esl games for adults

ESL Games and Activities for Adult English Learners

esl activities adults

Discover a wide range of ESL games and activities designed for teaching English to adults. Explore our resources to find engaging and effective ways to teach grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and conversation skills.

ESL Warm-up Activities

Start your classes with a variety of warm-up activities, including:

  • No preparation warm-up activities
  • The A to Z game
  • A collaborative crossword

ESL Games for Adults

Find engaging and effective games for teaching adult learners:

  • Grammar Games and Activities (e.g., fortune telling ,  comparative adjectives , stand up if you’ve ever… , find someone who , alibi )
  • Vocabulary Games and Activities (e.g., Jeopardy, the A to Z game ,  the recipe game , number bingo , Kim’s game , the categories game , taboo )
  • Pronunciation Games and Activities (e.g., word match for minimal pairs,  pit pat putt for vowel sounds, word mazes  for syllable stress)

Conversation Questions and Speaking Activities

Enhance your students’ speaking skills with conversation questions and speaking activities, such as:

  • printable conversation topic cards based on 50+ ESL topics
  • ESL questionnaires , surveys & interviews
  • Find someone who activities

Teaching Online (

Visit our sister site for online ESL teaching resources, including:

  • Themed conversation questions
  • Random question generator
  • Scrambled sentence maker
  • Online board-game creator
  • Online scatter sheet maker
  • Hidden picture quizzes
  • What’s that sound quiz
  • What happens next?
  • Fortune-telling runes


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  • 19 of The Best ESL Games for Adults
  • Teaching English
  • James Prior
  • No Comments
  • Updated February 1, 2024

ESL games for adults

What if I told you that you should play beer pong with your English students? Sounds crazy, right? Many teachers of adult language learners forget that they can have fun with their EFL & ESL students. In fact, adult learners love to play games inside the classroom just as much as children do! With that in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best ESL games for adults. Read on to find out how to bring the fun into your classroom!

Table of Contents

Why you should embrace ESL games for adults

As an EFL or ESL teacher , you can turn beloved adult games, like beer pong, into classroom-friendly games that help adult learners memorize vocabulary and practice their language skills. Games and activities are a really powerful tool in language acquisition.

Incorporating games and related ESL activities into your teaching with adult learners can transform your classroom. Adults are collaborative learners and like to problem solve. In this sense, they should not be treated that differently from young ESL learners.

“The purpose of adult education is to help them to learn, not to teach them all you know and thus stop them from learning” – Carl Rogers

Even though you are teaching English to adults, it is important to remember that everyone loves to have fun. Moreover, everyone deserves an engaging learning plan, and being able to deliver one will make you a better English teacher.

Many adult ESL students have other things going on in their lives. It can therefore be challenging for a teacher to maintain motivation and concentration during their lessons if they are not using effective strategies and tools. One way to keep students interested is through ESL games and activities.

ESL games for adults are a great way to introduce fun into the classroom and boost student confidence.

Whether you are teaching adults ESL for business purposes , conversation purposes, or general language skill improvement, games can be tailored to your teaching needs. They can be especially useful for adult ESL learners who suffer from a lack of confidence, as they are ideal to help get them speaking and remind them that learning can be fun!

So, if you’re ready to liven up your classroom, we’ve crafted a list of effective, fun ESL games for adults to include in your lessons.

19 Great ESL Games for Adults

Beer pong

Ah, one of our favorite ESL games… Before you say anything, we’re not suggesting that your students drink beer in class!

While the title is a little misleading, it functions exactly like the original version. Replace the beer with a vocabulary challenge and you’re playing the classic, beloved adult game! So, how does it work?

Students work in pairs to create vocabulary words, questions, or phrases. They then write down their ideas on slips of paper. They will need a slip of paper for each cup. These slips of paper are then placed into cups in a triangle formation. The game typically has 10 cups, but this number can vary based on how long you want the game to last.

Two sets of pairs then play against each other and try to successfully land ping pong balls into the cups. When a ball lands in the cup, the thrower has to engage in the speaking practice listed in the cup. Once the thrower has completed the speaking practice, the cup is then removed. Whichever team gets all of the cups out first, wins the game!

Examples of effective themes: Asking personal questions, phrases said at a restaurant, food vocabulary, and many more creative prompts.

Why to use it?

Making familiar games classroom friendly is a great strategy and will make your adult ESL students much more excited to play.

The game itself is very adaptable and can be changed to meet the needs of whatever specific learning target you have in mind. It also just happens to be one of the most fun ESL games and activities for adults!

Furthermore, it’s a great opportunity for conversation practice and speaking opportunities since it is low-stakes and one of the more relaxed games on this list. There is no doubt that it will capture the attention of your class, regardless of their age.

Deserted Island

One student stands in front of the class, with his or her back facing the whiteboard. Another student chooses an object that they would want to have if they were on a deserted island. They write this word on the whiteboard for the rest of the class to see. The rest of the class then have to help the student in front of the class guess what the word on the board is, without saying the word itself.

In this game, students have to describe the word on the board. Gestures are not allowed.

For more advanced classes, encourage students to pick an object that isn’t the simplest answer (ex: firewood, telephone, blanket). However, whilst they can be creative, the vocabulary should stick to the topic. That way those guessing are not overwhelmed.

Why use it?

This is a game that plays similarly to charades or the popular game Head’s Up . It’s a great game because, unlike charades, there is a limited amount of vocabulary that is applicable to the topic.

When introducing this game to your class, it will be best to initially choose one of your more confident learners to stand as the guesser. The other students can then work together as a team to achieve a goal. This will allow your shy students to ease into the game and feel more comfortable and confident to make mistakes while guessing.

 Adult learners will love this game because it is challenging, but not overwhelming.

Speed Talking

Display a topic on the board. You can choose topics that are relevant to your lesson or you could just choose topics that are fun and will break the ice. The topics can be low-level questions or creative, vague topics for more advanced students.

Once you have done this, pair up your students and set a timer for one minute for them to discuss this topic.

After a minute of talking about the chosen topic, display a new topic. The students will have one minute to discuss this topic. Display 3-5 topics and you have spent the first five minutes of your class working on speaking skills. Your class will feel energized and ready to dive into the lesson! This is great for language learning and helps students recall what they have learned previously.

Here are some examples of good topics: “What are your plans for the weekend?”, “What is your favorite food to cook?”, and “What is the best movie of all time?”.

Choosing topics that will interest your students based on what you know about them makes this game much more effective.

This is a quick game that is perfect for a warm-up for a lesson! It will also test how well you know your class.

Furthermore, one of the best strategies to incorporate into any ESL class is to get your students involved in planning their own learning. This particular ESL game is a great example of how to do just that and make them feel rewarded for it.

Each week you can have students write topics that they would like to discuss. This way they’ll be excited about the topics and feel like they have a voice inside the classroom.

For this game, you will simply provide a category topic to students and they have to make a list of vocabulary words that they associate with the category. The categories can range from simple topics: colors, animals, or foods to more complex topics: activities, nouns, or vocabulary terms from a previous lesson.

Each word written down counts as a point. Students can either work individually or in teams. The individual or team with the most points wins!

Categories is a great vocabulary game to use for vocabulary review or prep for an upcoming lesson. Similar to the Speed Talking game described above, you can have students create the categories themselves. You can also have a vote on whether or not they would like to choose the categories or have you choose for them. Having students’ voices involved in any aspect of their learning is important, even if they decide to give the control to you.

This will probably be one of the easiest games for you to introduce to the class as it doesn’t put much pressure on any particular student.

Plus, if your students enjoy this game you can introduce them to other word games for English learners that they can plan in their own time!

Dixit is different from the other games suggested on this list as it is an actual board game rather than a game crafted by yourself. For this game, it is best to divide the class into groups of four. In each group, one student draws a card from a deck and has to tell a story based on the image on the card.

The student then randomly places the card back into the deck and the other three students in the group have to look at the deck of cards and choose which card the storyteller based their story on.

Why use it?                                                                                 

This game really is suitable for both lower level students and advanced level students and can be tailored to their needs.

For beginner learners, they can say a word that they associate with the image rather than an entire story. This makes it a lot less intimidating! Students will love being able to work on their speaking skills without the pressure of creating conversation topics.

These first 5 games will surely win your students over and make them more excited to participate in your class. But just in case you need more inspiration, here’s a list of 14 more ESL games that your students will love as well:

Heads Up is an exciting smartphone app that is similar to the classic game of Taboo. It works by displaying words or a phrase on the phone. One student holds a phone to his or her head and the rest of the class has to help the student guess what is displayed on the phone. Easy setup and lots of laughs!

Whisper Challenge

This is a game that will definitely get a lot of laughs. Using a list of vocabulary words provided by you, students will silently mouth the words to their partners or teams. Lip reading can be really challenging, so it is best to choose words that they have already studied previously. Needless to say, it is not the time to be introducing new words!

Tip: Play music to mask the words even more.

Never Have I Ever

This game is perfect as an ice-breaker as students will get to know each other better. Get them to place five fingers up and then go around in a circle sharing experiences (make sure to keep it classroom-friendly). If they have had the experience before, then they put a finger down. The last one left with a finger up is the winner!

Taboo is great for advanced learners. Similar to Head’s Up and Charades, the students have to use clues to help a designated student guess the vocabulary word. However, in this game, they have a list of words that they are not able to say during their clue giving process!

This activity is a challenging, but fun way to quiz students on their vocabulary. Break students into teams, write a word on the board, and have one student from each team guess the word. Here’s the catch: team members are only allowed to use one-word clues to help their teammates guess the vocabulary word!

This is an adult card game (also known as Ring of Fire) that can be adapted for your classroom. You will definitely want to print a list of the instructions for students to keep on them as they play. Simply make each card represent an activity (example: Queen = the student has to ask another student a question). Then have students sit down around a table and draw cards, performing each action or task as it appears.

You can change the activities based on the English level of your class, so adapt it as you see fit.

Call My Bluff

Call My Bluff is a little trickier than some of the others on this list, but the challenge is great for more advanced students. Essentially, they have to guess the correct definition of a word that they have not learned in class before. You can either provide them with the definitions or have the teams do their research and write the definitions. Either way, this is a great way to get their complex thinking skills going!

Similar to Scrabble , students draw nine letters at random. Here is where the creativity kicks in; they then have to try to make a word using those nine random letters. You can separate the letters into consonants and vowels to ensure they grab enough of each to actually form a word. Use an online timer and have them race against the clock to add to the excitement!

This is great for practicing vocabulary and it’s okay for students to engage in discussion for this one. It should be a creative and challenging game and is ideal for intermediate students and upwards.

Reverse Charades

Reverse Charades is perfect for lower level learners or advanced learners who are in need of a speaking break! In this game, students have to guess a word based on the actions and gestures of their team members. This is a great way for them to learn and practice verbs (think: running, swimming, hiking).

Stop is ideal for a quick warm-up. It has the same format as Categories, but instead of thinking of as many words as possible for each category, students just try to think of one word per category. Whoever completes all of the categories first is the winner!

Box of Lies

Your students will love this game because it permits them to lie without consequences! Pair them up and provide one of them with an image. That student then has to write a description based on the image they see. They then share their description with their partner. The partner has to guess if they lied in their description or told the truth.

This is the last of the category games on this list, but it’s a good one. Students have 60 seconds to write down as many words as possible for the given category. Here’s the catch: they will only receive a point for unique words (words that their classmates haven’t also used). You can make this game easier or harder based on the level of your students, but the quickness of it is sure to keep them excited and on their toes!

Kahoot is an online quiz platform that can be used to quiz students on vocabulary, and grammar, or just provide fun questions for a nice break! You can either create your own quizzes or use quizzes that have been created by other teachers. The quicker the students answer, the more points they get, so this game will bring out their competitiveness!

Check out Kahoot .

We’re finishing this list with a fan favorite. The classic television quiz game has made its way onto educational sites. You can create your own Jeopardy board in class and ask your students questions related to the topics you are currently learning. Separate them into teams and have them try to earn the most amount of points. Give them one minute to answer a question correctly!

When Should You Use ESL Games in the Classroom?

When teaching English, it’s often best to incorporate games into your classroom in a variety of ways rather than in a routine, expected way. After all, they are meant to be an exciting relief from studying. It’s therefore important that they don’t become monotonous or an activity that your adult ESL students dread.

To keep things fresh, one day a game can work as a warm-up. Then, during the next lesson, you can incorporate it as a cool-down activity. Whether you incorporate games into a warm-up or use them as a reward is down to you!

If you need extra motivation for your students to participate in the games, you can even consider setting up a reward system for the winners.

Summary (Plus a Bonus Game!)

Teaching ESL to adults is not without its challenges. However, if you embrace that lessons with adults can and should be enjoyable, then your students will follow your lead and enjoy these fun ESL games.

So, if you are struggling with creating engaging lessons for your adult students, or just want to add a touch of fun to your classroom, then it might be time to consider implementing these ESL games for adults into your classroom.

Bonus game : If you have a bit of time a the end of class, challenge your students to have a go at pronouncing the longest words in English . This can be a great way to close out the lesson with a bit of fun.

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15 Best ESL Games for Adults

Articulate / heads up, reverse charades, call my bluff, whisper challenge, box of lies, scattergories, never have i ever.

Including games in an English class with adult learners can be a difficult one. Although some students are happy to play at any time, many either don’t want to make a fool of themselves in front of others, or in their view waste class time. We as teachers are sensitive to that, so it’s very tempting to just play it safe and stick to more formal language exercises.

The problem with that is you’re missing out on an extremely valuable learning tool. Not only are English games a fantastic way to review recently learned topics, they’re the perfect warm-up activity, a great refresher after a period of more intense work, and even a reward once your students get to know and love them!

The trick is learning how to employ them. While in a kids class almost any game will go down well at any point, ESL games for adults should be carefully planned, related to current class work, and have a clear language goal in mind. Not all games are created equal either – we have to make sure we choose the right ones for our audience and classroom set-up.

To help you do just that, we’ve produced this list of the best ESL games for adults. They’re fun and engaging, but are chosen to match the needs and sensibilities of older students. We’ve included some helpful tips on their implementation, but for full instructions, just click on the title of a game below (instructions open in a new tab) .

Guessing ESL Games for Adults

In these games students describe words to their teammates against the clock. It might sound simple, but it’s great fun, and a really effective way to review vocabulary. Why not try playing as a warm-up activity, either to see if students remember what was learned in the last session, or to refresh knowledge relevant to today’s class?

While in Articulate students come to the front and describe for their team, in Heads Up the team describes for one student who can’t see the words (‘reverse Articulate’). This can suit students who aren’t comfortable describing alone in front of the class. Normally each word guessed correctly is worth one point for the team, but you could also play non-competitively if you think your students would prefer it.

You may well have seen the ‘Heads Up!’ app or the related segments on the TV show ‘Ellen’ – check out the clip below for a (clearly very excited) Harrison Ford playing. Just be aware that in many of these instances players use gestures as well, which should be outlawed in this classroom game (for an gestures-based guessing game see Reverse Charades below). The Heads Up! app itself is fun for advanced students, but often comes up with obscure words – that’s why we’ve created our interactive Articulate game , especially designed for English classes.

Reverse Charades is a guessing game in which players give clues with actions and gestures. It’s a great alternative for lower-level students, who are not yet confident/skilled enough to produce descriptions. The focus here is simply on recognition and understanding of a vocabulary word, and it’s an exercise you can include during the main class to cement knowledge.

Many of us will have played Charades as a party game, but the ESL class version is slightly simplified. Instead of acting out different syllables, students just make the action that corresponds to the word. As such the game lends itself to practising particular types of vocabulary, e.g. sports and hobbies, emotions and feelings, health problems etc. Our interactive Charades game has a variety of suitable pre-made categories.

Why ‘Reverse Charades’ here and not Charades? In Charades one student stands up and acts in front of the class, which might be fine with kids, but you don’t find too many adult learners who are eager to do that! In ESL games for adults you want to reduce the embarrassment factor as much as possible, and in Reverse Charades this is achieved by getting the whole class to act together for one or two students guessing.

If Reverse Charades is a good guessing game for beginners, what about when Articulate or Heads Up gets too easy for more advanced students? Make things more complicated by adding words that students can’t use in their descriptions! This is a great extension once students are comfortable with this type of game, and a really fun warm-up activity. Because they’re forced to use synonyms instead of the obvious words, it helps practise a wider set of vocabulary.

Taboo is most commonly played like Articulate, with one student describing for their team, as it makes it easier to spot the use of outlawed words. One common issue is the time it takes to prepare suitable those ‘taboo’ words for each vocabulary word – but luckily we’ve created an interactive Taboo game which automatically presents them alongside the main vocabulary word, for a variety of different categories.

TV Show-Based ESL Games for Adults

TV game shows are a great source of ideas for ESL games for adults, and one of the easiest to implement is the classic British programme Countdown. Players take turns selecting a consonant or a vowel to produce nine random letters, and from these letters they have to make the longest word they can. It can be a bit of a challenge, so it’s best played with higher levels, but students often get really into it, and it’s an ideal game for more reserved students.

Countdown works particularly well as a warm-up activity for a class in which there’s likely to be a few latecomers. Not that you want to encourage this, but because students work individually and it consists of multiple short rounds, students can join in as they arrive with minimum disruption. Plus the students who arrived on time are rewarded in their score as they’ve played more rounds!

The easiest way to play this game is with our interactive Countdown game . Unlike other online tools this gives you the option to set the time allowed to one minute instead of thirty seconds (as in the TV game show), the latter being too difficult for all but the most advanced students.

Another popular warmer (again for intermediate and advanced students) is based on the TV game show ‘Call My Bluff’, in which students have to guess the correct definition of an obscure word from three possible options. Not only is it a fun competitive activity, the way in which it gets students thinking about language and related words is ideal for the start of a class. You can also use it to practise modal verbs of possibility (e.g. That might be true… ).

There are two options for implementation. For a quick warm-up activity, pre-prepared definitions work best, and our interactive Call My Bluff game is ready to use for this purpose. Present ten words as a quiz, with teams scoring a point for each correct guess. If you have more time however, you could ask the teams to prepare words and definitions themselves first. They could even include example sentences for each option.

Many of the above games are well-suited to vocabulary practice, but what about grammar? The great thing about Jeopardy is you can use it with almost any language topic, and its adaptability makes it the ideal choice for a review class. Simply choose five topics your class has studied recently, and write five questions related to each of them.

To be clear, we’re just borrowing the scoring system from the Jeopardy, not the gameplay method of giving questions as answers as well! Each question in a topic category is worth a different number of points; teams choose a category and points value which reveals their question, and are awarded that number of points if their answer is correct.

We’re currently working on a great interactive Jeopardy game with pre-made categories, but for now JeopardyLabs is a great tool for creating your own games if you have a projector. If not don’t worry though – just prepare the questions ready to read out, and draw the points grid on the board in class.

ESL Games for Adults from Jimmy Fallon

One TV show that stands above the rest when it comes to ESL games for adults is The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Many of the segments they use are great fun to play in class, and work particularly well as warm-up activities. Perhaps the most popular is Password, a game in which students guess vocabulary words from single-word clues.

This game is played with two or three teams, and one student from each team sitting at the front facing away from the board. Write or project a word on the board – our interactive Password game has suitable pre-prepared words you can use. The teams then take turns giving a one word clue (for example for dolphin, “animal” or water”), followed by a guess, until a guess is correct. Be aware that you don’t need to choose difficult words, at least until your students get the hang of things!

Another enjoyable segment you can use as a vocabulary-based warmer is ‘The Whisper Challenge’. In this game students silently mouth words or phrases to their teammate(s). Normally it’s best to limit possible words to a given vocabulary category to make guessing easier. Our interactive Whisper Challenge game allows you to do this, and even plays background music to mask any whispered sounds. There’s also the option to choose idioms or random sentences for more advanced/experienced students.

It might just seem like a bit of fun, but the game actually practises an important skill. Lip-reading is a significant element of interpreting speech, especially in noisy environments. This is demonstrated by the McGurk Effect , a concept you could introduce your students to if you think they’d be interested or it would motivate them. The student mouthing the word also practises enunciating clearly and correctly.

A slightly different type of game played on Jimmy Fallon is Box Of Lies. Instead of just recognising vocabulary words, this exercise requires students to put together coherent sentence descriptions, great for practising fluency. On the TV show players are shown a strange object in secret, which they can choose to describe truthfully, or invent a different description.

In the classroom we simply replace these strange objects with random pictures, shown to a student at the front on the computer. You could source your own images, but the easiest way to play is using our Box Of Lies generator . As students are describing a picture, the game also doubles as a way to practise that skill, including the correct use of prepositions. When students have finished their description, their classmates have to guess whether they were describing truthfully, or inventing something completely different.

Category-Based ESL Games for Adults

Vocabulary category games are really popular with any age group, and perfect as a no-prep warmer. They’re a particularly good choice as ESL games for adults because they’re fun without requiring too much movement, or spotlight on individuals. Don’t miss the opportunity to review recently learned or upcoming topics by using them as categories!

Perhaps the most well known of these games is Scattergories. In the original version, players have to complete twelve categories with a single word (all beginning with a predefined letter). However, not only does that require you to think of lots of different categories, it doesn’t provide an extensive test of vocabulary knowledge, and makes the game less reusable. We prefer a variation in which students work in small teams to complete three categories with as many words as they can. The team with the most valid words in a given category wins a point for that round.

On the flip-side, sometimes beginners don’t have enough vocabulary knowledge to think of lots of different words. In that case the game Stop is more suitable, because students race to think of only one word in each category (with six categories this time). It also has the advantage of being shorter if you’re looking for a very quick warmer, and can work with just two or three students too.

As in Scattergories, students draw category columns on a piece of paper. Some good categories to use include  animals , clothes and accessories , sports and hobbies and jobs . You then give them a ‘random’ letter – you may want to select an achievable one for your categories! When a player has written a word in each column they shout “Stop!”, and the round ends. Students then swap papers and score points for each word written.

Our last category game is one that never fails to go down well, Name Ten. In each round students think of ten words in one vocabulary category in one minute, without any specified first letter. The key feature though is an element of the original Scattergories game, in which only unique answers are worth a point. This is great because students have to think of multiple words, but are also rewarded for more obscure vocabulary.

Not only is this game suitable for all levels, it’s less likely to be dominated by stronger students. While they may be able to think of more difficult vocabulary, the time constraint makes that less prevalent, and there is an element of luck in which words other teams choose to write. The game works best with three or four teams, each of which you assign a column on the board for checking answers. The teams take turns reading out each other’s word sets, and as they do so you write them in those columns, or cross off existing duplicates as appropriate.

Party-Style ESL Games for Adults

We all have times when we need a more relaxed, light-hearted activity – as a time-filler after a tough test for example. If you can get your hands on a deck of cards, then Kings Cup (also known as Ring Of Fire) fits the bill perfectly. An adapted drinking game, here the alcohol is replaced by English speaking challenges! For a variety of suitable pre-prepared challenges, try our Challenge Generator .

The cards are arranged face down in a circle, and the students sit in a circle around them. They take turns picking a card, with the resulting action determined by the rules below:

AceWaterfallThis student says a category of personal preference (e.g. My favourite pizza topping). In a clockwise directions, the students take turns saying their preference. However, all the students have to hold their breath from the start until they answer!
2YouThis student chooses another person to do a challenge.
3MeThis student does a challenge.
4FloorThe last student to touch the floor has to do a challenge.
5SurviveThis student has to name five luxury items they would want if they were stranded on a desert island.
6 The students take turns saying things they have never done, but they think others have. Each student holds up three fingers to represent three lives. If a student has done an activity, they lose a life. The first student to lose all three lives has to do a challenge.
7HeavenThe last student to raise their hand has to do a challenge.
8MateThis student picks another student to be their ‘mate’. Every time the original student has to do a challenge, their mate has to do it as well.
9RhymeThis student says a word. The students take turns (in a clockwise direction), saying words that rhyme with that word. This is too difficult for beginner/lower intermediate students, so try words that start or end with the same letter instead. This is repeated round the circle until one student can’t say a word, or repeats a previous word. That student has to do a challenge.
10CategoriesThis student thinks of a vocabulary category (e.g. pets, sports, green foods). They say one item from this category, then the student to their left has to say another item. This is repeated round the circle until one student can’t say an item, or repeats a previous item. That student has to do a challenge.
JThumb MasterThis student can put their thumb on the table at any point during the game. When they do that, all the other students must copy them. The last student to copy them has to do a challenge.
QQuestion MasterThis student gets to ask any other student a question, and they have to answer (within reason!).
KKing For The DayThe student describes what they would do if they were in power for a day (using grammar appropriate to their level).

One of the games that’s often included in Kings Cup deserves a special mention as a standalone activity – Never Have I Ever. Chances are you might have played this at a party yourself and enjoyed it, so why not include it in your English class? You can use it as a warmer, and/or to practise talking about experiences in the present perfect simple .

Students all raise a hand with their outstretched four fingers and thumb representing five lives (“like Mario” usually helps get the concept across!). They then take turns saying things that they have never done, but they think their classmates have, e.g. I have never gone skiing . If any student has had this experience, they lose a life, and put a finger down to show that. Optionally, you could also ask those students to give a specific experience in the past simple, e.g. I went to the Alps last year .

The winner is the last player with a life left. Players will have a lot of fun trying to target their classmates by guessing what experiences they have had! Plus it’s a good opportunity to correct common mistakes like “ I have never been in Paris “.

Beer Pong you say? How can that be suitable for the classroom?? Well sure it’s definitely for a more relaxed session, but it’s a fantastic surprise treat for those more active students, and a great way to wake them up on a sleepy afternoon. Like Jeopardy, you can adapt the language topics to anything you’ve been studying recently, so it’s perfect for a review class.

The idea is that instead of players having to drink beer when a ball lands in one of their cups, they have to complete an English challenge (answering a question, naming vocabulary, fill-in-the-blank etc.). You could make these challenges yourself, but that’s a lot of work; a better way is for students to write use their textbooks/notes to write them beforehand, a review technique in itself. In pairs they write 12/20 of them (depending on the number of cups you have) on small pieces of paper, then swap sets with another pair to play.

We hope you’ve found this list of ESL games for adults useful and enjoy playing them in your English classroom! As always, when you do try out something new, note how it goes down with your students to learn what they prefer and inform future choices. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg – for lots more great options, check out our Games section.

Happy Teaching!

Warmer Of The Day

Tags: adjectives , advanced , beginner , intermediate , kids , narrative tenses , past simple , travel , warmer

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15 Fun & Easy ESL Games for Adults

  • January 16, 2024

an ESL teacher teaching with ESL games for adults.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Games are just for kids” when teaching adults? Here’s some great news: You can and should use ESL games for adults! Let’s take a closer look at why using games is effective and explore some appropriate games to incorporate into your adult or Business English lesson plans!

If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to get initial training and qualification with a TEFL certificate . You can explore our online TEFL courses to get started!

Why use ESL games for adults?

1. crosswords/virtual crosswords, 2. the right word, 3. embroidery, 4. seize the keywords, 5. the story is full of blanks, 6. scrabble, 7. scattergories, 8. roleplaying, 9. charades, 10. articulate, 12. first letter, last letter, 13. countdown, 14. 20 questions, 15. never have i ever.

Since our ability to learn is connected to our state of mind, we learn best when we’re in a positive mental state. Games can open a student’s mind to positive learning moments, also known as “best learning moments.” This positive mental state can be reached when students experience curiosity, interest, engagement, or happiness paired with optimism, confidence, and calmness. Feelings of enjoyment help students retain their newly acquired knowledge long term.

When teaching English online to adults , technology-enhanced learning (TEL) is a great and easy way to create these best learning moments. Use smartphones for vocabulary games, virtual crosswords, or other activities, or provide access to language tutoring apps that give students opportunities to practice speaking during free time in a low-stakes environment. Using technology in the classroom is easy and requires little preparation!

  • Pro Tip: If you have a student resistant to engaging in games, then don’t call them games – call them activities, procedures, or tasks. The only difference is the wording, but if this helps your student to keep an open mind about the activity, then adjust your terminology.

Read about ESL pronunciation games for kids, teens, and adults.

Students laugh while playing ESL games for adults during class.

15 simple ESL games for adults

When designing fun ESL activities for adults, always make sure that the games you choose are appropriate and relevant for your students’ age, language level, and specific needs (if they are studying English for a certain profession, for example).

Here are 15 fun ESL games for adults, whether you teach in a physical classroom or online. All of them require little to no materials, little preparation time, and no expenses (except if you buy the Scrabble board game version).

Get additional tips for creating materials for the EFL classroom.

Crosswords are excellent for when you’re teaching vocabulary around a certain topic, profession, or business situation. You can also use them when you’re pre-teaching vocabulary for a later task or assignment.

You can design your own crossword puzzles using definitions from the dictionary, or you can use software that helps you create them. If you’re teaching a group of high-level students, you can also let them design crossword puzzles for each other.

  • Pro Tip: This would make an excellent asynchronous task when you’re teaching online. During the synchronous lesson time, your students can then solve the crosswords. You can also set time limits or let your students compete against each other if you feel they’re up for it.

In this challenging game, your students have to find which words correspond to the given definitions. This isn’t as simple as it sounds because even if the definition reminds them of a familiar word, they may not know the word on your game sheet. This is excellent practice for extending your students’ range of vocabulary and their fluency. You can also give your students clues, depending on their level.

For business professionals, expressing themselves fluently and accurately is an important ability they’ll have to use every day, and this game helps them do just that.

Teaching adults learning English for their profession? Raise your level of professionalism and better prepare your students with a Specialized Certification in Teaching Business English .

In this language game, you’ll prepare ahead of time sets of boxes or envelopes that each contain a letter of the alphabet. Your students must find the word hidden within the scramble of letters. You can choose the length and difficulty of the words, as well as the topic or group of words they belong to. For lower-level students, you can also provide some clues to help them find the correct answer.

The skills your students can gain during this exercise are very useful in business situations, as the game trains them to scan through names, flight information, or other paperwork to find the important details.

  • Pro Tip: If you’re teaching online, you can use presentation software to let the letters pop up one by one with sound effects to give this activity a game show feel.

a student listening as his teacher talks on his laptop monitor.

In this exercise, you’ll create and give your students a 10-line story, and they have to memorize the order in which all of the verbs appear. Then, you collect the stories and give them a worksheet where all of the verbs are listed at random. Your students then have to place them in the correct order, as they found them in the text. If your students are attentive enough and understand the story, it’s easy for them to remember the logical order of the verbs (as verbs imply action).

This is an excellent game to use to teach verbs, verb groups, and tenses since you, as the author of the story, can use all of the words and tenses you wish to teach during that lesson. If you ask your students to retell the story at the end of the lesson, they can also gain valuable public speaking and memorization skills for presentations and speeches.

  • Pro Tip: You can extend speaking practice beyond the classroom with language apps. Recommending or providing access to speaking practice apps like FLOW Speak gives students opportunities to practice conversing in English outside of class. FLOW Speak has over 400 real-world conversation lessons, each a short 2-7 minutes, which students can complete privately on their own time. After analyzing the student’s voice, it provides instant AI-powered feedback so students can practice over and over to master sounding natural and confident. An admin dashboard also allows teachers to track students’ progress, which can be used to inform teaching strategies in the classroom.

Let your students be editors by going through a text in which words are missing. They must then choose the correct word out of a list of words provided. To make it more creative and interesting, you can let your students choose between articles, prose, drama, or poetry. You can copy any appropriate text passage that will benefit your students’ needs, level, and purpose of studying English.

This game provides your students with the skill of identifying the best word in a certain context, which helps with writing emails, reports, letters, or handouts.

You can also learn even more about ESL games for adults in the Games and Activities for the Online Classroom (Adults) Micro-credential .

a woman smiles and gestures at her laptop.

This classic board game is a good activity for reviewing the vocabulary your students already know, and there are many free versions online. Students can use the Scrabble letters to build words according to their language proficiency, and they will most likely try to impress you by remembering specific terms you’ve taught them!

Scrabble is a good game for lower- to intermediate-level students since advanced students often aim to learn new words and expressions during an English lesson instead of reproducing what they already know.

Another classic game, this can be simplified from the original version with twelve categories with a single word all beginning with a predefined letter to three categories. For example, you choose the letter “t” and provide students with the categories of “Wild Animals,” “Hobbies,” and Adjectives.” Give students a set amount of time and they write as many words starting with “t” in each of those categories as they can. For wild animals, they might write “tiger” and “toucan,” for hobbies, they might write “travel” and “tennis,” and for adjectives, they might write “talented” or “teachable.”

This is a great game to build intercultural competence with your adult students who may come from many different backgrounds. Students will find very different answers across categories like “Wild Animals” or other categories you may come up with.

  • Pro Tip: For beginning students, you can simplify this even more with just one word in each category or one category in which students try to think of multiple words.

When it comes to ESL speaking activities for adults , roleplaying games are very important to practice fluency, correct use of vocabulary and grammar, and listening skills all at the same time. Roleplaying is also a great opportunity to teach English for specific purposes since you and your students can create a situation that resembles their professional lives.

Roleplaying can also prepare students for upcoming job interviews. It allows your students ample speaking time, while you observe, take notes, and pay attention to important errors that need reviewing and correcting at the end of the activity.

  • Pro Tip: If you’re teaching online, you can simulate an online business conference with video conference software like Zoom, or you can even ask all of your students to turn off their cameras and only focus on what they hear to practice making phone calls. If you’re teaching asynchronous lessons, you can exchange pretend work emails with your students or practice follow-up emails after a fictitious job interview.

If you’re teaching adults who are learning English to apply for job promotions or to prepare for job transfers overseas, you’ll likely spend a lot of time together, as these types of preparatory courses are often very comprehensive. In these situations, students will often open up to and trust you in a way that’s not always possible during other ESL classes, where your students are often changing.

In group classes, a game of charades can be very relaxing and freeing for your students; they can let go of the pressure and have some fun together while still progressing in their English abilities. However, since charades can get quite silly and require a certain confidence in front of a group, this game is not very suitable for a small group of, let’s say, CEOs and managers who need to show authority towards others.

  • Pro Tip: Charades can be played in the online classroom if you and your students are equipped with enough space and a good place to set up webcams.

an online ESL teacher smiles at his students onscreen.

Similar to Charades, students are working against the clock in this game to identify a hidden word, but rather than acting out the word or idea, the student will articulate words that describe for their team the hidden word. For example, if the hidden word is “breakfast,” students may say things like “eating” and “morning” or certain foods like “cereal” or “eggs.” Play in teams with points awarded for each time a team correctly guesses the word.

Depending on the language levels of your students, you can limit the number of words your players use to describe the hidden word to a single word or 2-3 word phrases. Great for building vocabulary and teaching your adult students to think on their feet, this is a fun game that can easily be played in person or online.

If your students like games like Charades and Articulate, they’ll like the additional challenges added by Taboo. Like the other two games, you’ll come up with a word students will need to guess. You’ll identify a student and show them the word, and they’ll come up with words or phrases to describe the hidden word to provide clues to their teammates so they can guess the hidden word.

The twist with Taboo is you’ll give your student taboo words they can’t use in their descriptions to their teammates. With these limitations, students are made to think of synonyms, providing great practice in this skill. For example, if your hidden word is “winter,” taboo words could include “cold” or “season.” Taboo can also be easily played in the online classroom by simply having students type in their guesses. If you have a fun, comfortable class environment, feel free to bring in a buzzer to buzz students who say a taboo word!

In this game, have your students sit in a circle if you teach in a physical classroom. If you’re teaching online, you need to decide the order of who goes after whom before you start the game.

The first person writes or says a word and the next person has to come up with another word using the last letter or the last few letters of that word. This is a verbal game that doesn’t require any materials or preparation, which makes it a great activity if you need a spontaneous lesson plan.

For example, the first student says “promotion.” The next student takes the last letter “n” and might say “negotiation,” and so on. To make it more difficult, you can also have students use the last two letters, or the last three letters even. This challenges your students to come up with longer words too.

In the two-letter case, “promotion” may become “online,” while in the three-letter case, “promotion” may become “ionization,” which is a very difficult word relevant probably only to professional chemists. Alternatively, you can teach your students what syllables are and let them use the last syllable of the previous word.

  • Pro Tip: If you’re teaching online, this could be a fun asynchronous game to keep up throughout the day, using smartphones and messaging apps. You and your students can toss around words during a certain time of the day, which also motivates them to look up new words, browse their dictionaries, and read articles to find new words.

Need more ESL game ideas teaching adults online? Download the free sample eBook, Teaching Online Games and Activities (TOGAS) – Adults .

In this timed activity, students are given nine randomly generated letters that mix consonants and vowels and must create as many words as they can from those letters. You can use an online random letter generator like Picker Wheel to give the game a game show feel. Just be sure to mix in at least two vowels.

Students then compete to make as many words as they can from the assortment of letters. You can make this more difficult by making it a rule that all letters must be used or less difficult by letting students use any combination of letters for words of any length. Set a timer and students must make their words as fast as they can before time runs out!

Playing 20 Questions with business-related topics can be a great way to practice speaking skills, especially when teaching interrogative forms. One student draws a card with a word on it. This can be a person, a thing, an event, or a situation. You can choose the rules with your students ahead of the lesson, and you can prepare accordingly. Then, the other students have 20 chances to ask questions and find out what word is written on the card. The first student can only answer “yes” or “no.”

For example, the rule is that it can be a thing or a person related to professions. The student chooses the word “lawyer.” The flow of questions could be:

  • “Is it a person?” “Yes.”
  • “Does that person work outside?” “No.”
  • “Does that person work inside a special building?” “Yes.”

You can prepare cards with words ahead of class or let students choose their own words, and if you’re teaching online, you can send the students words via texting or online messaging.

A fun icebreaker activity , this game gets students talking and getting to know one another. Best of all, no preparation is required. Simply play when ready.

To start, have students all raise a hand with all five fingers up. One student will begin by sharing something they’ve never done. The goal is to think of something they think their classmates have done. For example, a student might say, “I have never traveled on an airplane.” Any student who has traveled on an airplane puts a finger down. Another student goes next, stating something they have never done, and again, any students who have done it put another finger down. And so on.

The last student holding up at least one finger wins. This is a fun way to get to know one another and provides great opportunities for you to correct common sentence mistakes. For example: “I have never been on Disneyland” vs. “I have never been to Disneyland.”

ESL games for adults train your students to recognize, remember, and understand words, and they facilitate fluency, grammatical skills, and vocabulary. By engaging completely in a game, feeling positive emotions while playing it, and experiencing best learning moments, your students will enjoy your lessons and come back for more!

Interested in taking your teaching skills to the next level? Check out the Bridge Micro-credential Certificate in Games and Activities for the Online Classroom (Adults).

esl activities adults

Our diverse, global community of contributors includes experts in the field, Bridge course graduates, online and classroom-based teachers worldwide, and Bridge faculty and staff.

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ESL Speaking Games for Adults: The Key to Breaking Language Barriers

In this lesson, we share a list of fun and productive ESL speaking games for adults to help break down language barriers.

In addition, you will find practical examples of how each game can be used.

Lesson Table of Contents

1) Two Truths and a Lie

    Example Dialogue of Playing Two Truths and a Lie

    Example Dialogue of Playing Taboo

3) Story Starters

    Example Dialogue of Playing Story Starters

4) Guess Who

    Example Dialogue of Playing Guess Who

5) Desert Island

    Example Dialogue of Playing Desert Island

6) Call My Bluff

    Example Dialogue of Playing Call My Bluff

7) Role Play

    Example Dialogue of Playing Role Play

    Example Dialogue of Playing Debate

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

ESL Speaking Games

Two truths and a lie.

In this game, each student shares three statements about themselves,  but one of them is a lie.  The rest of the class has to guess which one is fake. This game is perfect for practicing simple present tense and getting to know each other.

An example dialogue of playing Two Truths and a Lie:

Teacher:  Alright, let's play "Two Truths and a Lie." I'll go first. (clears throat) Okay, here are my three statements: I have traveled to five different continents, I can speak three languages fluently, and I once competed in a hot dog eating contest.

Student 1:  Hmm, I think the lie is that you've traveled to five different continents.

Teacher:  Nope, that one is actually true! The lie is that I can speak three languages fluently. I wish I could, though.

Student 2 :  Alright, my turn. Here are my three statements: I have a pet parrot, I've never been skydiving, and I can play the guitar.

Student 1:  I think the lie is that you've never been skydiving.

Student 2 :  Nope, that one is actually true. The lie is that I can play the guitar. I'm terrible at it.

And so on! This game is a great icebreaker and a fun way to get to know each other while practicing English skills.

In this game, one student is given a word to describe, but they can't use certain "taboo" words to do it. This game is great for practicing vocabulary and descriptive language.

An example dialogue of playing Taboo:

Teacher:  Okay, let's play "Taboo." 

Teacher whispers to student 1:  The word you need to describe is "beach," but you can't use the words "ocean" or "sand."

Student 1:  Okay, it's a place where people go to swim and sunbathe. There are waves and seagulls and people build castles there.

Student 2 :  Is it the ocean?

Teacher:  No, that's one of the taboo words.

Student 3:  Is it a lake?

Student 1:  No, it's not a lake. It's a long strip of land next to the water.

Student 2 :  Oh, is it a coastline?

Teacher:  Close, but not quite. Keep going!

Student 1:  Okay, you can play volleyball there and sometimes there are lifeguards. It's also a great place to watch the sunrise.

Student 3:  Oh, I know! It's a beach!

Teacher:  That's right! Great job, everyone. Now, let's switch roles and have another student give a word to describe.

And the best part is that as you keep playing, you'll get better at using words creatively and describing things without relying on the usual suspects. Plus, it's a great way to have fun and get to know other students better!

Story Starters

In this game, one student starts a story and passes it on to the next student to continue. This game is perfect for practicing past tense and storytelling skills.

An example dialogue of playing Story Starters:

Teacher:  Alright, let's play "Story Starters." I'm going to give each of you the beginning of a story, and then you're going to take turns adding to it. Who wants to go first?

Student 1:  I'll start.

Teacher:  Okay, your story begins with: 

"The sun was shining and the birds were singing, but..."

Student 2 :  "...I was feeling miserable. I had just failed an important exam."

Student 3:  "I walked home, kicking rocks as I went. I didn't want to face my parents and tell them the bad news."

Student 1:  "But when I got home, I found a letter in the mailbox. It was from my favorite aunt, inviting me to visit her for the summer."

Student 2 :  "I hesitated for a moment, but then I realized that this was exactly what I needed. A change of scenery, some time away from my problems."

Student 3:  "So I packed my bags and hopped on a train to my aunt's house. And that's where my summer adventure began."

This game is an excellent way to develop storytelling, creativity, and critical thinking skills while having a good time.

"Guess Who" is a speaking game where one student chooses a famous or historical person without telling the others, and the rest of the group takes turns asking yes or no questions to try and guess who the person is.

The student who chose the person can only answer "yes" or "no" to each question.

The game continues until someone correctly guesses the person, or until everyone has had a chance to ask a question.

This game is a fun way to practice descriptive language, asking questions, and critical thinking skills, while also learning about famous or historical figures.

An example dialogue of playing Guess Who:

Teacher:  Let's play "Guess Who." I have thought of a famous person, and you have to guess who it is by asking me yes or no questions. Who wants to start?

Student 1:  Is the person male?

Teacher: Yes.

Student 2 :  Is the person an actor?

Teacher:  No.

Student 3:  Is the person still alive?

Student 1:  Was the person a musician?

Teacher:  Yes.

Student 2 :  Did the person play the guitar?

Teacher: No.

Student 3:  Did the person have a hit song in the 1980s?

Student 1:  Is the person Bruce Springsteen?

Student 2 :  Is the person Freddie Mercury?

Teacher: Yes, you got it! Great job, now it's your turn to think of a famous person.

And so on! This game is a fun way to practice asking questions, critical thinking skills, and learning about famous figures.

Desert Island

"Desert Island" is a speaking game where each student has to choose three items they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

The items can be anything, but they have to be practical and useful for survival.

After each student has chosen their items, they have to explain why they chose them and how they would use them to survive on the island.

The game can also be played with variations such as choosing three people or three songs instead of items.

"Desert Island" is an interesting way to practice speaking skills, critical thinking, and creativity, while also learning about each other's preferences and priorities.

An example dialogue of playing Desert Island:

Teacher:  Let's play "Desert Island." Imagine you are stranded on a desert island, and you can only bring three items with you. What would you choose? Who wants to start?

Student 1:  I would bring a knife, a water filter, and a fire starter.

Teacher:  Great choices! Why did you choose those items?

Student 1:  Well, I'm not trying to recreate Rambo on this island, but a knife would be handy for slicing up some coconuts and building a nice treehouse. You can't survive long without water, so that filter is a no-brainer. And who doesn't love a good old fire? I'll be able to warm myself up, cook up some stuff, and hopefully flag down passing ships for a ride home.

Student 2 :  I would bring a satellite phone, a solar-powered charger, and a waterproof tent.

Teacher: Another great set of choices! Why did you choose those items?

Listen, that satellite phone is going to be my ticket off this island. And who wants to be stuck with a dead phone battery during an emergency? Not me. That's why that solar charger is coming with me. I'm not a fan of the whole "sleeping in the rain" thing, so that waterproof tent is going to be helpful on the island.

Student 3:  I would bring a fishing net, a pot, and a hammock.

Teacher:  Those are some unique choices! Why did you choose them?

Student 3:  The fishing net would help me to catch fish for food. The pot would allow me to boil water and cook food. And the hammock would provide me with a comfortable place to sleep and relax.

This game serves as an effective tool for practicing various speaking skills, such as descriptive language and persuasive reasoning, while also improving critical thinking and creative problem-solving abilities.

Call My Bluff

"Call My Bluff" is a fun and challenging speaking game that can help students improve their vocabulary and critical thinking skills.

To play, the teacher or one of the students selects a word from a dictionary that most of the group is unlikely to know.

The person who selected the word reads to himself the definition and then makes up two false definitions for the word.

The other students then have to guess which definition is the correct one.

The student who guesses correctly gets a point, selects a new word and the game continues.

This game can be played in teams or individually, and it's a great way to learn new words and their meanings while also having fun and improving speaking skills.

An example dialogue of playing Call My Bluff:

Teacher:  Okay, the word for this round is "flummox." (Reads to himself?: and the definition is "to greatly confuse.")

Teacher (out loud):  Possible definitions of "flummox": (a) to make something shiny or bright, (b) to make someone very happy, (c) to confuse someone very much.

Student 1:  Okay, I'll go first. It's (a), to make something shiny.

Student 2 :  Hmm, I think it's (c) to confuse.

Teacher: Correct! That's one point for you. Now it's your turn to select a new word.

Student 2 :  Sure, the next word is "collywobbles." (The real definition is "a feeling of discomfort or anxiety in the stomach.")

Student 2 (out loud):  Alright, Collywobbles: (a) a type of candy, (b) a feeling of discomfort or anxiety in the stomach, (c) a type of bird.

Student 1:  I'm pretty sure it's (b) a feeling of discomfort or anxiety in the stomach.

Student 3:  That's right! How did you know that?

And so on, with players taking turns and trying to guess the correct definition. 

In this game, students are given a scenario and assigned roles to play out. This is a useful way to practice specific language functions, such as making a complaint, giving directions, or ordering food at a restaurant.

An example dialogue of playing Role Play in an ESL class:

Teacher:  "Today, we're going to practice some role plays. Let's start with a common scenario: ordering food in a restaurant. Student 1, you'll be the waiter, and Jay, you'll be the customer. Ready to start?"

Student 1:  "Yes, I'm ready."

Student 2 :  "Sure, let's do this."

Teacher: "Okay, go ahead!"

Student 1:  "Good evening, and welcome to our restaurant. What can I get for you today?"

Student 2 :  "Hi there, I'd like to order a steak, medium-rare, please."

Student 1:  "Great choice! Would you like any sides with that?"

Student 2 :  "Yes, I'd like some mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables."

Student 1:  "Excellent. And would you like anything to drink?"

Student 2 :  "Yes, I'll have a glass of red wine, please."

Student 1:  "Wonderful. Your order is complete. Thank you for choosing our restaurant."

Teacher:  "Great job! Now let's switch roles. Jay, you'll be the waiter, and Student 1, you'll be the customer."

And the role play continues with different scenarios, allowing students to practice real-life situations and improve their language skills.

In this game, students are given a controversial topic and assigned to argue for or against it. This allows students to practice persuasive language and logical reasoning.

An example dialogue of playing Debate : (Topic: Is it better to work for a large company or a small one?)

Teacher:  Okay, let's begin the debate. Mark, you will be arguing in favor of working for a large company, while Jay will be arguing in favor of working for a small company. You each have two minutes to make your arguments. Mark, you may begin.

Mark:  Thank you. I strongly believe that working for a large company is the better option.

Large companies have more resources, which means more opportunities for growth and development.

They also offer better benefits and job security. With a large company, you have more chances to network and meet new people, which can lead to more career opportunities.

Jay:  Yeah, I get where you're coming from, but let me give you my take on this. Working for a small company is far better. In a small company, you have the chance to wear many hats, learn various skills and take on more responsibilities. You are not just another cog in the machine. You have a greater sense of ownership over your work and the company, which makes the job more fulfilling.

Mark:  That may be true, but in a small company, you have fewer resources, less job security, and limited opportunities for growth. Large companies have more support systems in place, such as training programs and mentorship opportunities, which can help employees develop and advance in their careers.

Jay:  But in a small company, you have more autonomy and freedom. You are not restricted by strict rules and regulations like you are in a large company. In a small company, you can make a real impact and effect change.

Mark:  I totally get it. But I think there's another side to this debate that we should consider. Working for a large company provides stability and security. In a small company, you may not have that same level of job security or stability, especially if the company is not doing well financially.

Jay:  I understand your point that working for a big company is more stable, but I disagree. Sometimes, big companies are not financially secure, and small companies can be more adaptable to market changes, which can lead to long-term success and job security. We need to consider other factors beyond company size for job stability and security.

Teacher:  Okay, thank you both for your arguments. It seems that both of you have made valid points. I'll let the class vote to determine the winner. 

Teacher (to the class): Who had the more convincing arguments?

Let's take a quick poll by raising our hands.

This concludes this list of ESL speaking games for adults. Use these games in class and watch your students' speaking skills improve. 

Remember to mix things up and try new games from time to time to keep your classes fresh and engaging.

In addition to using these games, don't forget to encourage your students to speak as much as possible in class. Create a positive and supportive environment where students feel comfortable practicing their language skills  without fear of making mistakes . 

Praising their efforts and offering constructive feedback can go a long way in boosting their confidence and motivation to learn.

Lastly, consider  using short stories to enhance your ESL classes . We have many storybooks and workbooks available that can help you create engaging and productive lessons.

So if anyone tells you that learning a new language has to be boring, just give them a wink and say "I've got a game for that!"

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10 ESL Games for Adults

Every student deserves a little fun every now and again!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the educational twists that can be put on games to help students in your adult ESL classes improve their English skills.

Many of the following games have been a big hit in the classes I’ve taught, and they may prove to be useful in your lessons, too.

This is a valuable opportunity to be creative and to deliver lesson content that suits exactly the needs of your students, while having fun at the same time!

1. Best for Debating Skills: The Bridge

2. best for advanced students: united nations, 3. best for speaking: antarctic development, 4. best for decision making: sam’s choices, 5. best for general knowledge: jeopardy, 6. best for beginners: codenames.

  • 7. Best for Minimal Preparation: Heads Up

8. Best for Memory Skills: Running Dictation

9. best for small groups: sinking ship, 10. best for teams: taboo.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Background : While her husband is working away, a woman crosses the bridge in the center of her village to spend the night with her lover. She’s woken the next morning by gunfire and explosions. A civil war has broken out, trapping her on this side of the bridge. When she approaches the bridge, she’s turned away.

She asks her lover for money to bribe the soldier, but he refuses and insists that she stay permanently with him. A family friend also refuses to help, disappointed by her affair. When she tries to rush across the bridge, the soldier follows his orders and shoots her dead. Who’s responsible for the death of the woman?

Gameplay: This ESL classic has many variants. Feel free to add more characters, or color them in different ways (the soldier is drunk, his command officer is a megalomaniac, the husband has a girlfriend where he works, the lover is a serial marriage-wrecker, etc.) and assign roles to your students, who will then try to convince the class that they’re the  least responsible  for her murder.

At the end, everyone votes for the most (five points) to the least (one point) responsible character, and the votes are totaled.

Background: Two neighboring nations are on the brink of war and your students are responsible for averting the crisis.

Gameplay: Include tricky points of negotiation, e.g. local resources or disputed territories, the return of captured soldiers, a proposed technology exchange, visiting rights for pilgrims to a temple on disputed land, trade agreements, etc.

In its fullest form, this has been one of my most successful ESL games and can take 2-3 hours of presentation about the background of the conflict, discussion between members of the negotiating team to create their plan, negotiation with the opposing side and the drawing up of an agreement.

Background: The Antarctic Development Commission and the Antarctic Protection League are facing off in a televised debate to inform the public.

The ADC wants permission to dig, mine and drill in this pristine region, while the APL is committed to limiting such development and preserving the continent’s natural state. On one side is cheap fossil fuels and minerals; on the other stands the wildlife and unique beauty of the last unspoiled wilderness.

Gameplay: The two teams must prepare their approaches and offer compromises to the other which ensure the protection of wildlife and the natural environment, while accepting that some form of development is almost inevitable. This is a perfect test-case for the notion of trickle-down economics.

Gameplay: This requires some preparation from the teacher, but once you’ve created the game, you’ll have it for life and your students will love it.

Begin with a list of the choices faced by a typical teenager: School, free time, romance, college, aspirations, etc. Then write a set of numbered cards, each leading to two or three choices and each with outcomes in the areas of Happiness, Life Experience and Earning Potential.

Add points for decisions that enhance these areas of Sam’s life, and deduct points for the mistakes. The online tool Inklewriter is designed for the creation of CYOA texts, and is easy to use.

Background:  Readily adaptable for the ESL classroom, “Jeopardy” is a game show for individuals (or teams) answering questions on a range of topics.

Gameplay: Include topic areas relevant to your students, and offer more money for more challenging questions. Choose a time during the class (at random) to hit them with a “Daily Double,” offering twice the prize money for a given question. I’ve included categories which test grammar , vocabulary and knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet for my trainee teachers.

Background: Codenames is a word association game that challenges players’ communication skills.

Gameplay: This is played in teams, with each team having a spymaster and field operatives. The spymaster gives one-word clues to their team to guide them in identifying specific words on a grid. You’ll need to select a clue that connects multiple words at once, while avoiding any that belong to the opposing team. Teams must decipher the clues and successfully uncover all their words before the other team.

7. Best for Minimal Preparation : Heads Up

Background: Heads Up is a party game inspired by charades but adapted for the digital age. All you’ll need is a device that has the app downloaded onto it, and you’re good to go!

Gameplay: Following the instructions on the app, one person holds the device against their forehead, displaying a word or phrase so that the other people in the group can see it. The rest of the players provide clues to help the person guess what’s on the screen (without actually saying the word!).

The challenge is to guess as many words as possible within the time limit, making it a fast-paced activity that encourages teamwork and gets players thinking of a range of English vocabulary terms.

Background: Running Dictation is a game that combines reading, listening  and teamwork. It is often played in classrooms, and is great for ESL students.

Gameplay: Participants are divided into pairs, with one person playing the role of the “writer” and the other playing the role of the “runner.” The runner memorizes a section of a text and runs back to dictate it to the writer who is facing away from the text.

The “writer” then transcribes what they here, and the process repeats until the writer has written the whole text down correctly. The first team to complete the dictation (accurately!) wins the game.

Background: Sinking Ship simulates a scenario where a ship is gradually sinking, and players must choose a certain number of survivors to get on the lifeboat.

Gameplay: Players read through a worksheet such as this one detailing all the passengers who are onboard the sinking ship. Information includes things such as the ages of the characters, good things about them, as well as not-so-good things about them. From this information, players must debate with each other about who gets to survive.

Background: Taboo is a word-guessing game where players have to help their teammates guess certain words.

Gameplay: This game is usually played in teams, with each team having a “clue giver” and “guessers.” The clue giver has to help their teammates guess a specific word written on a card, without using any of the “taboo” words or phrases also listed on the card. The game is usually played with a timer, which adds an extra element of pressure and excitement.

Teams earn points for correctly guessing words within the given time limit. This is another great choice of game to help your students challenge the limits of their English vocabulary.

If you want to help your students expand their vocabulary for games such as Taboo or Heads Up, you could try using the language learning program FluentU.

FluentU has a curated library of authentic English videos with dual-language interactive subtitles, which you can assign to your students. They can study what they’ve learned through multimedia flashcards, and you are able to track their progress to see how much work each student has completed.

With a little forethought, you’ll be able to create terrific games for your classes.

Often, students are particularly grateful for material they know their teacher has created specifically for them, and you’ll find a very enthusiastic reaction.

Be sure to join in the fun yourself!

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Learn and Grow

Free ESL Worksheets for Adults (48 Great Resources)

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By Caitriona Maria

December 23, 2020

English as a second language (ESL) Worksheets can help adults learn a lot of useful information that will help them in their personal and professional lives. 

However, ESL worksheets for young learners rarely cater to capable adults, which is why we have compiled a list of our exclusive ESL worksheets for adults.

If you’ve missed it, we’ve already listed the best ESL worksheets for beginners and the best ESL worksheets for advanced learners in our other posts. Without further ado, let’s dive into some recommendations for adult learners.

1. ISL Collective

ISL Collective has a ton of free resources, yes, even for adults! 

It is a handy site for bulking up your lesson plan with popular worksheets created by teachers. If you find a particular teacher you like, you can take a look at their profile for more great resources. 

You can just find just about anything on ISL Collective . Type it in the search bar.

Please note that you will have to check for errors because these resources were created by regular tutors like ourselves (not a company with a proofreader). I have noticed grammatical mistakes in some resources, even the most popular ones.

Here are some free resources to get you started:

  • At the bank (vocab, grammar, and comprehension)
  • Let me introduce myself (adult edition)
  • Conversation Lesson: Culture Shock
  • Telling the Time
  • Speed Dating (using prefer and comparatives)

2. Breaking News English

Breaking News English is an excellent resource for adults. 

At Breaking News English, you can sort by level. 0-3 is easy. 4-6 is more challenging.

Once you’ve sorted by level, you can find wacky, unconventional news on every kind of topic. 

They have news lessons on education, business English , environment, people/gossip, lifestyle, health, issues, and world news.

They usually have a news story , new vocabulary (explained), and exercises in each worksheet. They also have podcast versions of the news stories.

When you’ve found a lesson you like, click “Print the Lesson” in the Read section.

How to Print Worksheet

The best thing is that all the worksheets are free! They are high quality and could easily suffice for a full 60-minute to 90-minute lesson.

Here are some worksheets for adults for you to sample:

  • South Korean Lantern Light Festival
  • Scientists Say They Can Reverse the Aging Process
  • Japan + A.I. Matchmaking
  • Ecocide Could Become an International Crime
  • Unhealthy Diet Creates Height Gap in Children

3. ESL Library

If you are looking for high-quality ESL worksheets for adults, you will certainly find them here at ESL Library. While this is not a free resource and involves a monthly or yearly billing subscription, teachers can dig out some free material to sample.

ESL library is a great supplement to your teaching materials. It allows teachers to search by topic and include a quick worksheet to complement a lesson plan.

When checking out their worksheets on a particular topic, teachers can sort the topics into their own folders for later use. They can also check the worksheets’ US, Canadian, or UK versions. Each worksheet comes with a teacher and student PDF version and downloadable audio.

Their lesson categories include discussions and debates, grammar , young learners and adult literacy, everyday English, academic and business English, reading and discovery, holidays and travel, and English storylines.

ESL Library also has digital lessons that can be broadcast in the classroom, flashcards, and other printable content.

  • Distracted Driving Int-Adv
  • The Second Conditional Int
  • Long Lost Friends (Idioms- Int)
  • Internet Entrepreneurs (Business- Adv)
  • Susan B. Anthony 

You may also be interested in:   Excellent ESL Icebreaker Activities

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4. English Club

English Club has lots of useful resources and free worksheets for adult learners. They also have an ESL section dedicated to teachers. 

You just have to know where to look. To find it, click the upper right-hand corner of their website, entitled “Teach.” Here you can conveniently sort by ESL worksheets, lesson plans, talking points, ESL activities, and so forth.

For the purpose of this blog post, we will select “ESL Worksheets.” From here, you can sort the worksheets by topics– conversation worksheets, Find Someone Who worksheets, or video project worksheets.

You can also sort the worksheets by skill– reading, listening, writing, speaking, pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary.

Here are some samples you might be interested in:

  • Countable VS Uncountable
  • Time Sorting
  • ESL Conversation– Crime
  • Useful Homophone List by Level
  • Word Stress 1
  • Divided Kingdom Listening

5. Learn English Feel Good

Learn English Feel Good is great for adult grammar worksheets, and you will find a host of their worksheets readily available without having to search high and low!

Their downloadable worksheets cover tenses, verbs, articles, prepositions, pronouns , and many others that will keep adult learners busy.

Before handing out these worksheets, revising the grammar topic or providing some kind of introduction would be good, as these worksheets head straight into the exercise without much explanation.

There are also some answers on the second page of each worksheet. Not for handing out to students, of course!

  • Article or No Article
  • Reported Speech 
  • Tag Questions
  • Present Continuous or Present Simple?
  • The Future Perfect Tense
  • The Passive Voice

Teach English Online

You may also be interested in: The Best English Teaching Companies in 2022.

6. Teach This

Teach This is another great site for ESL adult teaching materials. This site has an abundance of resources, especially for the exclusive (paying) ESL teacher.

Teach This uncovers ESL worksheets for grammar, parts of speech, functional English, general English, and games.

The entire worksheets library can be downloaded for just a $39 yearly subscription. Or teachers can sign up for a monthly subscription.

Here are some of the free resources you can find on the site. They have some short and long worksheets to complete:

  • Money Phrasal Verbs
  • The Rose B1
  • A New Country
  • Agreeing and Disagreeing
  • Would You Like to Leave a Message

You may also be interested in: Best Grammar Websites for Students

7. Off2Class

Off2Class is a paid platform that offers a full virtual classroom for teachers and students. 

I talk much more about Off2Class in my Off2Class review and interview with teacher trainer Chris Rush.

The lesson materials are of superb quality and cut the lesson planning time. If, however, you are just looking for free ESL worksheets for adults, they also have some of those to try out too.

Off2Class Plaatform

Teachers can also avail of free ESL worksheets when they sign up via e-mail.

Here are some worksheets for you to try out with your adult learners:

  • The English Alphabet
  • Teaching Business English — Advertising
  • Teaching Adjectives and Opposites
  • 4 Free IELTS Lessons
  • Family Routine Reading
  • Being Healthy (Questio n s and Vocabulary)

8. ESL Pals

ESL Pals might be the new kid on the block, but they offer a range of high-quality resources for adults. The worksheets are article and video-based. They add new lessons regularly. If you want to receive some free lessons, sign up to receive their emails.

ESL Pals have general English, business English, grammar, and conversation class lesson plans. You can pay a subscription fee for unlimited access to their curriculum.

Check out some of the free worksheets they have made available:

  • Should (A2-B1)
  • Netflix: Competition in Business (B2)
  • How to Describe People (A2)
  • How to Make Better Decisions (B2)
  • The Interview Process (C1)
  • Family (A1)

9. Pinterest

Pinterest has an abundance of worksheets for teaching English, but it will take a bit of digging to find the right one.

Simply type “ESL worksheets for adults” into the search bar, and you will find various worksheets. Or you can be more specific about what you are looking for, “business English worksheets.” The more detailed, the better.

Pinterest is good at pulling up the most popular resources for teachers to choose from.

Pinterest often links to other websites so you can find even more resources.

Here are some examples of what you can find on Pinterest:

  • Emails in English
  • Be More Descriptive
  • Phone Conversation
  • Sample Interview Questions

In Conclusion

Many resources are available on the internet to keep you and your adult learners busy learning English. These are just some of the ESL worksheets for adults I’ve found with a quick Google search.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Check the Best ESL Websites for Teachers and see if there is anything I missed. I’m sure you can find what you’re looking for.

While these worksheets are suitable for adult learners (beginner to advanced), they can also be adapted to younger learners. I hope you’ve found this list helpful.

Like this post? Don’t forget to share so others can find it!

Useful Links

  • Online ESL Games to Play
  • Best Rolling Carts for Teachers
  • Teach English Online Ultimate Guide
  • How I Use Manycam for Online Classes
  • Pros and Cons of Online Teaching

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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Gogokid vs magic ears: which should you choose.


Thanks a lot. You are the best.

Really useful suggestions! Thanks heaps!

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Let's Have Fun! 7 Most Entertaining ESL Games For Adults

Let's Have Fun! 7 Most Entertaining ESL Games For Adults

It’s not always easy to study English. Even if your willpower is strong, sometimes you need something different and entertaining to keep you focused.

Engaging kids in language learning is a lot easier than adults.  Luckily, there are many ways that can be both helpful and fun for ECL students.

As much as classic games such as Hangman or Scrabble seem exciting, they, on the other hand, aren’t entertaining to everyone. 

That’s where games made especially for ESL adult students come in.

Read on to find out whether games are efficient learning tools for adults and which ones are precisely useful to help them improve their English.

And now, take a break from learning and have fun with ESL games.

Are ESL Games Really Efficient?

Playing any game that helps you improve your target language is useful. Not only that adults can have fun and learn something useful at the same time.

  • Playing ESL games is a great break from dictionaries and books. As much entertaining as a book can be, sometimes you can get stuck with dull dialogues or exercises.
  • Changing the way of learning is good because it keeps you motivated to move forward and make progress.
  • ESL games can help the shy and students with a lack of confidence to communicate with other learners and liberate themselves a bit. This way, students can meet others and practice their speaking skills even beyond classes.
  • Through different activities, students can express their other skills, such as a talent for arts or acting.

And we could write twice as many reasons why using games is more than helpful, but perhaps it’s better to show you some concrete ESL games for adults. That way, you can see and understand how to play those games.

7 Entertaining ESL Games For Adults to Help You Improve Your Language Skills

Vocabulary esl games.

No matter your proficiency level, vocabulary is a necessary tool to speak with native English speakers.

Often, it can be pretty boring memorizing new words and phrases or writing them down over and over again.

That’s why the following games may help you facilitate learning new and repeating familiar words.

Phrasal Verbs Match Up!

Best for intermediate and advanced students

This game is perfect for memorizing and practicing phrasal verbs. It is well-known that phrasal verbs are a must in English, so let’s find some fun way to learn them.

The more learners there are, the better. Let’s students divide into groups, each containing 2-4 participants. Every group gets two piles of papers. Write down the verbs on one pile of papers, and on the other, prepositions.

The game starts when each participant chooses one paper from each pile. This way, they get a verb and a preposition. If the verb and the preposition the player got exists as a phrasal verb, he has to think up a sentence with it.

You can play the game until there are no piles left.

If you can’t think of the examples, here are some suggestions:

Verbs pile: call, come, give, get, go, keep, make, put, set, take

Prepositions pile: about, around, at, away, in, into, of, off, on, out, through

Number Bingo!

Best for beginners

This game is perfect for practicing numbers from one to ten, although once you master the first ten numbers, you can expand the range.

As much dull as the game may seem, it is actually one of the favorite games because it releases the pressure of learning and shows that repeating numbers over and over again can be fun.

Make bingo cards. Which number you will use and how it is going to look like depends on your creativity.

For a start, use the numbers from one to 30. When all the numbers from one to 30 are found on the card, it’s time to start picking numbers randomly and saying them out loud. The one who has all or most of the numbers on his card has to say ‘Bingo!’

Conversation ESL Games

There are no specific conversation games to help you improve your speaking skills because every communication in English as your second language counts.

However, if you want to make learning more entertaining, here are some recommendations about speaking activities. Talk to your classmates or friends about the topics you are interested in the most.

If some of your worry about global warming and the environment, write down some questions and arguments and start discussing it.

If you choose to talk about the environment, we can recommend some questions as a starting point.

Environment questions:

  • Are you worried about the environment?
  • What do you think about global warming?
  • Do you recycle?
  • Can technology help recycle and solve issues about the environment?
  • What do you think future generations will think about their environment, global warming, and will they do something useful about it?

Grammar ESL Games

Grammar games for adults can help them repeat known grammar structures and to learn new patterns easily.

Here are some of the fun and light games to help you with grammar rules.

Tic Tac Toe

Best for intermediate students

The game is ideal for practicing past simple tense of irregular verbs, although you can combine with other tenses as well.

Make two teams. Draw a Tic tac toe on paper or on the board. Write the infinitive of irregular verbs in each square. To win the game, each team has to make sentences using the correct form of the verb given in the grid.

Passive Party

Passive voice can be challenging if you don’t get it on time. If you don’t want it to give you a headache and knowing exactly how and when to use it, try playing the ‘Passive Party’ game.

Not only will you practice grammar, but you will also improve your vocabulary.

You can find some useful worksheets on the internet, or you can make your own Passive party.

Usually, at parties, a lot is going on. At your party, something got out of control. 

As a host, you have to know, what happened exactly. You can ask questions and others have to answer.

For example:

  • What happened to the kitchen?

Answer: It was flooded.

  • What happened to my priceless vase?

Answer: It was broken.

  • Where 100-year-old scotch disappeared?

Answer: It was drunk. (by someone)

Pronunciation ESL Games

Many ESL learners have difficulties in pronouncing words correctly. The main problem is the accent.

That’s why some of the following games can help you improve your English pronunciation .

Homophone Go Fish

Best for beginners and intermediate students

This is quite an entertaining way to practice homophones in English.

Write down the homophones you are using on a separate piece of paper. You can make many cards as you want.

Divide into small groups. Let each group get a set of cards, five of them, for example. The remaining cards are put on the table to pull if needed.

To win the game, each participant or a group has to find a matching homophone by asking various questions with the questions ‘do you a have a word that sounds like…’ and then you say a similar word.

If the group doesn’t have a homophone, they have to say ‘Go fish!’ and opponents draw a new card from the pile on the table.

The aim of the game is for the learners to know the difference in one element of the word, such as the difference between ‘bad’ and ‘bed.’

Every language has a different set of vowels and consonants in a word so it’s essential for ESL learners to practice this way the more possible.

Make two columns and write down similar pairs of words that differ in only one sound. You say one word of a column and the other student has to find its pair and to say it correctly.

It’s not mandatory to put the words in columns. You can write them down on cards and divide them into two piles. The participant picks a card and pronounces the word. The other participant has to find a similar word from the other pile which is spread on the table. When he finds it, he has to say it correctly, otherwise, his team loses poi

Final Thoughts

As you can see, playing ESL games is ideal for several people, so teamwork is essential. It’s not called the game, after all.

The point of all these ESL games is to motivate adult learners to continue learning and practicing all parts of the language because only with practice one can get to the next level of proficiency.

Which of these games became your favorite? Which one do you consider challenging? Share your experience in the comments below!

If you’re interested in becoming fluent in a new language, check out these top online learning resources: Kick off your learning with Babbel , where interactive, enjoyable lessons are designed to blend smoothly into your routine, fostering fast and effective language learning. For those aiming for an in-depth understanding, Udemy provides a broad spectrum of courses from basic to advanced levels. To enhance your speaking skills, Preply connects you with native speakers for personalized coaching, ensuring significant improvement. Take advantage of a 50% discount on your first lesson at Preply with this link .

Are ESL games effective?

Playing any game that helps you improve your target language is useful. Not only that adults can have fun and learn something useful at the same time. Playing ESL games is a great break from dictionaries and books. As much entertaining as a book can be, sometimes you can get stuck with dull dialogues or exercises. Changing the way of learning is good because it keeps you motivated to move forward and make progress. ESL games can help the shy and students with a lack of confidence to communicate with other learners and liberate themselves a bit. This way, students can meet others and practice their speaking skills even beyond classes. Through different activities, students can express their other skills, such as a talent for arts or acting.

What are the most entertaining ESL games for adults to learn languages?

Vocabulary ESL Games, Phrasal Verbs Match Up, Number Bingo, Conversation ESL Games, Grammar ESL Games, Pronunciation ESL Games.

What are the best grammar ESL games?

Grammar games for adults can help them repeat known grammar structures and to learn new patterns easily. Here are two of the fun and light games to help you with grammar rules;Tic Tac Toe and Passive Party

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ESL Games

Top Games for ESL Adults: Making Learning Fun and Effective

Learning English as a second language (ESL) can be a daunting task, especially for adults. Traditional teaching methods can sometimes be tedious, but introducing games into the learning process can make a significant difference. Not only do games make learning fun, but they also enhance retention and comprehension. Here, we delve into the most popular and effective 'games for ESL adults' to make their English learning journey enjoyable. At ESL GAMES PLUS we offer a variety of esl games for adults to practice learning English @

Benefits of Using Games in ESL Teaching for Adults

1. Boosts Motivation: Games introduce a fun element into the learning process, making adults more motivated to participate and engage.

2. Enhances Memory: Playing games requires repetition, which significantly aids in the retention of new vocabulary and structures.

3. Promotes Real-life Interaction: Many games simulate real-life scenarios, allowing learners to practice conversational English in a safe environment.

Popular Games for ESL Adults

1. Scrabble: This classic word game is excellent for vocabulary expansion. ESL learners can challenge themselves to form new words and, in the process, understand word structures and spellings.

2. 20 Questions: An excellent game for comprehension and forming questions. One player thinks of a word, and others ask up to 20 questions to guess what it is. This game helps in practicing question forms and broadening vocabulary.

3. Charades: This game is perfect for practicing verbs or action words. Players act out a word without speaking, and others guess the word. It's an active, engaging way to learn and reinforces the connection between action and vocabulary.

4. Role-Playing: Design scenarios like ordering food in a restaurant, checking into a hotel, or attending a job interview. Such role-plays help learners practice conversational English and understand cultural nuances.

Tips to Implement ESL Games Effectively

1. Choose Games Based on Skill Level: It's essential to pick games that align with the learner's proficiency level. For beginners, simple word games might be more appropriate, while advanced learners can benefit from complex role-playing scenarios.

2. Ensure a Learning Objective: Every game should have a clear learning goal, whether it's vocabulary expansion, grammar practice, or pronunciation enhancement.

3. Provide Feedback: After each game session, offer feedback. Discuss the words or structures learned and correct any common mistakes.

Incorporating 'games for ESL adults' into the learning curriculum can transform the way adults perceive language learning. With the right blend of fun and education, these games offer a unique approach that is both engaging and effective. So, if you're an ESL instructor or an adult learner, consider adding these games to your teaching or learning regimen for a more dynamic English learning experience."

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68 ESL Games to Level Up Your Class + Help Your Students Learn English

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  • January 15, 2021


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Regardless of age or skill level, all students love ESL games for their ability to break up, foster social connection, and support challenging lessons. Chosen correctly, the right game is incredibly beneficial for helping students retain information .  In addition to driving home lesson content, games instill important structural norms in the classroom such as following the rules of an activity. In addition, games are also a great way to tip the scales between teacher and student talk time – this is especially important for younger students as it teaches them the all-important life skill of listening.

We’ve put together seven different categories of ESL games to learn English with 67 in total – no matter if you’re teaching in Japan or Jersey, there is something in here for you.

Keep in mind that some (not all) of the games we’ve listed here require materials that may not come standard with every classroom – equipment such as internet connections, computers, plenty of paper, dice, cards, and other aids.

ESL Games for Kids

Many of the best games for kids incorporate a plethora of physical activity to exorcise all pent-up energy from hours in the classroom (this is especially true in Asia, where kids spend 12 or more hours in a classroom almost every day).

So, getting your students moving around throughout the day will give them a positive way of expending energy while learning and reinforcing the lesson.  If you start playing more physically active games with your youth classes, you just might see lower incidences of bad behavior and higher test scores.

  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Typhoon (Super Fun Sticky Ball Game)
  • 5 Fun Preposition Games
  • Alphabet Songs
  • Alphabet Activities
  • Match the Meaning Reading Game
  • Phonics Games
  • Video: 9 Easy ESL Teaching Games for Online or in Class

ESL Games for Adults

Don’t let anyone tell you that ESL games are just for young learners. Adults love games too – depending on the game, sometimes perhaps even more so than children.

Many adult students, in fact, retain more information that is processed during an energy-intensive game than information presented during lectures, writing, or small group activities.

You don’t need to make your adult students run and jump around to reap the benefits either – simply standing up and walking around the room will do the trick.

If your class is particularly drowsy after lunch, save these activities for then to help prevent your students from falling asleep. 

  • The Corporation Game
  • Toilet Paper Icebreaker
  • 20 Questions
  • Dating Game

We’ve got more ESL icebreakers here if you need them!

ESL Vocabulary Games

Consistent repetition drives home vocabulary. In fact, it’s commonly believed that a learner needs to use a word at least seven times before it sticks.  

On its own, repetition is boring and monotonous. Why not turn it into a fun game?  Vocabulary ESL games are great because there are usually fewer rules to learn which means games start quickly and the students are engaged more easily.

We particularly like incorporating these games into a test review session or if your lesson plan revolves heavily around new vocab words. 

Several of these games are competitive, which students of all ages appreciate as they get the shot to outshine their peers and feel personally invested in the outcome of the activity.

  • Speed Scrabble 
  • Sphere Selector
  • Don’t Say the Words!
  • The Fly Swatter Game
  • Vocabulary Games (Youtube Video)
  • Hidden Picture Games

ESL Games With Flashcards (for Vocab)

When properly utilized, ESL flashcards are a great way to boost students’ vocabulary.

If there is a particular subject you are working on, or there is some supplemental vocabulary related to your core lesson plans, vocabulary drills with flashcards can be a fun and engaging way to work with the language.

Have your students pair up, giving each pair a stack of vocabulary cards. Depending on how many cards you have for each group, set the time to about one or two minutes (longer time if the stack of cards is large, shorter time if it is small).

You can have the students write the names of the image or concept on the back of each card, but make sure the word is not visible from the front!

Then, as quickly as they can, have the students work together showing the image while their partner is trying to guess the word in English. When the timer is up, stop everyone, have them count how many cards they guessed correctly, then have the teams switch roles.

You can give this activity a competitive edge by offering prizes for the team with the greatest number of correct cars at the end of the time.

Here are several free flashcard resources that you can use for various common ESL topics.

  • Kitchen Verbs
  • Rooms in a House
  • Common Occupations

ESL Classroom Games

The good news about these ESL games is that they are appropriate for any age level. They also incorporate features of the classroom, such as the whiteboard or walls of the room and therefore require less prep than other ESL activities on this list. 

These games, best of all, require minimal preparation or materials beforehand. If you value your prep time, these are for you!

  • Circle Memory Sentences
  • Blindfolded Games
  • Four Corner Fun
  • Easy English Quizzes

ESL Online Games

If you’ve got a computer lab or projector, it’s easy to find and play ESL games on any subject with a few keystrokes. There are tons of free web resources such as Games to Learn English that you can use to find engaging online games specifically designed for ESL.

In addition to the advantage of having so many options on the web at your fingertips, many of these online games are also highly adaptable, so customizing them to fit the preferences of your students and the current content you are teaching is easy. 

  • Spelling bee
  • Games, Puzzles, Quizzes
  • Pronunciation Games
  • Jeopardy Review
  • Paint by Idioms
  • 5 Games for Teaching English Online (Youtube Video)

ESL Conversation Games

While all of the games listed previously foster interaction between students to some degree, the following ESL game options in this section are really focused on speech and conversing with one another.  

Increasing your students’ speaking time can sometimes be a tough goal and can be even tougher if you have one student who loves to talk and participate for every five students who love to sit in the back in silence. 

To combat this common classroom issue, use an ESL conversation game to break up the class and mix your talkative students with your quiet students.  Having the focus not be on just one speaker at a time can really help all your students increase time speaking in the classroom while practicing within the structure of a well-crafted game.

  • Fun Things to Do with Idioms
  • Team Debate
  • 2 Truths and a Lie
  • Who’s Telling the Truth?
  • Crazy Cubes

ESL Grammar Games

Grammar is arguably one of the most difficult things to simultaneously teach AND keep interesting.  Luckily incorporating games into your lesson plan can be a perfect way to liven it up.  

You can choose to play some of these games at the end of a lesson to really bring home the concept you were teaching.  If your students already know some of the material, these games could then be played at the start of a lesson as a review and warm-up activity to prep them for your lesson.

  • Guess the Action
  • Past Simple Bingo
  • Present Simple Board Game

Interactive ESL Games

In 2020, we are well into the fourth industrial revolution . Think of how different the typical modern classroom looks compared to one from just a few decades ago – then imagine that rate of change at digitized warp speed. That is where we are headed.

The landscape of the future digitized classroom will look quite different in just a few short years than it does now. There may be drawbacks to this educational evolution, but one of the benefits is certainly the opportunity for interactive learning .

Here are the top interactive ESL games to incorporate in your lesson plans (assuming you have access to computers and the web). For the second game below (online vocab test) you can make a competition out of the content by dividing the class into two or more teams.

  • Mad Takes (free version of Mad Libs)
  • Ancient Life Vocabulary Test (and Other Topics)
  • Online Crossword Puzzle
  • Numbers guessing game
  • Do the Actions

ESL Games for Teens

Unfortunately, the majority of the games for use in the ESL classroom are designed with primary-level learners in mind. If you teach teenagers, this means that locating game ideas that actually stand a chance to be effective in your classroom requires wading through pages of material intended for younger students.

Some games that work for young students work in classrooms with adolescents and some do not – the ones that engage teens best tend to foster a greater leeway for creativity and abstract conceptualization, such as the ones featured below.

Here are a few teen-specific ESL games that are likely to grab and hold your students’ attention.

  • Never Have I Ever
  • Running Dictation
  • Paper airplane competition

ESL Games for Kindergarten

In the five-year-old mind, learning is either synonymous with “fun” or it does not occur at all. At this age, students are simply not yet capable of “buckling down” for rigorous academic work.

There is a reason that teachers of young learners sometimes feel sapped of energy after a particularly challenging lesson; to reach kindergarten-age students effectively, you must engage with them in an energetic way.

Accordingly, you’ll want to include a healthy smattering of games if you have classes at this level. Here are a few of the best:

  • Hangman (a kindergarten staple with interactive online option)
  • ESL Flashcard Games
  • Come Back! Come Back!
  • Concentration Matching Game

ESL Games for Speaking and Pronunciation

As a foreign ESL teacher, chances are good that you’ll be asked to heavily focus your lessons on speaking and pronunciation – based on the assumption that yours is immaculate as a native or native-level speaker.

The sounds of the English phonetics are markedly different than those of many language families throughout the world. Each native tongue will have its unique phonetic idiosyncrasies that translate poorly to spoken English. The responsibility for helping your students develop in this regard is likely to fall on your shoulders.

Instructing your students in proper pronunciation, indeed, may be one of the most challenging aspects of development for your students. Here are some of the best games to aid the process.

  • Homophone Go Fish
  • Fruit Salad
  • Sounds Brainstorming Board Race
  • Rhyming Pairs

ESL Games for Beginners

ESL games should be a part of any beginner’s curriculum as tools to pique students’ interest in English learning by making it fun and stimulating.

With a limited English skill set, the options for games with beginning students are a bit more limited than with more advanced learners. Nonetheless, you have a plethora of great ideas available to you on the web.

Here is a sampling of the top ESL games for beginners.

  • Stop the Bus
  • Action Verbs Catching Game (online)
  • Bingo (With Free Custom Bingo Cards)

Want more?  Here are some of the best online resources we found for ESL Games:

  • The ESL Guy’s Youtube Channel
  • The Game Gal
  • ESL Kids Stuff
  • ESL Games Plus

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2 Responses

Great games, thanks for sharing

Wonderful! Thank you so much! I have quite a large stock of different activities for different ages, but it’s not too late to expand it, especially with games (my young students’ favorite pastime).

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ESL Worksheets, Lessons, and Curriculum

We have tons of FREE ESL resources for online and in-person classes, including ESL grammar, ESL phonics, ESL writing, adult ESL lessons, ESL idioms and phrasal verbs lessons, and ESL games and activities. We also offer several complete ESL textbooks available for purchase and instant download.

ESL Phonics

Short vowels, long vowels, digraphs – you name it! Several free, printable and downloadable ESL worksheets, a free alphabet e-book, and tons of free, printable flashcards and board games. Plus a complete downloadable Phonics Monster curriculum, full of stories, games, tongue twisters, and more!

ESL Dialogues

Several free, printable dialogues for all different levels, complete with discussion questions and sentence patterns. Plus a downloadable 3-book series of ESL dialogue e-books !

ESL Writing

Useful ESL worksheets for teaching writing, including error correction worksheets, transition worksheets, example essays and various writing assignments.

ESL Grammar Worksheets

Free, printable handouts and ESL worksheets to help teach parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and tenses (present tense, past tense, future tense, present continuous tense [a.k.a. present progressive tense], present perfect tense, present perfect continuous tense, past continuous tense, and more!! Plus a 3-book series of ebooks containing even more worksheets, available for instant download!

ESL Games and Activities

Simple games that can be inserted in a class at a moments notice. Little or no preparation required. Best of all…most of the games can be adapted to all levels. Includes games for both young (elementary) students and older high school students.

ESL Phrasal Verbs

Handouts introducing many commonly used phrasal verbs, with accompanying printable worksheets to review these phrasal verbs.

Printable lists of idioms arranged alphabetically, with explanations and worksheets. These are great for advanced classes!

Adult ESL Lessons

Several printable adult ESL worksheets and lessons, including a long reading passage, discussion and comprehension questions, and review activities. Arranged by beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Plus several activities and ideas for teaching ESL to adult students.

ESL Vocabulary

Vocabulary lists for intermediate and advanced students, including several example sentences, as well as worksheets, quizzes, and tests.

Jokes and Riddles

When yawning becomes a pastime, it’s time to bring some jokes or riddles into the classroom. These are simple and suitable jokes, and they’re pretty funny!

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ESL Interactive Games and Activities | Interactive ESL Lesson Ideas

Okay, so who doesn’t want more interaction in their ESL or EFL classes, right? That’s where these ESL interactive games and activities come in. They’re fun, engaging, and best of all, will get students interacting with you, and most importantly, each other. Keep on reading for some of my favourite interactive ESL Games.

ESL interactive game

Stay tuned for the best interactive ESL lesson plan ideas, tips, games and activities.

ESL Interactive Games, Activities, Worksheets and Lesson Plans

Are you ready for some ESL teaching awesome? Then let’s get to the best interactive ESL games and activities you’ll need to plan your lesson in style!

#1: ESL Board Games

Board games, by their very nature, are an interactive activity. Did you know that it’s extremely easy to design your own for your TEFL classes? You can easily make them for just about any topic or level of students in just a few minutes. I use them for review at the end of a unit, or as a review before the midterm or final exam.

A quick tip: You can often find board games in the teacher’s activity book that may come with your ESL textbook. Check there first before spending time making your own. Check them out here: Board Games for ESL Students.

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#2 ESL Interactive Vocabulary Game: Draw a Picture

If you’re teaching your students about ways to describe people, animals , objects, etc., then you may want to try out this fun and interactive ESL activity. The way it works is that you put students into pairs, and then show one of the people a secret picture. They have to describe the picture to their partner who can’t see it, and then they draw it. The results? Usually hilarious, so be sure to compare them with each other.

Find out more details here: Drawing a Secret Picture. 

#3: Taboo Interactive ESL Party Game

You’ve probably played taboo with friends or family somewhere along the line. You can also play it with your ESL/EFL students! Just be sure to use vocabulary words that they know, and/or that you’ve recently used in class. If you don’t remember what taboo is, basically you have to get your team to say a certain word by describing it. The catch is that you can’t use words from a certain list.

It’s a fun party game so try it out today: Taboo for English Learners .

ESL interactive games and activities

#4 ESL Interactive Game: Rock-Scissor-Paper

This is a fun ESL game that requires a ton of interaction between students. They NEED to talk with other people in order to complete the activity. It’s ideal for a quick review game before a test, or at the end of a unit. The way it works is that you make a set of questions/answers.

Then, separate them into strips of paper (questions and answers separately too). Give each student 4-5 papers and they have to find their match. Once they do, they do rock-scissor-paper and the winner takes both papers and gets a point.

Here’s everything you need to know about this interactive review game: Rocks-Scissor-Paper ESL Review Activity .

#5: Flip-Chart, an Interactive Vocabulary Review Game

If you teach beginners and are looking for a fun game to help students with new vocabulary, consider “flip-chart.” It’s an ideal way to round out a unit or to do some review before a vocabulary test.

Learn more here: Interactive ESL Vocabulary Game .

#6 Interactive ESL Game: Just a Minute

This is a fun ESL activity that focuses on speaking fluency. It works for just about any topic, is an ideal warm-up and it best for intermediate to advanced level students. The way it works is that students have to speak about a certain topic for one entire minute without stopping. The way you can make it interactive is to put students into groups of 4 or 5. The “listeners” have to ask 1-2 related follow-up questions after the person is finished talking.

Check it out here: Just a Minute ESL Warmer .

#7 ESL Interactive Game for Kindergarten: Flashcard Sentences

If you teach English to kindergarten students , but don’t have a set of flashcards, then you’ll need to get one ASAP! They are extremely versatile and lend themselves to a ton of different activities. My secret? You can often buy a matching set to go along with the textbook you are teaching from.

One of the simplest, interactive games you can do is to hold up a flashcard to each student. Then, they have to make a sentence with the picture. If correct, they keep the card. If incorrect, it goes back into the pile. Continue until the flashcards are gone.

More information here: Flashcard Sentences .

#8: Interactive Vocabulary Quiz (Name 5 Things)

#9 interactive activity for esl students: the hobby unit.

Let’s be real. Most teachers are pretty tired of teaching about “hobbies” and I’m sure most students feel the same way. It seems like every single English textbook out there has a unit on this. If you find one that doesn’t, please let me know!

In order to spice things up a bit, I like to do this interactive activity. Basically, each student has to teach their group how to do something. It could be how to make fried rice if their hobby is cooking. Or, how to kick a ball if they like soccer. Just something simple that they can teach someone in a couple of minutes.

Then, to make it more interactive, each student in the group has to ask 1-2 follow-up questions.

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)

Need more ideas for hobbies? Have a look here: ESL Hobbies Games .

#10 ESL Grammar Interactive Game: Can/Can’t

This is a fun, interactive game that you can use with your beginner level students when teaching about can/can’t. Students have to choose some secret nouns, and then give hints about it, using can/can’t. I prefer to have students write down the hints because it goes more smoothly than just having them think on their feet, especially if they are true beginners.

Check it out here: Can/Can’t ESL Game .

#11: ESL Christmas Interactive Games

Okay, so Christmas is just around the corner and you’re looking for some fun and engaging ESL games or activities to use with your students? Then you’re certainly in the right place.

Here are some of my favorites to try out today: Interactive ESL Christmas Activities

#12: Hot Potato Game for ELL Students

If you’re looking for an interactive ESL game that’s some pure fun and excitement, then you’ll want to consider Hot Potato. The way it works is that students pass around a “potato” and when the timer goes off, the person holding it has to do something. In my classes, it’s usually answering a question of some kind.

If you want to make it a little bit more interactive, you could consider requiring the person previously holding the potato to think of the question themselves instead of the teacher. More information here:

ESL Hot Potato Game .

  • 66 Pages - 11/06/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published...

#13 ESL Interactive Games: Charades

I’m ALL about having some fun party-type classes with my students to celebrate the end of a unit, an upcoming holiday like Halloween , or the end of the semester. One of my favourite interactive games that I like to play with them is charades. I’m sure you’ve played this with family or friends before.

The way it works is that you have to act out a secret word or phrase and your team has to guess what is it. Find out more about it right here:

Charades for ESL Students .

#14: Do you Like to?

This ESL interactive activity requires that students write down five facts about themselves on 5 strips of paper. The more unique, the better.

Then, you distribute the strips of paper to other students in the class who have to ask questions to find their matches. It’s a fun game that’s ideal for getting students to work on yes/no questions. Find out more about it right here:

Do you Like to ESL Speaking Activity ?

#15: Social Problems ESL Lesson Plan

One of the ways to foster interaction among English learners is to bring an interesting conversational topic into class and then let students get to talking! In particular, I like to use this social issues lesson plan because it’s engaging and almost all students have an opinion about things that are happening in the world around them.

Want to check it out for yourself? Have a look here:

Social Problems ESL Lesson Plan .

#16 Interactive ESL Activity: Discussion Starters for Children or Adults

One of the best ESL interactive activities is a straight-up discussion! I find that it’s best to offer students some discussion starters so that you’re not met with utter silence when you tell your students to start talking to each other!

Here are some of my top picks for interesting things your students could talk about:

Discussion Starters for Children

Discussion Starters for Adults

  • 148 Pages - 03/09/2016 (Publication Date)

#17: WH Questions Activities

Who, what, when, why, where, and how are by their very nature, interactive words. They are the start of a question in English, and you’ll probably want to have a partner to answer them, right?

There are a ton of interactive ESL games to practice W + H questions. You can see some of our top picks right here:

W/H Questions Games and Activities .

#18 ESL Interactive Activities for Giving Directions

Another topic that lends itself extremely well to interactive activities is giving directions. After all, you can’t give directions to yourself, right? Well, I guess you could in theory but it’d be a little bit weird!

The best directions activities are those with an information gap of some kind. By that, I mean where one student has the information another student needs. And, they have to interact with each other to find out what it is.

Do you want to know more? Then check this out: ESL Giving Directions Activities .

#19: Tips for Interactive Small Group Discussions

When students think of a conversation class, it’s often free-flowing discussions that they want. Or, if you like to have interactive discussions in your English classes, then you’ll want to check out these top tips for making them even better.

Maybe you’ve been met with blank stares and silence when everyone should be talking? Seriously, we’ve all been there and the good news is that it can be easily avoided These are the tips for you, so neglect them at your peril!

ESL Small Group Discussion Tips.

Get your interaction on!

#20: ESL Warmer Activities

#21: telephone esl speaking + listening game.

A fun game that you can play with kids or teens is telephone. The way it works is that you give the first student in the line a sentence or phrase. They pass that to the next person and so on until the end. At that point, their sentence is compared to the original.

The results? Usually really funny! Find out more about one of my favourite interactive games for ESL students:

Telephone ESL Listening/Speaking Game.

#22: Easy ESL Animals Quiz

#23: choose your own adventure group writing activity.

Interactive group writing activities are few and far between as writing is generally more of a solitary kind of activity. However, this is one of the best group writing activities that I’ve come across and I think your students will like it as much as mine.

This writing activity is engaging and very student-centred, so give it a try today! Find out more about it:

Choose your Own Adventure Group Writing Activity for English Learners .

  • 279 Pages - 07/12/2020 (Publication Date)

#24: Technology ESL Lesson Plan

One of my favourite interactive ESL activities is to put students into pairs or small groups and then give them an engaging lesson plan. This one about technology includes the following:

  • Warm-up question
  • Vocabulary, idioms, and phrases
  • Conversation questions
  • Writing prompts that are ideal for homework

Have a look right here:

Technology English Conversation Lesson Plan

Or, if you’re a teacher who is looking to level up their use of tech in the classroom, be sure to check this out:

Technology for Teaching English.

#25: Tell your Story: An Interactive Activity for Reported Speech

It’s not that easy to come up with interactive, fun reported speech activities, even though this grammar point comes up quite often in real life. So, it makes sense to practice it in class with our students and not just skip over that section in the book.

If you’re looking for an interactive, natural way to do it, then you’ll want to check out this activity: Tell your Story ESL Reported Speech Activity .

#26: Information Gap Activities

#27: vocab sheets.

A nice way to generate some conversation in English classes for intermediate or advanced learners is to use vocab sheets, along with the accompanying discussion questions. Find out more about them here:

TEFL Vocab Sheets .

#28: Whiteboard Games and Activities

Who says that the teacher is the only one that gets to write on the whiteboard? Have some fun with these interaction games that make use of the whiteboard:

ESL Whiteboard Games and Activities .

#29: Speaking Fluency Activity

#30: typhoon review game.

If you’re looking for an ESL review game that’s heavy on the fun, then consider playing Typhoon. Students of all ages love it and whenever I use it in class, students talk about it for weeks afterwards. It’s perfect to use in class before a midterm or final exam. Check out this ESL interactive game:

Typhoon ESL Review Game .

#31: Basketball ESL Challenge

If you’re looking for a fun activity for an interactive English lesson, then consider ESL basketball. It’s ideal for children and a nice way to review simple grammatical structures or vocabulary. Find out more about this interactive English activity here:

ESL Basketball Activity .

#32: Things to do on the First Day of Class

First Lesson Ideas for New English Teachers | ESL Icebreakers and Introduction Games

#33: Using Movies and TV Shows to Teach English

If you want to have an interactive English lesson, then seriously consider using TV shows or movie clips. Students generally love watching TV, so why not bring them into the TEFL classroom to generate some interest?

Find out more about interactive ESL lessons using movies here:

Movies and TV Shows for Learning English.

#34: TPR (Total Physical Response)

A fun, interactive teaching method is total physical response. The teacher says something and the students have to act it out. For example:

  • Touch your elbow.
  • Pick up your pencil.
  • Turn around.
  • Be quiet, please.

As you can see, it’s useful for a variety of kinds of vocabulary. Find out more:

What is TPR?

#35: Prepositions of Place Memory Quiz

Try out this simple memory game to work on prepositions:

#36: An English Debate

A fun way to get students to interact with each other, in English is to have a debate. The key is choosing a topic that they want to talk about. Here are some of the best ideas:

Good Debate Topics .

Pointless Things to Debate About .

#37: I’m Going on a Picnic

This is a simple, interactive game that focuses on noticing patterns. Find out all the details you need to know here:

ESL I’m Going on a Picnic .

#38: Me Too!

Try out this fun speaking and listening activity for beginners. Students have to say a true statement about themselves. For example:

  • I have a sister.
  • I love fruit.
  • My grandparents live with me.

If the statement is also true for other students in the class, they can stand up and say, “Me too!”

#39: Twenty Questions

What about esl interactive games for students.

If you’re looking for some interactive ESL games, then this isn’t the place for that! We specialize in games and activities for teachers to do with their students in the class.

However, here are some of our favourite sources of games for ESL students:

Games to Learn English

ESL Games World

A quick tip: Many of the major textbooks these days have web-based practice for students. This will often require a special code to get this up and running and some support from the admin at your institution as well. But, it’s often quite useful as far as teaching tools go, so it may be worth looking into.

Sure, they’re not ELL games so your students may not love them that much, but they do have the added benefit of corresponding to exactly what you teach in class. This fact alone makes it worth its weight in gold.

ESL Interactive Lesson Plans

Do you need some help with planning more interactive, communication-focused ESL lessons for kids or adults? Then you’ll most definitely need to check out some of our go-to sources for ESL lesson planning right here:

Task-Based Learning Lesson Plans

ESL Authority

How to Teach English Conversation?

Surprisingly, it’s possible to teach English conversation in a pretty non-interactive kind of way. Yes, I know. It seems actually difficult to do this, but many teachers do!

The goal of a conversation class is to make it as student-centred as possible. Your students should be doing all the hard work, not you. This means that if you have a class of more than say, four students, you’ll want to get them interacting and talking with each other, instead of with the entire class.

Here are some of my tips and tricks for how to make this happen: How to Teach English Conversation .

ESL Interactive activities and games.

ESL Interactive Games and Activities FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have about making their ESL lessons more interactive. Here are some of the answers to the most popular ones.

What is an interactive lesson?

An interactive lesson is one where students are able to participate in a number of ways. Students are able to engage with the material presented instead of just passively absorbing it, which can make it more memorable. This can happen in a classroom or  during homework activities.

How I encourage ESL students to participate?

If you want to encourage ESL students to participate in class and be more interactive, here are a few tips:

  • Use a wide variety of engaging ESL games and activities.
  • Consider group work and change the groups frequently.
  • Use some kind of reward system for good participation.
  • Use positive reinforcement
  • Have a friendly and upbeat demeanour in the classroom.
  • Try as much as possible to reduce teacher talking time.
  • Offer lots of support and opportunities for practice.

Why is interactive learning Better?

Interactive learning is a better choice for language learning because it emphasizes engagement and participation, which can result in better language gains. This style of teaching allows students to build their own definition and meaning of the presented material instead of just being spoon-fed information. This helps students take an active role in their own learning.

What are some interactive games?

Some interactive games to consider using for language learners are running dictation, dictogloss, speaking bingo, puzzle finders, surveys, board games, telephone, charades, and hot potato.

How can I make my lessons more interactive?

If you want to make your ESL lessons more interactive, consider the following things:

  • Use some mystery in your lessons (predictions, games, etc.).
  • Try to never repeat classroom materials in terms of topics.
  • Use lots of ESL games and activities
  • Allow students some degree or freedom (task-based learning activities for example)
  • Use technology.
  • Don’t take things too seriously!
  • Use context to relate any new material to students’ lives.

Did you like these ESL Interactive Games?

Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book over on Amazon: 71 ESL Interactive Games, Activities, and Teaching Tips. The key to better English lessons is a wide variety of interactional games and this book will help you get there in style.

You can find it in both digital and print formats. Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. Or, take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for some lesson planning on the go.

Whatever the case, get ready for some ESL teaching awesome in your life. Head over to Amazon to pick up your copy today:

Tips for Creating More Interaction in ESL Classes

Increasing interaction in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class is crucial for language development. Here are some tips to foster more interaction among students and between students and the teacher:

Create a Welcoming Environment

Build a safe and inclusive classroom where students feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Icebreakers and Warm-Up Activities

Start each class with icebreakers or warm-up activities that encourage students to interact and chat in English.

Pair and Group Work

Use pair and group activities frequently to promote interaction. Students can discuss topics, solve problems, or complete tasks together.

Role-Playing and Simulations

Engage students in role-play scenarios or simulations to practice real-life conversations and situations.

Discussion Prompts

Use thought-provoking questions or discussion prompts related to the lesson topic to spark conversations.


Ask a question, have students think about their answers individually, pair up to discuss, and then share their thoughts with the class.

Jigsaw Activities

Divide a larger task into smaller parts, assign each part to different groups, and then have groups share their findings with the whole class.

Debates and Discussions

Organize debates or class discussions on controversial or thought-provoking topics, allowing students to express their opinions.

Storytelling and Presentations

Encourage students to share personal stories or give presentations on topics of interest.

Language Games

Incorporate language games like word games, vocabulary bingo, or charades to make learning enjoyable and interactive.

Peer Teaching

Assign students to teach a concept or skill to their peers. This reinforces understanding and encourages interaction.

Collaborative Projects

Have students work on projects that require them to research, plan, and create together.

Utilize Technology

Integrate technology tools like discussion forums, language-learning apps, or video conferencing for virtual group activities.

Use Visual Aids

Incorporate visual aids, such as pictures, diagrams, and multimedia, to stimulate discussion and interaction.

Variety of Communication Modes

Encourage different types of interaction, including speaking, listening, reading, and writing, to develop all language skills.

Feedback and Correction

Provide constructive feedback on language use to guide students in improving their communication skills.

Rotate Seating Arrangements

Change seating arrangements regularly to mix students and encourage them to interact with different classmates.

Set Interaction Goals

Establish specific interaction goals for each lesson and celebrate when students meet these objectives.

Cultural Exchange

Incorporate discussions and activities that encourage students to share their cultural backgrounds and learn about each other’s cultures.

Model Interaction

As the teacher, actively participate in class discussions and model proper language use and communication skills.

Have your say about these ESL Interactive Games and Activities

What are your thoughts about these interactive ESL activities or games? Have you tried any of them out in your classes? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself, find this useful teaching resource.

Last update on 2024-04-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 100 books for English teachers and English learners, including 101 ESL Activities for Teenagers and Adults and 1001 English Expressions and Phrases . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook TikTok Pinterest Instagram

Thanks a lot for sharing those amazing ideas. I would like you to give me some advice about how to help weaker students. What skill do I have to focus on: speaking, reading, listening or reading? Thanks a lot for your advice and I appreciate any help that you can give me!

If your students can’t read well, then certainly focus on that at the start. It’s kind of the foundation for everything else that you’ll do in your class. However, if they can read well, then start with speaking. Most other things follow from there.

Great teaching tips! I love all of these ideas for interactive English lessons.

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in Icebreakers + Warm-Ups · Listening · Speaking

ESL Vocabulary Activities and Games | Fun TEFL Vocabulary Games

If you’re looking for some of the best ESL vocabulary activities or TEFL vocabulary games for kids as well as adults, then you’re in the right place. Keep on reading for our top picks for activities and games to help English learners with new vocab.

ESL vocabulary games and activities

One year when I was teaching university students in South Korea, I had to teach a “vocabulary” class at a camp. I never taught vocabulary before, so it was a bit challenging to say the least! However, I used a variety of vocabulary activities for ESL students and had some great results!

I knew that it had the potential to be a very boring class. Or, it could be quite decent! I wanted to make it painless for my students, so I spent lots of time finding fun, interesting ESL vocabulary activities. Here are a few of my favourites.

I hope you enjoy them and also find them useful. Remember that the key to an excellent English class is to mix things up a bit and keep it fun for the students you’re teaching.

ESL Vocabulary Activities and Games

If you want to make vocabulary memorable and fun for your students, be sure to try out these ESL vocabulary activities for adults. They’re guaranteed to take teaching vocabulary from the normally tedious to fun, engaging, and awesome.

#1: Concentration Memory Game

This is a classic ESL vocabulary activity that works well if you want your students to focus solely on words and definitions. This is the first step before you get into activities that focus more on using the words in a real-life conversation or in writing of some kind.

Learn more here: Concentration Memory Game for ESL Students.

  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Bolen, Jackie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 57 Pages - 10/26/2015 (Publication Date)

#2: Apples to Apples ESL Vocabulary Game

This is one of the best games for having some fun with vocabulary. You can make your own set of cards focusing on whatever you’re teaching that week, or you can buy the ready-made game from Amazon. Perfect for busy teachers! It really does make an excellent activity for a game-day in your ESL classes.

Check it out here: Apples to Apples for English Learners .

#3: Typhoon

A nice way to review about kind of English vocabulary is with the typhoon game. It’s a fun game for all ages!

Please enable JavaScript

#4: Word Association

One of my favorite ways to introduce a new unit in the textbook is to use this word association activity. It makes a great warm-up because it’s an excellent way to activate the student’s prior knowledge. Setting the context is key to having a successful lesson and using this activity is one great way to do just that.

Find out how to do it here: Word Association Vocabulary Activity .

#5: Dictogloss

In terms of ESL vocabulary activities for adults, you’re not going to get better than dictogloss. It has an element of cooperation, an element of competition, and provides a serious challenge for your students.

It’s so great because it encourages students to use alternative words if the one that you said isn’t accessible to them for some reason. This is what students need to do in real life so give them some practice doing it in class.

Find out more about this classic, 4-skills ESL game here: Dictogloss.

  • 123 Pages - 06/18/2021 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

#6: Flip-Chart Vocabulary Review Game

If you want to have a bit of fun while reviewing some new vocabulary words, look no further than this flip-chart game. It works well for any age group or level so try it out in your class today and make learning English vocabulary awesome!

Interested in using it in your TEFL classes? Learn more about it here: Vocabulary Review Game .

#7: The A to Z Vocab Game

If you’re looking for a quick, simple warmer that requires nothing in the way of materials or preparation, then you’ll definitely want to consider the AtoZ game. It’s an ideal way to help students activate their prior knowledge about a certain topic.

For example, if you’re teaching a unit about jobs, weather, or animals, chances are that your students have already studied this multiple times in the past. The way it works is that students need to think of a word related to the topic that begins with each of these letters in a certain amount of time.

More details here: The A to Z ESL Game.

Vocabulary activities for ESL students

#8: Word Challenge ESL Vocabulary Activity

If you want to review key vocabulary words, then you’ll want to consider this ESL spelling activity. The way it works is that students race to write words on the whiteboard with the correct spelling. Want to give it a try in your classes? You can find out all the details here:

ESL Word Challenge Spelling Game .

  • 108 Pages - 08/26/2021 (Publication Date)

#9: Fly Swatter Game

If you want to create some fun and excitement in your classes during an ESL vocabulary lesson, then consider trying out the fly swatter game. The way it works is that you write a bunch of new words on the board and then give hints. The first person to slap the correct word gets a point for their team.

There are lots of different variations of this fly swat game beyond this very basic version. Learn more about it here:

Fly Swat Game .

#10: TEFL Vocabulary Games

#11: odd one out vocab game esl.

If you’re looking for a fun, quick way to review English vocabulary, then you’ll want to consider Odd One Out. The way it works is that you write groups of 4 words on the board and one of them is the odd one out. For example:

  • Banana, carrot, orange, grapes

Students have to choose which one doesn’t belong and say why. There are many possible answers but the obvious one is carrot because it’s a vegetable and not a fruit. Want to know more? Check out all the details here:

Odd One Out Game .

#12: Dictation Practice

Another great to review new vocabulary words for English learners is to do some dictation. Besides vocabulary, this activity is heavy on the listening and writing skills, as well as punctuation, syntax and spelling. Want to give it a try with your students? Here are the tips you need for getting started:

ESL Dictation Activity .

Vocabulary activities and games for ESL

#13: Journaling for ESL

A nice way to have students keep new vocabulary words fresh is to have them keep a journal. It’s possible to assign this as a homework assignment or take a few minutes at the beginning or end of class for it. If you want students to focus on certain new words, assign topics well and it’ll likely happen naturally. Learn more about this ESL writing activity here:

Journaling for ESL Learners .

#14: Speaking Fluency Activity

#15: listening for one specific thing.

A nice way to review some key vocabulary words is to find a listening passage that contains them in it. Then, have students listen for these key words. Want to know more about how to do this with your students? Get all the details here:

ESL Listening—1 Specific Thing .

  • 76 Pages - 11/28/2015 (Publication Date)

#16: ESL Surveys

If you ask my students, they’ll tell you how much I love surveys. Not only are they an excellent vocabulary activity for ESL but they also cover a range of other skills. Plus, they get students up and out of their seats, moving around the classroom.

The best part is that they can be used for basically any grammar point or topic. Check them out here:

ESL Surveys .

#17: Use an ESL Warmer

#18: eliciting in an esl vocab lesson.

Unless your students are absolute beginners, they likely already know a number of vocabulary words related to whatever the topic of the day is. In this case, consider eliciting some of them from the students! There are two main reasons to do this.

The first reason is that it’s easier to tailor the rest of the lesson to words that students don’t know, instead of ones that they do. Secondly, activating prior knowledge that students may have about a topic makes it easier for them to learn new words. Find out more details about how to do it:

ESL Eliciting Tips .

#19: TEFL Board Games

#20: tv esl lesson plan.

It’s best to teach new vocabulary that is related to each other. This makes them far more memorable than it is to just teach random words. One of the best ways to do this is to use a topical lesson plan.

Here’s my favourite style of a lesson, complete with warmer questions, vocabulary challenge, idioms and phrases, conversation questions and some writing prompts:

ESL TV Conversation Lesson Plan .

Like this lesson plan? It’s from this book:

  • 279 Pages - 07/12/2020 (Publication Date)

#21: Mystery Box 

This ESL vocabulary game for kids is a great way to add a bit of excitement and fun into your classes! Put in some common objects that students know the words for. Then, they have to answer some questions and make some guesses about what’s in there.

Find out all the details about it:

ESL Mystery Box Activity.

#22: 20 Questions 

#23: idiom vocabulary activity for esl.

Idioms are a special kind of vocabulary and are very common in the English language. However, they can sometimes be a bit difficult for our students to remember and then use them correctly. This activity changes that! It’s fun, entertaining and also makes idioms very memorable so that students will never forget them. Find out all the information about how to do it:

ESL Idiom Activity .

Also check out: Top 10 Idioms in the USA .

#24: Brainstorming Games

It’s often the case that unless students are total beginners, they’re studied many of the same topics previously. In this case, consider using a brainstorming activity that will help students activate their prior knowledge. This will help new things to stick better. Another situation in which to use them is for a review activity at the end of class to reinforce knowledge learned. All the details are here:

Brainstorming Activities for Students .

#25: Current Events Conversation Lesson

If you want to help students with their vocabulary in a big way, why not talk about some current events? Changes are, there are a whole bunch of words that they don’t know. However, being able to converse freely about what’s in the news lately can be really helpful for our students in a variety of situations.

Have a look here at this lesson plant that I put together for this:

ESL Current Events Lesson .

#26: Business English Vocabulary

If you teach business people, then consider helping them with business English expressions, idioms and phrases. Check out this book for some American English dialogues for a variety of business situations  and scenarios.

  • 128 Pages - 11/25/2020 (Publication Date)

#27: ESL Directions Games and Activities

A key vocabulary set for beginners to learn is related to giving and getting directions. If students are going to travel outside of their home country, it’s certainly a valuable thing for them to know! Here are some of the top picks:

ESL Directions .

