ESL Games Activities - English Language Classroom


This ESL Classroom Game is known as "TABOO." TABOO is seen as a fun activity that helps enhance upcoming vocab and it's a hoot to experience!

To learn this esl activity the ESL teacher will first divide the class in to not one but two groups. The tutor will then choose a number from 1 to 10. Whichever crew guesses the proper number should get to go 1st.

Right after a single crew has won the right to play 1st... the teacher will bring 1 of the students up to the blackboard. The ESL teacher will immediately turn the esl student so that his/her back is actually facing the chalkboard / whiteboard.

The esl teacher will compose the Key word on the chalkboard. For this instance i will say that this Keyword is "SPIDERMAN."

Spiderman will now become TABOO. And also, since Spiderman is Taboo, none of the students can say the word "Spiderman."

Below any Keyword the esl instructor will then generate a few other key phrases that are additionally Taboo. Which means the esl pupils can not mention these 3 sub key terms either. For this illustration the teacher would write three words that your scholars cannot mention - because doing so gives away the main keyword.

The three words under the primary keyword/taboo word shall be:

Peter Parker



The blackboard / whiteboard will appear like this:


Word 1 - Word 2 - Word 3

The individuals can not say any of the written text in the above list and they also cannot create any Movements to aid the esl student with his/her back to the board.

When the teacher says, "Begin" the 1 group will get a couple of minutes to help the esl student guess this keyword. The esl students may give clues like these:

"Your guy is in fact a male."

"The person has some sort of bug on his shirt."

"The guy has a ex-girlfriend."

"His aunt's name is definitely May."

"The person dons some sort of light blue and red outfit."

"Sometimes the guy battles Venom, Sandman as well as the Green Goblin."

"The person has got his well-known comic."

"This bug on his upper body possesses 8 legs."

"The person ended up being bit by some sort of radio energetic bug and it made the boy unique."

If perhaps any of the esl pupils utter one of the Taboo terms, his/her team cannot get a point. In case your student with his back turned to the board says, "Spiderman" - his/her squad will get one point.

After this group gets the point or time runs out; the groups will change. This specific ESL activity is called Taboo. If you teach English abroad it is one of the best ESL games in which you can easily play because it is pleasurable and this helps to strengthen and teach language. Plus on top of this... the individuals will have a good time even when they are studying English as a Second Language.

Describing Appearances & Characteristics of People

Each student is given one sheet of paper. One student sits at the front of a room.  He/she describes a person and the rest of the class draws the person being described. TEFL teachers give an example first such as the "Headmaster" another teacher, famous people like Harry Potter or Super Hero's. With a beginner's class it's advisable to next ask a more confident student to proceed with their description.

It is more interesting if the person being described is known by everyone. Once the student has finished describing that person then he/she reveals who it is and each student shows his/her drawing. The laughter from this can be hilarious as the impressions tend to make the character in question look funny.

It is a good idea to encourage students to ask the interviewee student questions about who they are describing.


Write out a series of categories like professions (doctor, bus driver, hairdresser, etc.), animals, foods, actions (fishing, driving, diving etc.) then divide the class into groups of 2. One student draws and the other guesses. Next turn, the guesser draws and drawer guesses. This game works best with a stop watch (30 seconds or a minute depending upon the level). This is designed for a warmer game.


Then for another day take the same categories (or create new ones) and play the same game except students, this time, act it out (no speaking or noises).

Related Keyword Race

Divide your students into teams. Give each team one piece of paper and one pencil. The teacher will write the main "Keyword" on the board. When the teacher says, "Go!" the teams will write as many other words which are related to the main keyword on their piece of paper. Give the class 5 - 10 minutes to complete this project. When time is up... tell each team to come up in front of the blackboard and say aloud their related keywords. The team that has the most keywords gets a point and the team which has the best related keywords also gets a point.
An example would look like this: Main Keyword: HOUSE Related Keywords:
Living Room

X or O

Divide the class into two teams, one is X and the other O. Choose a topic, such as clothes, and draw nine squares on the board and number them one to nine. Write a random letter in each square and ask the students to choose one of the squares. The students have to give a word that begins with the letter in the square and is also a member of the chosen topic, such a hat for h, sock for s. As the topic example is clothes. If they give a correct word they get to mark the square with their teams letter, X or O. The first team to make a line of three in a row e.g. OOO is the winner.

