Top 5 activities to expand English vocabulary for your lessons

Activities and games to improve your students' vocabulary

Activities and games to improve your students' vocabulary


  • Vocabulary
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

You must know a certain amount of words in order to master any language. This serves as the foundation upon which we can study phonetics and grammar. The emotional component has a major impact on how well vocabulary is learned too. 

Thankfully, the days when the teacher would only give the class a list of new terms and check to see if they recalled them in the following lesson are long gone.

Modern education is developing keeping the effectiveness of learning in mind, therefore more new techniques and methods oriented to the needs of students are appearing. Exercises, games, and other activities that help students better understand and assimilate new content develop as a result.

Such lexical games as Hangman, Word Search, Crosswords, Scrabble, Word Map, Word Taboo, or Heads Up (the vocabulary variant of the game Who am I?), are already actively used by many teachers. 

We are offerring 5 additional engaging vocabulary-expansion tasks today. Try fresh approaches to spice up your classes and encourage pupils to pick up more vocabulary!

Unlock the secrets to successful reading lessons

Vocabulary Pictionary

In the charades game of Pictionary, players draw words rather than acting them out.

What rules do we play by?

  • Team up the group members.
  • Pick a team member to draw for each round.
  • Give them a term to depict.
  • To guess the word, give the other team members up to 60 seconds.
  • If a team makes a guess, it receives one point.
  • By guessing a term, you can allow other teams to “steal” a point. Then, proceed to the next team and the next word.

As players hunt for correlations with the word in the picture, the game is a fantastic way to practise learning new words. To play Pictionary online draw on the virtual board in your web conferencing program.

Word Association

Word association: Since it doesn’t demand students to have a broad vocabulary, this game is among the greatest for teaching kids. There are simple and obvious rules. Divide the students into pairs because there are often two players in the game.

What rules do we play by?

  • The first participant says the word.
  • The second player responds by stating the first association term that comes to mind.
  • The first participant either selects a new term or reacts to the second participant’s word.
  • The game goes on until someone says the word again or takes an extended break.

Best games for recycling vocabulary

6 options

The game moves quickly, which is fun and occasionally yields humorous solutions. The teacher can stop the game if a student makes a mistake and instruct them to clarify or come up with a better word. Although there are no incorrect answers in the Word Association game, it teaches students to pick better words.

When playing online using Zoom, the first participant — usually the teacher — says the word, and the other players respond in the chat window. The group examines each answer’s justification as they count and discuss the matching answers.

Word Scramble

Even adult students enjoy word scrambles as language exercises since they are fun and engaging. Ask the participants to decode and recognise the original words by simply switching the letter orders.

Use an online letter randomizer to make your own word encodings.


One of the most entertaining and simple games for adult students is scattergories. The task for the players is to think of terms that begin with the same letter.

What rules do we play by?

  1. One participant chooses the first letter by rolling the letter dice or using the letter generator.
  2. 60 seconds are indicated on the clock by the timekeeper.
  3. For each category, players list one word that begins with that letter.
  4. Players discuss the words after the timer expires.
  5. For each term that is used correctly, participants receive one point.
  6. Double or triple points are awarded for alliterative phrases.
  7. Both players must cross out the identical response if more than one player has it, and none receives a point.
  8. The player won’t receive points for meaningless responses, of course.
  9. Those who have the most points at the end of each round win.

What every teacher needs to know to teach vocabulary effectively

Guide for teachers

Examples of scattergories are provided below:

  • Surnames
  • Countries
  • Six-letter words
  • Dish names
  • Hobbies
  • Organizations
  • Movie heroes
  • Celebrities
  • Sports and games

You can come up with more original category ideas for the game or ask the players to do so.

Use the chat, screencast, and whiteboard elements of the virtual meeting platform for online gaming. A document or Google Form can also be shared, and you can play the online Scattergories game with multiple players.

Tree or Bob Ross

The entertaining game “Tree or Bob Ross” tests players’ ability to correctly guess a word by asking specific questions.

What rules do we play by?

  • Players who attempt to guess the term can reduce their search thanks to “The Post,” a player who responds to the questions.
  • “Is it more like a tree or more like Bob Ross?”, is typically the first question asked during a game. The reply should come from “The Post.” An orchid, for instance, resembles a tree more, but chess or fireworks will be a fun task.
  • Each time a guess is made, a new word is added to the question by the student. The second question can be, “Is it more like a tree or a bush?” for instance.

In this way, the game goes on until someone guesses the thing that is encrypted. Introduce time restrictions or give players more points for guessing the object earlier than anticipated to create excitement.

Mastering Idioms

Include helpful vocabulary exercises in your lessons to demonstrate to your students that growing their vocabulary is simple and enjoyable. You may find webinars and workshops for ESL teachers on Grade University website.

Gain relevant professional skills as well as a certification in TEFL and TESOL at Grade University!

Article authors & editors
  • Veronika Syrotkina

    Veronika Syrotkina


    CELTA certified teacher of General English



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