When you help to teach English as a foreign language, sometimes you really have to get creative with your games and activities to keep the students engaged. This, of course, varies when it comes to age and knowledge level as well. I work with a wide range of students, from age 3 in Infantil all the way through age 16 in E.S.O. Here are some of the games and activities that I’ve found successful in my classes with Meddeas! Please, share yours too!
1. Game: Yes or No Questions
One game that I’ve found incredibly popular with the students in Primary ranging between ages 8-11 is “yes or no questions”. Essentially, the game is as follows: in small groups, the students take turns writing a word down based on the topic being covered in the unit. Let’s say the topic is animals. One student will pick an animal and write it down without showing anyone. Then, the other students in the group will take turns asking yes or no questions to get closer to guessing what the animal is.
– “Does the animal live in the forest?” – No
– “Can the animal fly?” – No
– “Does the animal live on a farm?” – No
– “Can the animal swim?” – Yes
– “Is the animal scary?” – No
– “Is the animal really big?” – No
– “Is the animal a mammal?” – No
– “Does the animal have a shell?” – Yes
– “Is the animal a turtle?” – YES!
2. Game: Memory Matching
I have found memory and matching games incredibly useful with older Infantil students (5 year olds). Once students have pretty much mastered the new vocabulary with picture cards and reading flash cards, having a memory game is an easy way to practice reading again and then, reinforcing the association of the words with the pictures. If the students correctly match the word with the photo, they get to keep the two cards so that they can count how many they have at the end of the game. Young children love competitions and therefore, they want to be the one at the end who has the most matches. To add an extra element to this game, the students must create a complete sentence before they get to keep the word and picture cards.
3. Game: Bingo
I know, I know, it’s an old classic, but honestly, I’ve had a huge success rate with it. Bingo is a wonderful tool to use for listening. The students need to listen to what word is being called out, and then locate it on their card. If you want to incorporate speaking, you can have the students take turns being the caller of each animal as they pull them out of a hat or bucket. This allows them to practice their reading and pronunciation! This game can be done with either pictures or words. However, my students are focusing a bit more on reading and spelling at the moment, so I have provided an example of how you can create bingo boards with words using the Bingo Baker! They have already made sheets available based on topics, or you can create your own!
Here is the website to create bingo sheets.
4. Activity: Connect Fours
You can also create interactive online games with classtools.net! I created a game for learning about different animals and where they live. In the game, the students use classroom computers or tablets to connect the four animals that are related, and then they must come to a conclusion about how these animals are related! This is a reading activity. If you set the students up in pairs or groups of three, they can speak out loud to each other to decide which animals should be grouped together. In this case, the animals were connected by where they live; the forest, the jungle, the farm, or the ocean.
5.Activity: Word Searches
The students of Primary LOVE word searches. I mean, love is an understatement really. They adore them, so much that they now create them for me and give them to me to solve. Here is an example of word searches I have made this year for school using some pretty cool online tools!
6. Activity: Picture Stories
This game is best done with an upper level like Primary and E.S.O. Essentially, one student draws a photo based on vocabulary from the unit. They add as many details and elements and colors as possible. Then, they have to stand at the front of the room and describe their picture in great depth to the class. The class had to try and recreate the drawing solely based on the verbal description given by the student at the front of the room.
“I drew a square house with a triangle roof in the center of the page. The house has a rectangle door with a window. There is a window on either side of the doors. Next to the house on the left, there are four flowers. The yellow sun is in the sky with three clouds. There is a dog in the yard next to the house.”
What details are missing???
– What color is the house/door/flower/dog?
– Are the windows rectangular/square/circular?
– What side of the yard is the dog on?
– Where is the sun in the sky?
This really pushes the students to use as much descriptive vocabulary as possible, and they find it to be a huge laugh to see the pictures at the end!
There are so many ESL games and activities to keep your student engaged and entertained, so really the Internet is your best friend on this one. Please, check these four sites bookmarked for ESL lesson plans. Have fun!
By Miranda F., 2018/19