In this episode of TEFL Tips, I share my five favourite word games that I like to incorporate in my classes at those final ten or fifteen minutes of the lesson when you don’t know what to do. It is an essential skill to know at least five games that you can start using with minimal preparation or planning required. 

Are you unsure what to do in the last ten or fifteen minutes of a lesson? Do you always use the same game with your learners? If so, watch this video to see what five games I use in class with no material needed.

One of the most challenging aspects of English teaching is to engage learners and make them remember new vocabulary. Today, I am showing you five word games that can help you improve engagement and interest in your lessons.

The activities that I am sharing can be incorporated with minimal resources but just some scraps of paper and some language from the lesson.

The tips include:

  • Tip Number 1: Group Hangman
    • This is a classic game which can be used to recycle and review language from a previous lesson, at the beginning of class, or to consolidate learning at the end of a lesson. This activity is usually done as an open class, but I like to make it a little competitive and put students into two groups. Each group take turns in guessing a letter and the first group to correctly guess the word, gains a point. The group with the most points are the winners. It is a great twist on an already classic game.
  • Tip Number 2: Chinese Whispers
    • This is another wonderful game which gets students to review spelling and language which has already been taught in class. You can place this with the whole class but as with the idea before, I like to place the class into two teams. I get students to sit in two rows facing the whiteboard and I half the board into two. Then I get students to think of a team name and give each of the two students sitting at the front a boardmarker. I go to the back of the class and show a word or phrase that has been taught and students whisper the word to the student in front and so on. Once the student at the front hears the word or phrase, they have to write it on the board. I give one point for the student who correctly wrote the word or phrase first. It can get quite competitive between students. As a last task, I show them the phrase ‘break time’ or ‘lunch time’ and they know it is the end of class. Just make sure you get the students to tidy up before they leave.
  • Tip Number 3: Boggle
    • For those that don’t know Boggle, it is a basic game whereby players attempt to find words from a random assortment of 16 letters. You can either use the original Boggle set and then write up the letters on the whiteboard or you can write up a random selection of letters and get students to write words. This will help students review spelling and if you want, as with the two other activities, you could put students into pairs or small groups to make it competitive. Set a time limit and then the most correct words written between each pair or small group of learners are the winners. It is a simple activity and you don’t really need anything other than a whiteboard, some letters and a few slips of paper for students.
  • Tip Number 4: Alphabetical Race
    • This is a simple task for the class to help them review vocabulary that has been taught. Get students to stand in two rows facing the whiteboard, much like Chinese Whispers. Tell students that you will call out a topic and that the first student must write a word starting with the letter ‘A’, then the next student must write a word starting with ‘B’, the next is letter ‘C’ and so on until time runs out or the group finish with ‘Z’. For example, if you call out the topic ‘fruit’, the first student could write up ‘Apple’, the next ‘Banana’, then ‘Cherry’ and so on. It is a simple fun activity with again no material needed. So what are you waiting for? Try this game out!
  • Tip Number 5: Odd One Out
    • This is a classic activity whereby you give students five words and they have to think of the odd word out. So, if you had the words: ‘orange’, ‘grapes’, ‘onion’, ‘banana’ and ‘apple’ the odd word out could be ‘onion’ as all the others are fruit. It is a simple game but a lot more enjoyable when played in small groups. You could either write up the words on the whiteboard, dictate the words to the students to get them practising their spelling or handout the words on a worksheet to save them time. You could give the students a time limit of ten or twenty minutes to work through the various groups of words. Then review and award points to each correct group with the right answer. You could also award a bonus point for each correct reason. This activity works best for language that has been taught but it doesn’t have to be just limited to groups of lexis such as fruit, animals, etc. You could include regular or irregular verbs, pronunciation patterns, etc.

So, these are my five favourite word games that I like to use in class and the best thing about these games are they require little to no material. Just you, the students and a board marker essentially. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode and if you did, please let me know in the comments below. It would be great to hear which game you will try out next with your class and whether you have another word game you like to incorporate in your ESL class.

Previous TEFL Tip episodes:

Here are some of the recommended books for those wishing to undertake the CELTA:

  1. English Grammar in Use: https://amzn.to/2F1N9c7
  2. Learning Teaching: https://amzn.to/2KGjGIj
  3. Teaching English Grammar: https://amzn.to/2X1SiuO

Other CELTA Videos to watch:

If you have a question, please leave a comment and I will try to answer.

Happy Teaching! 👨‍🏫👩‍🏫