Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

EFL & ESL Games
By:Pamela Ann Ludwig

Games are an excellent way to take a break from the standard material in ESL (English as a Second Language)/ EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classes. Games make class time more fun and interesting, can function as test review and can strengthen the bonds between students. These games can be used for low- or intermediate-level students to advanced students, and require no extra materials other than what is found in a standard classroom

Two Truths and a Lie
An excellent icebreaker, especially on the first day of class, is the game "Two Truths and One Lie," from Dave's ESL Cafe Idea Cookbook (see Resources). The game helps students get to know one another and the teacher to assess language levels. Each student writes three statements about themselves. The statements could be about their family, interests and hobbies, past experiences, job or an interesting place they have been. Two of the statements are true and one is a lie. The class then asks questions about the statements and the student answers all as if they were true. Time the interviews, and after the interview time is over take a vote on which statement the class thinks is a lie. You can keep score of how many lies each student correctly guessed and give out a prize in the end.

Back to the Board
Back to the Board can be used to review vocabulary and work on spontaneous communication in English. The teacher puts a word on the board and one student sits with her back facing the board, unable to see the word. Another student sits facing the student. The student reading the board must describe the word or phrase without using any part of that word or phrase. To make this competitive, break the students into two groups. Time how long it takes each student to guess the words, and the group that has the shorter time is the winner.

Hangman is a simple game but can be very useful for learning or reviewing the alphabet. Even advanced speakers sometimes need help with alphabet pronunciation, especially if their first language uses the Latin alphabet but has different names for the letters. With hangman you can also put students in groups to compete against one another. Use hangman before a test to review vocabulary.

No Hands
This one is especially useful for those in Mediterranean or Latin American countries who often use their hands when they speak. In face-to-face convervation, hand gestures and facial expressions help in communication, but cannot be used over the phone. This is a fun way to develop listening and communication skills in a group. Have groups of two students role-play in the front of the class. Provide a certain situation, such as asking for directions, a job interview, or a blind date. The only rule of the game is neither person can use hand gestures. The first one to "talk with their hands" loses.

Go to another board -