Lessons & Classroom Games for Teachers

What Games Can I Use in an English Lesson?
By:Chris Soames

Excellent question! Games are a fantastic addition to any TEFL lesson and inject a good dose of fun into the classroom. There are many reasons why you should include games in your lessons, and for a variety of these,but the main reason is that, if used well, they can enhance learning using a technique popularly known as accelerated learning.

There are a number of websites chock full of good ideas, and a plethora of books you can buy on the subject of TEFL games. A word of caution before you start plundering them; games are a great teaching aid, but not all games are useful!

Many games look impressive, but lack substance; students either spend too much time reading out cards that the teacher had written or simply throwing dice and moving counters. The amount of time spent preparing the game doesn't always equal the progress that the students made in learning the English language.

Remember, games are only useful if they practise using English in a constructive way and your students are actively listening to, recalling, or speaking the target language. With this in mind, we've picked a selection of games which require little preparation on the part of the teacher, but are intensive speaking or listening games that have been firm favourites with students over the years.

Catch! (8-12 pupils)

A ball encourages spontaneity and is a useful tool for turning almost any grammatical structure into a game. This game is best played with a group of about 8-12 pupils, and aims to speed up the response of the student, encouraging fluency in spoken English. The teacher can stand in the centre or join the students within the circle.

T: What are you doing tomorrow? (Teacher throws the ball to random student)

St: I'm going to work (throws ball back to teacher)

If the student hesitates for more than 5 seconds, he must then take the place of the teacher. Throwing a ball creates energy in the classroom, helps build confidence and increase fluency in a fun environment.

Team Games

Everyone loves competitive games. This type of game can involve running and writing the answer on the board, throwing balls, or the quieter tabletop version of simply holding up the correct answer. Don't forget: adults can be just as competitive as children, so introduce these games to all age ranges. They take little preparation and can be used as a starter or a main activity in your lesson. This version tests listening skills and comprehension of directions, but can equally be used for numbers, items of clothing, or even animals.

1. Go over directions (turn right, turn left, go round the corner, take the second right etc...)

2. Split class into 2 or 3 teams, line each team up in front of board

3. Shout out a direction; the first student from each team must then run to the board and draw the corresponding diagram. The first person to draw the correct diagram wins a point.

If you prefer, you can have the diagrams pre-prepared so the student selects the correct diagram and pins it to the board, but we find that students gain more from the process of drawing out the direction.


Quizzes are always popular and are great for testing the what/ where/when questions. Ask students to write their own questions in teams, or form questions using a simple text. A firm favourite with teachers and students, quizzes can be invaluable for practising superlatives (biggest/longest/widest) and can also be modelled on popular TV shows.

I went shopping and bought...(memory games)

These games encourage pupils to recall specific vocabulary and can be adapted to practise any grammar structure. It also makes repetition seem much less boring. Have some realia or visual prompts on hand to remind students of vocabulary, so they don't get stuck and lose confidence. And it doesn't have to be shopping. Here's a different example:

T: What are you doing tomorrow? (Teacher throws the ball to random student)

In the summer, I went on holiday to Greece

In summer, I went on holiday to Greece, and Russia


This game requires little explanation. Play bingo with numbers, or for a more creative approach, use flashcards and vocabulary. The grids can be prepared easily beforehand and given out at the beginning of the lesson.

Who am I? (10-15 mins)

This is a fantastic ice-breaker and a good game for both children and adults. For this game you'll need:


Sticky tape (just in case)


1. Hand out a post-it to each of the students.

2. Tell your students to write the name of someone famous that everyone in the class knows on their post-it; this person can be dead or alive. It is important to keep the name on the post-it secret!

3. Stick the post-it onto the back of the person sitting next to you (this is where sticky tape can be handy!)

Split the class into pairs; each person must find out who they are by asking questions. Here are some examples:

1. Am I dead or alive?

2. Am I male or female?

3. Where do I live?

4. What do I do?

The only question your students are not allowed to ask is, of course, 'what is my name?'! Once each person from the pair has found out their name, they can swap post-its with another person. A simpler version of this game is adaptable for younger children, using animals in the place of famous people.

Games for Children

What's the time Mr. Wolf?

Remember this game? A great game for outside or a spacious open plan classroom, and learning the times. You don't have to stick to the "o'clocks", you can encourage the wolf to answer half past, or quarter past the hour.

Children: What's the time Mr. Wolf?

Wolf: It's 10 o'clock

Children: What's the time Mr. Wolf?

Wolf: It's 11 o' clock etc...

This continues until the wolf answers 'dinner time', at which point the wolf runs and catches one of the children, who then becomes the new wolf.


Twister? Yes, Twister. This is a great game for learning body parts, colours, right and left, giving instructions, and having a giggle at the same time! A good activity to set a small group, and children love the silly aspect of this game. The child who falls down must then take the place of the person who twirls the arrow.

Silly (Simple) Simon says...

Remember this game? Better to use the more politically correct 'silly' now, and it's also a more useful word to learn in this context. The class should only follow the directions of the leader if he begins the instruction 'Silly Simon says...' If the leader misses out the word 'silly', the class should do nothing. Don't just limit it to body parts, use objects in the room such as chairs, walls, curtains, and the floor. This game can be as active or as sedentary as you choose!

Chris Soames - Online TEFL courses with over 20,000 course graduates each year, international accreditation and certification recognised by schools worldwide.

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