Games and Activities for ESL Classrooms


To teachers out there:

Are you running out of ideas for teaching your students? So these ESL games and activities for classrooms might help.

1. Bad Fruit: A Shoppers’ Nightmare

Level: Easy to Medium

This is an oral communication activity appropriate for EFL learners in elementary/primary school. (It’s optimal for grades 3-6). This game is designed for practicing “shopping” dialogues and vocabulary.

Materials: “produce” and play money.

Object of Game: To accumulate as many products as possible.

    Students are divided into clerks and shoppers.

    The clerks set up “stands” to allow easy access for all shoppers (e.g. around the outsides of the room with their backs to the wall).

    The shoppers are given a set amount of money* (e.g. dollars, euros, pounds, etc.) and begin at a stand where there is an open space.

    Students shop, trying to accumulate as many items as possible (each item is 1 unit of currency).

    Periodically, the instructor will say “stop” (a bell or other device may be needed to attract attention in some cultural and classroom contexts) and call out a name of one of the products. Students with that product must then put ALL their products in a basket at the front of the room. The remaining students continue shopping. Students who had to dump their products must begin again from scratch (with fewer units of currency).

    The student with the most products at the end wins.

    Students then switch roles.

*It is recommended giving students as much money as possible since students who run out can no longer participate.

Alternative play for more advanced students: Clerks set the price of items. Shoppers have the option of negotiating the price. There are two winners in this version: The shopper who accumulates the most products and the clerk who makes the most money.


2. Sentence Race

Level: Any Level

A good game for large classes and for reviewing vocabulary lessons.

  1. Prepare a list of review vocabulary words.
  2. Write each word on two small pieces of paper. That means writing the word twice, once on each paper.
  3. Organize the pieces like bundles, 2 bundles, 2 sets of identical words.
  4. Divide the class into 2 teams. get them to make creative team names.
  5. Distribute each list of words to both teams. every student on each team should have a paper.  Both teams have the same words.
  6. When you call a word, 2 students should stand up, one from each team. The students must then run to the blackboard and race to write a sentence using their word.

The winner is the one with a correct and clearly written sentence.

This is always a hit with kids. For more advanced students, use tougher words.


3. What’s the Meaning?

Level: Medium to Difficult

You, the teacher, may need a dictionary do this activity.

  • Choose a word which is long, difficult, and unknown to the students, a good word to begin with is: warmonger.
  • Without using a dictionary, your students write down a definition. (They can work out the definition in groups of three).  Allow them a few minutes to think and write.
  • Collect the definitions and read them aloud.
  • When you have finished reading, they will have to vote which of those is the correct one. (It doesn’t matter if none of them is the correct one)
  • After they have voted and none of the groups guessed the meaning you read the correct one aloud.

The idea of this game is to let students be creative and practice writing skills.

Then you can have the students to discuss their writings.

So do you find these activities interesting? Thank you to The Internet TESL Journal for providing these tips. You can click HERE for more activities.


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