Present Simple ESL Games and Activities for Adults • Grade University

6 Present Simple Games & Activities to Spice Up Your Lessons

6 Present Simple Games & Activities to Spice Up Your Lessons


  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

⭐️ Easy as it may seem, teaching Present Simple is always a challenge. The material might not be so difficult itself. But the  insignificant amount of experience your students have with a language plays its role. Therefore, you are likely to explain certain things multiple times just to come across the same mistakes. 

This article will be especially helpful for everyone who has already run out of ideas on how to make their  Present Simple lessons more effective and fun. We are going to talk about games and activities for the Present Simple tense effective explanation, practice, and revision.

Why should we contextualize grammar?

Games to learn Present Simple

Nobody would be surprised to learn that ESL games do enhance the quality of both teaching new material and practicing it

Students stop thinking of how difficult the material is and focus on becoming the winner by completing a certain set of steps. Of course, you can use it for the benefit of Present Simple teaching. 


Each student gets a grid and has to ask and answer Present Simple questions to collect five “yes” in five squares in a row.

Create a set of various questions that may help people to know each other better. Assign every student a five-by-five grid, and then write the questions on the board. 

Students should randomly place a question in each of the spaces, leaving the middle square empty. After that, they have to interact and ask each other one question before moving on to the next question and the next partner. 

A student has to make notes in the square every time their partner’s answer is "yes" for any given question on the grid. The winner is the first person to get five squares in a row.

This is one of the many ESL games on Present Simple that makes students drill questions and answers in a fun way while speaking and having fun in general.


Students get the prompts to create Present Simple statements. They either do it correctly or skip their step if they are not sure, as each incorrect sentence reduces the whole amount of points in half. The team that gets the most correct answers and the biggest number  of points wins.

The teacher is supposed to prepare a set of prompts for creating Present Simple statements. The prompts shouldn’t be too easy and are supposed to provoke some critical and creative thinking

For example, they may look in the following way: Mary/Jake/like/listen/music/folk/Scottish.

You can definitely sort them according to the difficulty level where the easiest prompts would be at the beginning of the task and the most challenging ones at the end.

Afterwards, share them with your students. You may use a blackboard or a screen for that. Students, divided into groups, have to take turns and create the correct true sentences using the prompts

However, they can do it ONLY if they are sure the answer is correct. Otherwise, they are going to lose half of all the points for giving an incorrect answer. 

Therefore, it might be more reasonable to “be a chicken” and miss the step by giving another team a chance to create their sentence. The group that gets the most points by  the end of the game wins.

This is an excellent drilling game on Present Simple that  always makes the lesson fun and effective due to its competitiveness.

Reading vs literacy skills

Learn the difference with us

Traveling Quiz Show

Students share their ideas on the place they would like to visit without naming it. All other students are supposed to ask Present Simple questions till they guess the name of the place.

In this case, students have to think of a place they would like to visit. After the class comes up with an idea, they have to write down several (5 or more) associations with a chosen place. Then, students share their answers with their classmates.

Based on the list of associations, students take turns asking Present Simple questions about the place. 

It is a great way to practice all possible question types including to-be questions and questions with another verb, as well as practice speaking in general.

Dreaming about teaching abroad?

Activities to practice Present Simple

It’s true that Present Simple games always add a bit of fun to the lessons. However, it is always a good idea to implement some unusual activities as well. 

Here are some ideas on Present Simple activities:

Culture Quizz

Students ask questions about the local culture of their classmates and then present their findings to the group.

This activity is perfect to fit in among some Present Simple games for adults, especially if you are teaching in the culturally diverse environment

You may divide your students in pairs or small groups and ask them to create a kind of interview to get to know their partner better. 

Students can ask about family traditions, native cities, festival food, fav national holidays, best local authors, etc. All of these questions are supposed to be asked with the correct Present Simple questions, of course. 

After your students collect enough information about each other, they have to present the results to their group

The presentations usually turn out to be interesting and engaging experiences that help to break the ice as well as practice grammar.

