These are TEFL games that I used nearly every week and in my tutoring lessons, too! They require few materials, are easily adaptable, and most importantly of all, encourage students to speak English!
Materials needed: Stack of flashcards.
Write down activities on different cards, such as Ride a Bike, Jump on a Trampoline, Swim in the Ocean, Take the Bus, etc. Split the group into two teams. Each team acts out their action on a card while the other team guesses.
Materials needed: Whiteboard, two whiteboard markers.
Divide the board in half and split the group into two teams. Have each team form a single-file line at the back of the classroom. One member of the team has to run up to the board and write down either the first verb conjugation (swim, swam, swum; or I have thought, he has thought, etc.) or a word in a category (color, number, month, animal, etc.) Whichever team has finished first, where all the members of the team have run up to the board and spelled it correctly, then that team wins!
Materials needed: 6 sheets of paper, sticky tack.
Write six different categories on the sheets of paper. They can be anything from Verb, Adjective, Noun, etc. to Animal, Shape, Color, Month, etc. Have students tack the pieces of paper to different places around the classroom using the sticky tack. Then have students congregate in the middle of the classroom; on the count of three, yell out a word belonging to one of the categories, and whoever reaches the correct category paper first wins a point.
Write It First
Materials needed: Whiteboard, two whiteboard markers.
Divide the whiteboard in half and split the group into two teams. Give each team clues to a word that you’re thinking of, for example:
“I’m thinking of an animal with eight legs that lives in the ocean.”
The team has to write, O C T O P U S – vertically on the board.
Then it’s a race to see who can fill in each of the letters with a word in English. Words cannot be repeated!
Listen & Match
There are many variations that you can do with this game. One of my favorites has to do with countries.
Materials needed: Set of flashcards, set of ‘clues’.
Make a number of cards with different countries and lay them out on the table. Make sure the lettering is big enough that everyone can see them if standing over the table. Prepare a set of ‘clues’ matching to each country. Whoever points to the correct country first wins a point.
Variation 1: Breakfasts Around the World
Variation 2: Festivals Around the World
Variation 3: Important People From Around the World
The possibilities for this one are endless, and they are great way to start a discussion!
Materials needed: Set of flashcards, whiteboard, two whiteboard markers.
Split the group into two teams. Give one member a sentence or phrase to draw. The other team members have 10 seconds to guess what it is, then it ‘bounces’ to the other team.
One way to encourage discussion is to have the teams come up with the sentence or phrase for the member of the other team to draw. The other team cannot guess when the 10 seconds are up, but they can help draw the sentence or phrase.
Materials needed: Two sets of flashcards, one with pictures and one with the words matching up to the pictures.
This is a good game for memorizing new vocabulary. Review all the new words before placing all of the cards face-down on the table. Each student takes a turn by turning over two of the cards. If they match, it’s a point for the student, but if they don’t, the student has to turn the cards back over.
Who Is It?
Materials needed: Set of flashcards.
Prepare a set of cards with different famous people (singers, actors, scientists, musicians) or popular TV shows and movies (Action figures, Superheroes, Game Show hosts). Each student takes a turn and flips a card onto his or her forehead. The other students have to help him or her guess what card he or she has.
Materials: Set of flashcards.
As a variation of the popular Taboo game, prepare a set of cards with any kind of words, ranging from verbs to animals, colours, places in the world, etc. The more varied, the better. Each student has 4-5 cards and has to explain what card he or she has. Whoever can guess what is written on the card gets a point!
Throw the Dice
Materials: Set of Dice, whiteboard, two whiteboard markers.
Having a set of dice can come in handy for a lot of games. You can design your board game, or many great ESL board games have already been made.
One of the best games with dice has to do with writing a specific date. This is a good way to get students to practice their English while also working on their math skills.
Divide the whiteboard in half and split the group into two teams.
As the teacher, you are in charge of rolling the dice. For the first variation of the game, roll just three numbers. Explain that the first number is the month of year, and the second and third numbers must be multiplied for the date of the month. Whichever team writes the entire date out in English correctly wins a point.
Example: The numbers rolled are 3 – 4 – 2
The month is March.
The date is: 4 x 2 = 8
The students have to write: Eighth of March. (They cannot write March 8th!)
To make the game harder, roll 4 numbers. Explain that the first two numbers must be ADDED to find the month, and the second two numbers must be MULTIPLIED to find the date.
Example: The numbers rolled are 4 – 5 – 2 – 3
The month is: 4 + 5 = 9 – September
The date is: 2 x 3 = 6 – the sixth
The students have to write Sixth of September.
Top Tip: Spanish students LOVE competition. Everything has to be a competition! They are also SO active. They are constantly running around, playing futbol, and jumping everywhere. I don’t know where they get the energy!
Since they are in the classroom for the majority of the day, your time with them is some of the only time they get to be outside and active while learning. Try to incorporate as much action and movement into your activities as possible, i.e. run to the board and write the correct word! Tag the next person! Shoot for the goal if you get the sentence correct!
If you would like to read more tips from Isabelle check out the following articles: