explorer. If a lion lands on the explorer, the explorer is eaten. If the jeep is rolled move it away from the explorer. When the explorer has reached the jeep only move the explorer when the jeep is rolled (i.e. ignore explorer rolls).
Comments: The above description assumes that the students want to save the explorer. One alternative is to let the students choose which dice to throw which may create competition if some students want to save the explorer and others want to get the explorer eaten. Another possibility is to ask the students where a playing piece should be moved. With very young students it is possible to play the game without them realising that there are actually two dice.

Pass the hat!

You will need two objects, a bag and a hat and some music (lively is better). Fill the bag with questions, requests whatever you may be reviewing at the moment. Start the hat at one side of the room and the bag at the other. Have the students pass the bag and hat while listening to music. When the music stops, the students who are holding the bag and the cap must stand up. The person with the bag must ask a question to the person with the hat. Keep going alternating the time between stopping the music. The students get really excited with this activity, it is really a lot of fun!
HINT: Use a funny hat and when explaining the game put the hat on the students heads, they really get a kick out of it!

Word Games

Put any word known to the kids on the board, eg: lemon. Circle the "n" and get them to make a word beginning with that letter. Then take the last letter of that word, and repeat the process. This can be done in teams, or just getting kids to shout out words at random. They may not repeat a word.
Another word game: put a simple word on the board, eg. big. They have to make a new word, by changing only one letter at a time. EG: big, bag, rag, etc. This also works well in teams, especially if you set a time limit and the winning team is the one who makes the most words, no repeats allowed, of course.


Anonymous said...

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Moh'd Kamal - Egypt

SaritaAgerman said...

Hi! Thank you so much for this post! I'm an English teacher in Italy and it's always great to have games at hand for the classroom in an emergency.

I've written several posts about classroom activities & English grammar that inshallah you might find useful too.

Game: Picture Dictation http://saritaagerman.blogspot.it/2012/10/teacher-notes-picture-dictation.html

Motivating Young Learners: http://saritaagerman.blogspot.it/2012/08/tips-for-motivating-children-in-class.html

Thanks again!