9 letters game

The teacher divides the class into teams. The teacher writes nine letters on the board, including the letters a, e, i, o, u. Students have to make words using the letters. They get a point for each letter in a word, so a word such as 'beach' would get their team five points. The team with the most points in an allotted time is the winner.


The teacher says a verb and the students mime the action. The teacher then shouts 'stop' and the students have to freeze. Any students that do not remain still are out. The last student left is the winner.

Alexy blogs at
Visit for more info on teaching ESL.

Prepositions----Connecting Words and Making Sentences

Can use the prepositions below to do a snakes and ladders game or better still a Treasure Hunt

Cross over the garden near the end of the wall

Next to the kettle
Through the door and down the stairs
Across the street
Below the table leg
On top of the fridge
Above the black board
Underneath the plant pot
Go towards the water tower
Walk along the path
By the river
On top of the rock
Under the TV
Underneath the motorbike seat
Among the flowers
Down the plug hole
Walk around the garden
Stand on the chair
Under the bunk beds
Up the ladder
At the end of the wall
Turn right and walk to the water tower
Upon the dance floor
Inside the desk draw
Look out of the window
Go outside the house
Go inside the house
The other side of the wall
Beside the microwave
Behind the small tree
In front of the lamp post

Spelling Race

This is one of my most popular esl teaching activities of all time!

All of the students love to compete against one another to see who the best is... and this game always awards the best! This ESL teaching game is basically just a spelling race.

When I say, "Spelling Race," I mean two students will come up to the board; the teacher will say a word and the two students will try to write the word. Which ever student writes the word correctly first wins.

Write every students name on the board like so:

1. Bill
2. Sally
3. Tom
4. Jerry
5. Susan
6. Jim
7. Candy
8. Jack
9. Toby
12.Mary Jo

Call up the first two students. Say a word for them to write. Which ever student loses the spelling race ~ erase their name

Round 1

1. Bill
2. X
3. Tom
4. X
5. X
6. Jim
7. Candy
8. X
9. X
12.Mary Jo

(The X means that they are out of the game.)
In round 2 the ESL students that won the first round of the spelling race will battle each other in another spelling race.

Round 2

1. Bill
3. X
6. X
7. Candy

Depending on the amount of ESL students that are in your class ~ you may have three students in the finals. For the final round... I usually get the students to write three words. The winner of the spelling race is the student that is student which wins the final round:

Final Round

1. X
7. X
10 Mitch (Mitch is the winner and the best speller in the class!)

Good luck teaching English! Try this game in your class the next time that you are doing spelling; the students will absolutely love it!

Great Speaking Activities
ESL games and activities

Hot Seat - Name Each team
 Break the class into 2 teams or 4 teams etc depending on class size
 Place two chairs next to the board, facing the class and a student from each team.
 Students from each team rotate turns sitting in the chair.
 Write a vocabulary word behind the student that they cannot see.
 Each team has 30 seconds to elicit the word written on the board from their teammate sitting in the hot seat.
 They can only speak English. If they speak their native tongue, erase a point from their score.

Two Truths, One Lie
Demonstrate by writing two truths and one lie about yourself on the board.
 Allow the class to guess what your lie is.
 Once they grasp the concept, give them 5 to 10 minutes to write their own list of two truths and one lie.
 Students take turns presenting their list to the class for participation points.
 The class guesses what the lie is.