#28: Name 5 Things Vocabulary Quiz

#29: word category games.

When teaching vocabulary, I like to focus on categories of words like jobs, animals, food, etc. This makes new words far more memorable than just random words that aren’t connected in any way. For some of the best ideas for this type of lesson, have a look here:

Word Category Games .

#30: Closest in Meaning

If you want to review some English vocab, consider trying out this simple reading activity. Students have to read the original sentence and then choose another sentence that most closely matches that one. It’s a nice warmer activity to review new words from previous classes. Check it out:

Closest in Meaning Reading Activity .

#31: Advanced English Conversation Dialogues

  • 66 Pages - 11/06/2020 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

One of the best ways to help students learn more phrases and idioms in American English is to pick up this book. It has hundreds of them, taught through dialogues and then a practice exercise. Help your students speak more fluently!

#32: TEFL Clothes Quiz

#33: once in a blue moon lesson plan.

A nice way to teach English phrases and expressions is through a lesson plan like this one. It’s for higher-level students and can be done in class, or as a self-study assignment. Check it out here:

Once in a Blue Lesson ESL Lesson Plan .

#34: Offering Help English Phrases and Dialogues

  • 142 Pages - 11/22/2020 (Publication Date)

Of course, ESL vocabulary is far more than just single words, out of context. Much of English can be found in phrases, expressions, idioms, phrasal verbs, collocations , etc. That’s why it’s useful to teach our students these things too!

Here’s one example of a small lesson for teaching about offering help:

Common English Phrases for Offering Help .

#35: Chain Spelling 

A nice vocabulary activity ESL is this chain spelling game. It’s simple, requires nothing in the way of preparation or materials, and is a perfect way to review spelling.

The way it works is that everyone stands up and then you say a target vocabulary word. The students take turns spelling it, letter by letter and if someone misses, they are out and have to sit down. Continue playing until only 1-2 people are left standing.

#36: Hot Potato

#37: scatter sheets for beginner to intermediate english learners.

A nice way for students to learn more vocab is to use these scatter sheets. They’re a no-prep solution that you can just print off and take to class. Want to find out more? Have a look right here:

ESL Scatter Sheets .

#38: ESL Emotion Activities

I love to teach students how to express their feelings and emotions in English. Have a look here at some of the best ways to do that:

ESL Emotion Activities.

#39: I’m an Alien

Try out this fun way to elicit words from students that they may already know.

#40: Round Robin Story

Making a story is a really nice way to use a bunch of new vocabulary! Have a look here for all the details you need to know:

ESL Round Robin Story Activity .

#41: Have a Debate

A nice way for students to learn a bunch of new vocab about a topic is to do a debate in class. There are lots of fun ideas for a variety of ages and levels. Have a look right here:

Easy Topics to Debate .

Funny Controversial Topics .

#42: Jigsaw (Information Gap) Activities

#43: vocabulary poster.

Generate a list of vocabulary you want your students to remember no matter what. Assign one word per student. Each student has to be the master of the assigned word and must create a vocabulary poster consisting of a drawing and a sentence using the word. These posters can be used to decorate the classroom wall.

#44: Shape Names with Pictures

Learning the shapes is a nice option for beginners. Check out this article for some pictures and names:

Shapes name with pictures in English .

Teaching English Vocabulary FAQs

There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching English vocabulary. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

How do ESL Students Practice Vocabulary?

There are a number of ways for ESL students to practice vocabulary , including the following:

  • keeping context in mind
  • teaching-related vocabulary
  • conversation
  • practicing online

What are some Fun Ways to Teach Vocabulary?

There are a number of fun ways to teach vocabulary, including games and activities like Mad Lib, Running Dictation, Spelling Race, Apples to Apples and Dictogloss.

What is a Vocabulary Activity?

A vocabulary activity is something that helps students learn new terms and words in context. The best ones allow for the repetition of these new words in order to make them more memorable.

What is the Best Way to Test Vocabulary for ESL?

There are a number of ways to test vocabulary for ESL including simple translations into the first language or matching the word with a definition. However, the best way to test vocab is within a context, either placing the word in a sentence or having students write their own sentences.

Why do we Teach Vocabulary?

Without a basic working vocabulary, it’s impossible to understand anything you’re hearing or reading. That’s why it’s vital to teach vocabulary to language learners.

How can I Teach New Words to Children?

What are some tips for teaching new vocabulary to english learners.

Teaching new vocabulary to English learners requires careful planning and consideration. Here are some effective tips to help you teach vocabulary in a way that enhances understanding and retention:

  • Contextualize the Vocabulary : Introduce new vocabulary within a meaningful context that is relevant to the learners’ lives and experiences. Use visuals, real-life examples, stories, or situations to help students connect the words to their existing knowledge and make the learning more meaningful.
  • Use Visuals and Realia : Supplement verbal explanations with visual aids such as pictures, flashcards, or objects related to the vocabulary. Visuals help create mental associations between the word and its meaning, making it easier for students to remember and understand the new vocabulary.
  • Provide Clear Definitions : Offer clear and concise definitions of new words in simple language that matches the learners’ proficiency level. Use examples, synonyms, or gestures to help students grasp the meaning of the word in context.
  • Use Context Clues : Teach students to use context clues to infer the meaning of unfamiliar words. Encourage them to look for surrounding words, phrases, or sentences that provide hints about the word’s meaning. This strategy fosters independent vocabulary learning and develops reading comprehension skills.
  • Teach Word Families and Word Forms : Introduce related words that belong to the same word family or share the same root. Teach different forms of the word (noun, verb, adjective, adverb) to expand students’ understanding and usage of vocabulary in various contexts.
  • Practice with Contextualized Sentences : Provide students with model sentences that demonstrate the correct usage of the new vocabulary. Engage students in activities where they can practice using the words in meaningful sentences. This helps reinforce understanding and encourages active usage of the vocabulary.
  • Offer Multiple Exposure and Repetition : Present new vocabulary multiple times and in various contexts to enhance retention. Use different activities, games, or exercises to revisit the words over time. Repetition helps reinforce vocabulary and solidify students’ understanding.
  • Encourage Active Engagement : Engage students in interactive activities that require them to actively use and apply the new vocabulary. Role-plays, discussions, group work, or hands-on tasks encourage students to actively participate and practice using the words in authentic contexts.
  • Provide Opportunities for Personalization : Encourage students to relate new vocabulary to their own lives, experiences, or interests. Ask them to create personal connections, share personal stories, or write sentences using the vocabulary in their own context. Personalization enhances relevance and helps students internalize the words.
  • Review and Recycling : Schedule regular vocabulary review sessions to reinforce previously taught words. Incorporate vocabulary games, quizzes, or flashcard activities to make the review process interactive and engaging.
  • Use Technology and Online Resources : Explore online resources, vocabulary-building apps, or interactive websites that offer engaging activities and exercises for vocabulary development. Digital tools can provide additional practice opportunities and cater to different learning styles.

Remember to consider the learners’ proficiency level, age, and individual needs when planning vocabulary instruction. By incorporating these tips, you can make vocabulary learning more enjoyable, meaningful, and effective for English learners.

Have Your Say about ESL Vocabulary Exercises and Games

What are some of your favorite activities or games to help your students remember English vocabulary more easily? Leave a comment below and share your top tips with us. We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself, find this useful teaching resource.

Last update on 2022-07-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

You can find her on social media at: YouTube Facebook Pinterest TikTok LinkedIn Instagram

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Number Dyslexia

10 Interesting ESL Games And Activities For Adults

English as a second language (ESL) is important among non-native speakers owing to the significance of English at the global level. Not only children, but non-native adults also need it as a part of their profession. Strategies like board and online games can be accompanied by classroom or practice activities to make learning easy. 

The list of offline games and activities listed here are great take-ins for adult learners. Even with minor changes, try implementing these in your workplace or home to see a good difference in your English skills.

ESL games and activities- Crafted for adults 

1. partner up .

Partner up

Adults are provided with a few lines of dialogue which they need to complete with their creativity.

  • To start with, teachers come up with a topic 
  • They choose a couple of students and ask them to talk about the same
  • They are given some time to think and prepare for the activity. 
  • They can retain a few insights and deliver their discussion to the rest of the class after they’re ready. 

It’s an admirable method for kids to be more creative while yet providing enough structure for newcomers. Grown-ups will have the confidence to speak up through this activity.

2. News and Read

News and Read

To ensure a definitive practice session before or after a lecture, this exercise can be opted. The activity is all about converting all announcements and news into text format to ensure a reading session. 

  • To start with, the teacher lists out the set of announcements and news that are to be declared in the classroom. Now, these are written/printed in a listed form on paper. 
  • At the end of class, this sheet is handed over to one student. 
  • The learner reads out the first bullet to the class and handovers to the neighbor
  • The second one reads out the next point to the class
  • The cycle continues till all points are read out.
  • Now, the one who reads the news headline needs to write the whole news in their own words just like a journalist and submit it to the teacher for feedback. 

Since not all may get a chance to read in one day, the same can be continued to the next day with a new set of announcements. This effortless activity gives an additional chance to read out English. Further, it also ensures confidence in learners.

3. Extempore 


This activity lets the learners focus on their speaking skills. 

  • To start, write a number of topics on the whiteboard. 
  • The students will then have to talk for a whole one minute or two minutes.
  • One by one it takes turns to come over the stage and speak a few words on one topic. These are inferences from the discussion that just took place.
  • The best speech can be declared the winner. 

Raising a discussion is easy. Nonetheless, turning it into valuable time is important, and this activity ensures the same. Apart from better English communicative skills, social abilities and engagement are often added edges 

4. Chain it up

Chain it up

Grouped practice can make activities much more interesting. This activity ensures learners form a chain of words with guidelines.

  • The teacher takes a piece of paper and writes a word on it to start with.  Say, “Letter”
  • Now, hand over this paper to the first student. This learner needs to write a word starting with ‘R’, as the previous word ends with it. Say they wrote “Rabbit”
  • Next, the second learner takes the paper to write a word that starts with “T”, the last letter of Rabbit.
  • This cycle continues till all the students have addressed it. To make it complicated and lengthy, the paper is brought back to the first student to start the cycle again. 

This chain can be formed of any length based on time. As the instructor may ask them to come up with a unique word every time, the learners can brainstorm and learn new words for the game, making it effective to learn English.

5. Re-narrate

Listening to learn employs audio cues, this strategy can be crafted into an interesting activity.

  • To start, the teacher prepares an English story in 3-4 lines. In class, they narrate this story snippet in a proper pace that pupils can easily interpret. 
  • Later, they start narrating another snippet of the story and stop in the middle.
  • A student is called upon and is asked to finish the story. They can finish the story in their own words. 
  • Similarly, another student is called upon to give an alternative ending for it. 

This activity lets the pupils understand the language before speaking, Also they get a chance to speak about ensuring English practice.

6. ESL surveys

Surveys in English as a Second Language (ESL) are exercises that move the attention away from the teacher and onto the students.

  •   Learners are asked to read particular questions, which are addressed to them,
  •  Then they must respond to the questions while taking notes with reference to the answers.
  • These activities are designed to help students improve their reading, listening, speaking, and writing abilities simultaneously.

It’s a game that mimics what happens in real life, in which they have to focus in different things at a single time. Students can wander around the room and chat with their peers during surveys, which encourages engagement and better vocabulary as they interact.

7. Finding new words

Finding new words

  •  In this game, the instructor or the teacher chooses a difficult-to-understand word or term.  
  • Following the selection of the word, each student should write the definition of the term on a sheet of paper. 
  • After that, all of the papers should be gathered, and all of the definitions are read out to the class so that students can vote on which definition they believe is accurate. 
  • Students gain points if they know the proper definition or if their definition is voted as the best. 

This game enhances the vocabulary of students allowing them to learn many new words. It will also generate a sense of competitiveness among them as they will want to win this game.

8. Role play activity

Role play activity

This activity lets the learners indulge in a scene so that they can act and talk in English. 

  • To start, teachers prepare a simple script for the learners
  • Each student is selected for a character and each one is provided with the script
  • Now, to start the play they can hold their dialogue sheets and start with role-playing
  • The one who performs well is declared the best MR/MS ESL of the day.

This activity not only focuses on the betterment of vocabulary but also emphasizes the accent and culture of English. This way, non-native speakers get a chance to traverse English contexts easily. 

9. Share Hub

Share Hub

Sharing experiences can improve insights on a topic. This activity gets learners a chance to dive into a topic and share insights and tips. 

  • To start with, the teacher procures a set of papers and writes one topic on each of it
  • They form chits out of them and place them in a box. 
  • One student is called upon and is asked to shuffle them. Now, they take out one chit and read out the topic. Say “Reading from websites”
  • This student shares one tip, insight, or an experience of how to read from websites easily and goes back to their position
  • The second student comes up and narrates their insights
  • This cycle continues till all students are covered. 

By the end of this activity, apart from learning English, every student can be backed up by an overflow of tips, which they may find useful later.. 

10. Taboo Activity

Taboo Activity

  • To start with, the leader procures a set of cards with four words written on them.
  •  One player in the game has a card with four words on it: The first word in the phrase is “secret.” 
  • The objective of the game is for the player to decipher the main word. Until another student names the term, the student holding the card must describe it as creatively as possible.
  • The other three words on the card are the more obvious alternatives for describing the hidden word. They’re all “taboo,” and the student can’t use them in his or her explanation of the secret phrase.

This is a game that may be played by two teams. It may also be played with two people. It motivates students to learn new words while having fun.

Other resources for building English fluency – Easy tips to accompany these activities

The activities and games stated above often facilitate English learning by offering a sense of real-life cues and also create a value-creating pass time. These exercises can be accompanied by some personal level tips to make learning further effective. Here are a few of our working suggestions:

  • English learning Websites: After the class or in leisure time, if you want to do a quick practice, or want to bridge some personal gaps for the next lectures, opting for a good accompanying website is a good idea. These are often free and easy to use. 
  • Youtube Channels : There are a few channels on google’s video platform that offer reliable training on grammar. These may not be a complete training session, but these multimedia snippets offer pieces of crucial information.
  • Online and board games: English learning games are available in both board and online formats. These can help learners to make our training sessions interesting at a personal level as well. Try these after the activity to make sure you have mastered concepts.  

When learning a second language, especially English, non-native speakers may feel arduous to start with. As a result, every instructor should integrate games into ESL sessions to make learning more enjoyable and less stressful. In other words, ESL activities and games help adult ESL students gain confidence.

We hope you find this selection of adult ESL games useful and that you enjoy playing them in your English classroom! When you attempt anything new, make a note of how it goes over with your students so you can figure out what they enjoy and use that information to drive future decisions.

Manpreet Singh

An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having  just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of  Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’, 

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Students Target Teachers in Group TikTok Attack, Shaking Their School

Seventh and eighth graders in Malvern, Pa., impersonating their teachers posted disparaging, lewd, racist and homophobic videos in the first known mass attack of its kind in the U.S.

With her back to the camera, Patrice Motz faces a tall, solid fence. She and foliage cast shadows on the gray surface.

By Natasha Singer

Natasha Singer, who covers technology in schools, reported from Malvern, Pa. She welcomes reader tips at .

In February, Patrice Motz, a veteran Spanish teacher at Great Valley Middle School in Malvern, Pa., was warned by another teacher that trouble was brewing.

Some eighth graders at her public school had set up fake TikTok accounts impersonating teachers. Ms. Motz, who had never used TikTok, created an account.

She found a fake profile for @patrice.motz, which had posted a real photo of her at the beach with her husband and their young children. “Do you like to touch kids?” a text in Spanish over the family vacation photo asked. “Answer: Sí.”

In the days that followed, some 20 educators — about one quarter of the school’s faculty — discovered they were victims of fake teacher accounts rife with pedophilia innuendo, racist memes, homophobia and made-up sexual hookups among teachers. Hundreds of students soon viewed, followed or commented on the fraudulent accounts.

In the aftermath, the school district briefly suspended several students, teachers said. The principal during one lunch period chastised the eighth-grade class for its behavior.

The biggest fallout has been for teachers like Ms. Motz, who said she felt “kicked in the stomach” that students would so casually savage teachers’ families. The online harassment has left some teachers worried that social media platforms are helping to stunt the growth of empathy in students. Some teachers are now hesitant to call out pupils who act up in class. Others said it had been challenging to keep teaching.

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