16 engaging and useful english games for students

"To Play or Not To Play" or 16 Ways to Make Your Classroom the Most Amusing Place Ever

"To Play or Not To Play" or 16 Ways to Make Your Classroom the Most Amusing Place Ever

07.04.2023

252
2
minutes
  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

To play or not to play? That is a question! When it comes to games we often underestimate the use they bring to our lessons. Sometimes, we think that our students would not be interested in games because of their age, that we would not be able to conduct certain beloved games online, or that there is simply no game that would be useful for reaching our lesson’s goal. 

The truth is that none of these reasons are good enough to choose “not to play”. To prove that, we will discuss sixteen ways how you can turn both your online and offline classroom into the funniest place ever and at the same time make the most out of your lesson.

Discover the key to teenage motivation!

1. Name Game

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: A perfect ice-breaker or drilling activity
  • Online options: You can conduct the game open class without any special sources

A Name Game is a perfect way to get to know your students during your first meetings. 

The rules are easy: students introduce themselves and tell the class their favorite thing, book, movie, place – you name it! 

You can adapt the game to any topic or level, and even make it more difficult by asking your students to retell the information that they have heard before introducing their own points. In this way, it can also be used as a drilling activity. 

2. Miming

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels (but still, is more useful for lower levels)
  • What is it good for: To revise or drill new vocabulary
  • Online options: Online version is more limited but may be useful for you anyway. You can allow your students to make sounds or use some extra objects. To nominate the student you can text the word or phrase in direct messages as a lot of platforms like Zoom have this option.

Miming can turn into both useful and hilarious activity

Students get the cards which they show nobody. Then, they need to take turns miming the words they have got. The first person who guesses gets the point. This game is perfect for drilling or revising new vocabulary.

3. Pictionary

  • Who is it good for: Younger learners (but some adults like it too) and all levels
  • What is it good for: To revise or drill new vocabulary
  • Online options: There are many ways how not to omit this activity during your online lessons. Some platforms (Skribbl and Drawbattle) are free and some of them require a monthly payment (Drawpoly). Check them out and choose which one works for you!

To play Pictionary, you need to give every student a card with the word or the phrase

Then in groups, they take turns and draw their words or phrases and other students guess. It is an extremely amusing way to revise or drill new vocabulary. The good news is that you can play it both online and offline.

4. Flashcard Guess

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To revise or drill new vocabulary
  • Online options: You can create an Image search activity using Wordwall to play this game online. If you don’t have a Wordwall premium account, you can use Classtools platform.

The idea of the game is the following. 

The teacher shows a picture revealing only small parts of the whole image. Students need to guess the word before the whole picture is revealed. If you work offline, you need to prepare physical cards or slides for your board. 

There are also some cool options if you conduct online classes, so don’t forget to check them out.

How to spend your post-holiday lessons

Several ideas

5. Memory

  • Who is it good for: All ages, lower levels
  • What is it good for: To revise or drill new vocabulary
  • Online options: You can create a Matching pairs activity with the help of Wordwall or use Memozor (by the way, here you have a couple of ready games sorted by topics) to play this game online.

In this game, students need to find a matching pair of words and pictures and in this way collect as many scores as possible. 

That often helps to drill or revise the words with lower levels. In the office, you can prepare corresponding cards and ask students to match them whereas online you can create the same activity using the sources above.

6. 20 Questions

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To practice speaking, to drill vocabulary 
  • Online options: You don’t need any extra tools for this task. Just text your students their words or phrases

To play this game, you need to give a chosen student a card with a word or a phrase. You can also ask the student to come up with their own words which are connected to the topic. 

All other students have twenty questions to guess it. You can make the task harder and practice grammar at the same time: ask your students to create only general questions or Present Perfect questions etc. 

If you want to play this game online, just text your students their words and phrases in the chat box. Don’t forget to choose the private mode, so other students do not see the vocabulary they need to guess.

How to boost learners motivation

12 ways

7. Snowman (Hangman)

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To drill or revise new vocabulary, to practise spelling
  • Online options: The easiest way to play this game is to create a Hangman activity on Wordwall. However, if you don’t have a premium account, you can use some free options like Hangman

This game is a fun way to drill the vocabulary or practice spelling which is actual for all levels. 

To play this game, a teacher has to draw gaps on the board where every gap stands for every missing letter. Students take turns and guess the letters. If they guess the letter correctly, you don’t add any elements to the picture of a hangman (or a snowman if you work with kids)

However, if they make mistake you draw one more element. Students win if they guess the word before the picture is completed. If you want to play it online, you can use some of the proposed resources instead of drawing your hang-snow-man on the screen yourself.

8. Odd One Out

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To practise vocabulary and grammar or revise words and rules from the previous classes
  • Online options: There are plenty of ways to conduct this game online. You can make a PowerPoint or Canva presentation and nominate the students. If you want to create a game, you can use such platforms as WordwallKahootQuizizz or Genially. 