Road Trip
Ask the class, “What do we need for a road trip?”
 Each student must say one item to bring along, but every previous item must be said first.
 Student 1: Fruit. Student 2: Fruit and vegetables. Student 3: Fruit, vegetables and a cat. Student 4: Fruit, vegetables, a cat and an umbrella. 5. Fruit, vegetables, cat, umbrella and water. Fruit, vegetables, cat, umbrella, water and towels. Keep going until a student forgets the list.
 This activity is a great time-killer. With a large class, the list can get huge.


Hotel problems
Cut up the flash cards with each sentence from below.
Tell students that they are in a hotel or resort but they have lost their voice.
Students are given a card and have to pretend that they are at a hotel reception desk. They need to mime the things they need, while the class tries to guess what it is. 

There are no towels in my hotel
room. I’m in room 15. 

I’d like a wake up call at 6.30 am tomorrow.

There’s a mouse in my bathroom.

I asked for a double room but this key is for a single room.

All the lights in my bungalow have gone out!

I dropped a bottle of wine in my
hotel room  and I need someone to come and clean it for me.

The A/C doesn’t work in my room and it’s very hot! 

I asked by email to book a bungalow with a sea view but we do not have one.

I’d like a taxi for nine o’clock
tomorrow morning. 

I want to know what time breakfast
is served in this hotel.

I ordered a drink and a sandwich
from the restaurant 30 minutes ago and it still hasn’t arrived. 

I’d like to know the name of a good restaurant near the resort.

I went to the room you told me too,
but the key doesn’t fit the lock.
I’ve locked myself out of my hotel room.

The man in the room next to
mine has his TV on very loudly and
I want to go to sleep. 

There are a load of ants in my room, do you have any ant powder?

There’s a horrible smell
coming from under the bed in
my room. 

There’s no remote control for the
TV in my hotel room.

About ESL Games

Many would agree that learning any second language is not an easy task. English is deemed one of the hardest languages to learn, that is why ESL games can open a doorway for the ESL students to gain a greater understanding of the English language. English learning games can be found on the internet and are deemed quite useful to those seeking the learn English as a second language.

Why Game Playing Can Aid Language Retention

Recently games have been discovered to be an enriching and effective tool to teach many subjects to students with greater effectiveness that lectures and reading alone. For this reason, school administrators have been progressively inserting game playing into teaching curriculum.

Games aid students learning by providing fun, which helps alleviate stress. When the mind is less stressed, then the student is better able to concentrate and grasp difficult subject. Retention levels have also been shown to markedly increase during game play.

If your ESL student is an adult, a child, a beginner, intermediate, or even advanced, game play can speed up the learning process and create improved results when learning English. A few games that can be played include flash card games, match up games, adapted board games, or any other game that can be adapted to language learning.

Can Games Be Used In the Classroom Setting?

Games can and should be incorporated into regular lesson plans. While game playing can be fun during study or tutor time, when infused in the classroom, games can improve the overall retention and concentration levels during class time. The advantage is that students can relax, put away books, and get ready for some fun that is both challenging and rewarding. Game playing that is adapted to teaching a subject such as a language can be utilized both inside and outside the classroom with amazing results.

Reasons to Game Play:

The fun factor: Students retain more when they are having fun. Game playing can induce relaxation, which improves retention all by itself, add the fun factor and you get an instant boost.

Communication: Game playing forces communication in a non-direct and confrontational way. There is no answering by rote or drawing a student out where they feel singled out for questioning. During game play, students will often participate in the lessons quite readily.

Instant Gratification: Games provide an instant sense of accomplishment. Every time a student is challenged during a game session they must rise to the challenge, this provides a sense of accomplishment and pride in their abilities.

Speeds Up learning: More material can be covered than in traditional lecture, or lesson plans. Students learn at a higher rate and the overall speed of the subject progresses much faster.

Easy to Do: Playing games in a classroom or during a lesson actually has positive results and student's sense of order can be maintained.

Now all you need to do to incorporate ESL games into your classroom or lesson plans is to get started searching for fun and adaptable games that will fit into your subject matter and with the learning level of your students.

Website Builder