Question chain

Students take turns to create questions and answers one by one using the correct Present Simple.

Students gather in a circle. The first person has to come up with a question. Then, they choose the next person who is supposed to answer the question and create their own. 

Therefore, the activity may look in the following way:

Student A: Does your sister like cooking?

Student B: No, she doesn’t cook. Do you have a favorite recipe?

Student C: Yes, I like cooking pizza.


The activity goes on.

This is a simple but effective activity for the Present Simple tense. It is helpful to drill both questions and affirmative/negative sentences. Plus, students get to know each other better.

What types of drilling are there?

Good boy

Students create boastful statements with the correct Present Simple.

This is probably one of the funniest Present Simple activities on the list.

Up until someone gives up or says what their partner has already said, students take turns bragging about how lucky, hardworking, helpful, ecologically friendly, etc. they are with statements like "I run 50 km every morning." 

It should be encouraged for them to lie or exaggerate! The aim is to not repeat the previous brags and compose the correct sentences. You may also try giving students a variety of topics to brag about; for example, they may brag about one topic until someone wins.

Needless to say, this activity is extremely funny and makes everybody laugh, so it’s perfect if you want to finish the lesson on a positive note.

Tips on teaching Present Simple

Expect the problems and hit the first

As you do Present Simple activities with beginners, it is not hard to predict such possible mistakes:

  • use of ‘s’ in the third person
  • use of an auxiliary verb in the affirmative sentence
  • inserting of ‘to be’ where it’s not necessary
  • placement of adverbs of frequency.

Therefore, if you know what the potential problems are, you may easily design the Present Simple games and activities to attract attention to these issues specifically

In this way, your students are going to be armed with knowledge and aware of where mistakes are likely to occur.

Correct students' mistakes with ease

Drill A LOT

The golden rule of planning Present Simple activities for beginners is to never underestimate how crucial the drilling is.

The thing is that your students only start their ESL journey, so everything moves pretty fast, and they generally may feel a bit overwhelmed.

Therefore, always drill. Even if your students say “it’s clear”, even if they “have no questions”, make them show it

At this level, they are unable to reflect on how clear everything is and whether they indeed have no questions. Questions occur constantly, and your task is to predict them and make students practice as much as possible to really remember the rules and be able to use them no matter what.

Get TEFL-certified

The lack of experience and prior practice with beginners may turn teaching even the most basic rules into a great challenge.

If you want to be able to think ahead, see where the problems may come from, design effective lessons and fulfill students’ needs without stress, you have to get TEFL-certified.

Don’t worry if you can’t enroll in  an offline course. Nowadays, studying and improving your skills has become much easier thanks to online TEFL classes

Once you meet other inspired professionals and get even more valuable recommendations, you will never have to worry about the effectiveness of your Present Simple teaching again!

Learn everything about TEFL


Which of these games can we play online?

Almost any game can be played online if you possess  enough digital literacy skills. You may place your ideas on various online boards or divide students into teams, giving them the opportunity to compete with each other through Kahoot or Quizizz. 

If you are not sure how to handle all the online tools, you may start with the following article. 

Great online tools for you!

What should I do if one student isn’t keen on playing games?

Presenting simple games for adults is an issue that is not always easy to deal with. To begin with, ask why they have all these negative emotions. They might carry a traditional educational background, for instance. 

If this is the case, show how beneficial games can be. You can even try going into some methodological explanations or advise some reading. 

The student’s disbelief comes from a certain narrow-mindedness that you have to influence. 

How to create thought-provoking questions?

It might be hard indeed to create good questions all the time. However, you don’t really have to anymore. Various AI tools have recently gained popularity for doing this work instead of the teacher. 

If you are new to the topic of AI, Grade University has collected the most useful and trustworthy tools.

Get the most uselful AI-powered tools

Do you need to drill a lot with the Present Simple learners?

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko


    Teacher of General English & IELTS



Leave your comment