This is a perfect game to practice both vocabulary and grammar

The teacher’s task here is to prepare blocks of words, phrases, or sentences where one element is incorrect or odd. Students need to find out which one. The quickest student or group gets a point.

Best games for recycling vocabulary

6 options

9. Jeopardy

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: This game can be used for anything: practicing vocabulary, grammar, functional language, and even pronunciation
  • Online options: You can use Factile or Genially to create this kind of activity for online classes

Jeopardy has already become a classic game

Students choose the questions on the grid, answer them and either collect or lose the points which are possible to get for these questions. The student or group that manages to collect the biggest number of points by answering the questions correctly wins. 

The game can be used to practice any kind of vocabulary or grammar both offline and online.

10. Crossword puzzles

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: A good way to revise or drill new words or elicit grammar rules
  • Online options: You can create a Crossword activity on Wordwall or CrosswordLabs

Crosswords do not need to be explained. How they can be used for teaching English, though? 

Crosswords are perfect for revising words, drilling new vocabulary, or presenting target language. It depends on the topic, but you can even try using them for eliciting grammar rules. 

11. Scrabble

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To drill or revise new words
  • Classroom options: You can use an online Scrabble maker instead of creating Scrabble on your own. Also, there is an option to download a PDF document after you are done
  • Online options: You can prepare slides with the letters your students are supposed to use and give groups time to think

The idea of this game is to create as many words as you can from the set of letters you get. This is a great way to revise and expand vocabulary and practice spelling, of course.

How to develop listening skills

12. The Association Game

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To practise speaking, drill or revise vocabulary, to get to know each other during the first lessons
  • Online options: You don’t have to use any special tools to conduct this game online

The Association Game is very easy and interesting to play with students of any level. 

The teacher gives the first student a word and he/she needs to come up with the association. 

After that, the student nominates the next person who has to share a new association that corresponds to the previous speaker’s word. One by one all the students share their associations. It is possible to make the game more difficult by introducing some additional rules like using only adjectives connected to traveling or phrases with the state verbs and so on. 

Another great thing about this game is that you need nothing but your students.

13. The Longest List

  • Who is it good for: All levels and ages
  • What is it good for: To expand the vocabulary or revise the words from the previous lessons
  • Online options: You can divide students into the break-out rooms and broadcast a new letter every two minutes using the Broadcasting function or the chat box

The Longest List game is great to expand the vocabulary or revise the words from the previous topics. 

The idea is the following. The groups of students get a letter and during a limited period of time, they need to come up with as many words as possible. 

The group that has the longest list of words with the correct spelling win. In this way, you can also pay attention to cautious writing. After playing, you can always compare the lists and exchange your ideas.

How to spice up your English classes

14. Call My Bluff (Two Truths and A Lie)

  • Who is it good for: All levels and ages
  • What is it good for: To practise speaking, to revise certain structures or grammar rules, to get to know each other better during the first classes
  • Online options: You don’t need any special tools. Just ask your students to join the break-out rooms

Call My Bluff is a great ice-breaker but also can be used to practice grammar or functional language. Every student has to write three sentences: two of them are true and one is a lie. Other students have to guess which one is a lie. This activity gives a lot of space for further discussion, using target vocabulary or grammar topics. 

Last but not least, students like getting to know each other which may be especially hard online.

15. Naughts & Crosses

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To practise or drill new vocabulary, to revise or drill new grammar rules
  • Online options: For conducting this activity, you can simply use a Whiteboard. Additionally, there are also some sources that are very easy to use during the lesson One of them is Tic-Tac-Toe

Naughts and Crosses is another famous game that can be easily implemented into our lessons. 

The only thing that the teacher adds is the set of questions that must be answered before students get a chance to put either naughts or crosses. You can use both grammar and vocabulary material for playing this game.

16. Grammar Auction

  • Who is it good for: All ages and levels
  • What is it good for: To practise grammar
  • Online options: To conduct this game online create slides with the sentences. Make sure students can see all the sentences at once

Grammar Auction is a more interesting alternative to the Correct-the-Mistakes task. 

The teacher prepares a list of sentences – “goods” – which students can buy. Each sentence costs a different amount of money. Every student has a limited budget and needs to make sure that he/she buys only “good” sentences without mistakes. 

After the students “spend” their money the teacher reveals how much money the students have lost and how many good sentences they have bought. 

Teaching comparatives and superlatives

5 fun ways

Give it a try!

As you can see, playing games is not that hard, but for sure adds diversity to the lesson, and is interesting for the vast majority of students. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, online teaching gives us even more opportunities to easily create engaging and useful games. 

We hope that next time it comes to playing during the lesson you won’t hesitate and will give it a try!

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko

    Author

    Teacher of General English & IELTS

2

Comments

Leave your comment