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Five Fun and Adaptable Games for ESL Classes

Five Fun and Adaptable Games for ESL Classes | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Today's pedagogical approaches put considerable emphasis upon the importance of providing students with the opportunity to have a joyful educational experience through adding enough and well-located variety to the lessons. One practical way to do so is designing and adding aimful games to your plan in order to inject positive energy into your lessons, improve the mood of your class and make your lessons stick in students' long-term memory.

Since not only young learners but also grownups enjoy playing fun games while taking English lessons, teachers, therefore, are always trying to come up with games that serve this purpose. So here are some ESL game ideas that you can adapt to your aim and objectives and play in your classes.

Pizza game

You need dice and some magnets or colored markers for this game. Draw a big circle on the board and divide it into as many pieces as you want. The first piece is the start and what you put in each piece of your pizza depends on the target language of the lesson. You might want to use letters for young learners who can try coming up with words starting with them and practice spelling those words if they are able to, verbs to make a sentence in different tenses, numbers, colors, etc. Divide the class into two or three groups and allocate a magnet or marker to each one.

The dice are rolled by one student from each group. When a group has a six, they can get started, and the reward will be another chance for rolling the dice. If they get a four, for instance, count from the start and go to the fourth piece, which contains the verb send, say. The student who got the four is supposed to make a sentence with the verb send in the past negative or positive form, for example. If he/she manages to come up with a correct sentence, the group needs to mark the fourth piece with their magnet or marker so they can continue from this spot. If the other groups happen to go to the same piece, the group that already was there is beaten and has to begin from the start piece again.

You can make the beaten group get a six before starting again if you're mean enough. It's your game and your rules, so adapt it with your aim. The first group that goes around the pizza and reaches the start piece wins the game.

Hot seat

There are various ways to play a hot seat game. One way is to put a chair in front of the board facing the class and ask a student to sit on it. Stick a card on his/her forehead and ask the groups to explain and help them guess the content of the card. You might want to board the target language, and students can pantomime it if it is hard to be explained.

The student who is sitting on the chair can have the card to explain or pantomime, or answer the questions his/her group asks and help them guess the target language.

You can also add more fun to the game by choosing some taboo words and applying them to your cards. Students aren't supposed to use these taboo words when they are trying to explain the content of the card to their group mates. For example, if your target vocabulary item is education, you can choose school, teacher, and student as your taboo words, or if it's the idiom "Once bitten, twice shy," taboo words can be snake, scared, and again.

Hot potato

You need a ball and some music for this game. Students are supposed to make a circle and pass the ball while the music is played. They pause when the music is stopped, and the student with the ball in hand is punished by making sentences about what you taught in the last session, if it's a warm_up activity or something from this session's content that needs to be practiced more.

This is also an adaptable game, so instead of sentence making, you might want to go on with a punishment of your choice, and instead of passing the ball, students can throw the ball to each other.

Spelling games

If your students need to practice spelling, help them make a set of handmade alphabet cards and play this game. Pair students up and say a word out loud or use your flashcards and show the picture. Each pair is supposed to use their alphabet cards and spell the word on the floor. Score the fastest pair or group.

The classroom floor can be used for numerous purposes but if you're a clean freak or you don't want to use the floor for any reasons, provide some magnets so students can magnet their cards to the board, which is divided into two or three parts based on the number of pairs or groups.

Whisper chain

Ask your students to make two lines facing the board. Whisper a word or a sentence in the last person's ear in the line. On the count of three, they are supposed to whisper it in the next student's ear until it goes to the first student in the line. He/she is supposed to say it out loud or write it on the board, and you have no idea how different it sometimes gets from what you whispered in the first person's ear. If it is not recalled correctly, the first student in the line moves to the end and is replaced by the next student. The game is finished when the first player is back to the front of the line, which means his/her group has lost the game. Sometimes a no-shouting rule needs to be set in order to stop students from trying to yell and make the target language heard by the first student in their line.

You can also write down the first word of a sentence or the first sentence of a story on a piece of paper, and your students simply add another word or sentence and pass it to the person next to them in their line. The outcome should be a meaningful sentence or story.

Your creative inner child is able to do magical things and help you come up with various fun activities and games in order to add variety to your lessons. Finally, don't forget to provide a non-linguistic outcome, which can be the praise or the reward you give to the winners of each game, because it plays a crucial role in developing a sense of motivation and active participation among your students.

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