5 ESL games that will make speaking less daunting

Updated: 5 days ago

1. Split crosswords (in pairs)- Students A and B look at their crosswords and make sure they know the meaning of all of the words. Then, they ask each other to define their words and fill in their part of the crossword accordingly. My students have always loved this activity as not only they are ending up laughing a lot with trying to explain these words, but they also practise spelling!

2. Speed dating conversations- I give students a set of questions and have them face each other. I tell them that when they hear music playing, they must move to the next chair down. When the music stops, they can start chatting to the person opposite them until the music starts again. I usually ask only the one side to move along the chairs so that it doesn't get chaotic.

3. Pass the parcel- Again I like to play a bit of music when my students pass around a little bag with lots of vocabulary in it. When the music stops, the person that has the bag pulls out a piece of paper and tries to define the word to the rest. It's a great way of revising new vocabulary.

4. Board games- I like to make my own board games but there are lots of free ones available online. I particularly like using them to practise mixed conditionals and comparatives/superlatives. It's always nice for students to revise and practise grammar through fun activities and not just exercises. I believe exercises are great for practising the correct forms, especially for new grammar, but when it comes to making it part of our speaking, games are more effective.

5. Irregular verbs ball- Everybody gets in a circle and students throw the ball to a classmate whilst shouting out a verb of their choice. The student that catches the ball has to say the past simple form of this verb and the next student that catches the ball must identify the past participle form. As soon as somebody makes a mistake they must sit down, and the last student standing is the winner.


Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these games can be used in the classroom once it's safe again. However, for online teaching, there are different ways in which they can be altered and used as effectively.

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