Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 26

A Dark and stormy night

Submitted by NikPeachey on 25 August, 2010 - 06:47 The main focus of the activity is on developing writing skills, but it's also good for developing listening speaking and reading skills and also for practising past tenses, descriptive vocabulary and generally having fun. The activity should work at most levels above elementary, as long as your students have some knowledge of past tenses, but it works best when they also know past continuous / progressive too. All you need to get things started is a sheet of plain paper for each pair of students.

The listening part comes first:

Ask the students to draw the face of a person in the top right-hand corner of the page. Once they've done this ask them to give the person a name. Then on the top left of the page ask them to write five adjectives to describe the person's appearance. Next ask them to write five more adjectives to describe the person's character. After they've done this ask the students to write three things that the person likes doing. Then ask them to write who the person lives with. In this way they build up a character profile for the person they are going to write about.

The writing part:

Now dictate the following sentence to your students: 'It was a dark and stormy night and'. Stop at this point and ask them to write in the name of the person they have drawn and followed by the word 'was'. Then ask the students to complete the sentence from their imagination and add one more sentence. Once all the students have added a sentence to their stories, get them to stop and pass the paper to the pair on their right (this means that every pair of students now has a new character). The students then read through the information and the beginning of the story and then add one more sentence to it. Once they've done this you ask them once more to pass the paper to the next pair on their right. Continue to do this with each pair of students adding a sentence to each story, gradually building up each story as the papers are passed around the class. Continue with this until you decide that the students are starting to lose interest or have written enough and then tell them to finish the story.

Follow up:

Once all the stories are complete there are a number of follow up options you can try. Put the stories up around the class and get the students to read them all and decide which is best. Give each pair of students a story and get them to try to find and correct errors. Get the students to write the stories up on a computer and the ask them to add more description and detail to the stories. This activity is fun and creative and has always worked well for me both with adults and younger students.

Back writing

Submitted by Jo Budden on 8 September, 2010 - 06:14 This is a good activity for restless younger classes.


Put students into teams (no more than 8 or so in each team) and get each team to line up facing the board. The student at the front of each team needs chalk or a board pen. Show a word or a picture to all the students who are at the back of each line. Use a word you've studied in class, that all the students should know. The students at the back of the line should write' each letter of the word with their finger, on the back of the student in front of them in the line. The students pass the letters down the line by doing the same and writing' the letters in turn on the back of the student in front of them. The student at the front of the line writes the letters on the board to make the word. The first team with the word written correctly on the board wins. A few words of warning with this activity; it's a good idea to start with short words and short lines of students as it can take a while to pass the letters down the line. Also if your students aren't used to this type of touchy' activity you may want to change the game to students whispering the letters rather than writing on backs.

Submitted by Jo Budden on 26 May, 2010 - 13:25 This childhood favourite can easily be adapted for use in the language classroom.

Either copy a battleships board for each student or, to save photocopying, just get them to copy a board onto some scrap paper or in their notebook. The reason for putting the vowels and the numbers 14, 40, 15, 50 etc is that they are the letters that students generally make mistakes with. If the problem letters are different for your learners, change them on your board. Select a group of words you want your students to practise and write them on the board. Ask your students to choose ten to write anywhere they like on their battleship board. Students work in pairs facing one another, without looking at each others boards to ask questions to find the words. E.g. Is there anything in E, 40? If there is. they get a HIT and ask their p artner what word they found. If there was nothing in that square they get a MISS and carry on. To make it harder, when students HIT the words and find them they have to spell the word out to their partner and say what it means, or put it into a sentence, in order to get the point. The first student to find all ten hidden words is the winner By Jo Budden

Chain drawings
Submitted by TE Editor on 15 June, 2011 - 12:32 This is a fun activity which can be used with all groups, just select a follow-up activity that is appropriate for the age and level of the class but the basic procedure is the same for everyone.


Give each student a piece of paper and some coloured pencils. Tell them that you are going to play some music and you want them to draw whatever comes into their heads.

o o o o o o o

As music is playing, all students should be drawing. After 20 or 30 seconds, stop the music. Students stop drawing and pass their picture to the person to the left of them in the circle. Play the music again and they continue with the drawing the person next to them had started. Stop the music again, pass pictures on and this continues until the end of the song. When you have finished each student will have a picture that several students contributed to. Then it's up to you what to do with the pictures. Here are some ideas: Label everything on the picture. Describe the picture to the group or a partner. Imagine that the picture represents the dream you had last night. Explain your dream to the group. (You could ask another student to analyse the dream.) The picture is actually a postcard. Write the postcard to a friend telling them all about the place where youre o holiday. If there are people in the picture, use them to create a dialogue. Imagine the picture was a photo taken at 5pm yesterday. Describe what was happening. Put the pictures up around the room and create your own art gallery.

Note: Different types of music tend to produce very different pictures. Reggae or Latin American
music tends to get tropical island or beach scenes, dance music tends to get cityscapes and classical or chill out tends to get more abstract pictures. Experiment and see what your students produce and adapt follow-up activities accordingly.

Change places
Submitted by Jo Budden on 20 January, 2010 - 13:09 This is a great activity to get students moving about and practice some vocabulary or sentence structures.


Start with students in a closed circle, with the teacher standing in the middle to begin the game. There should always be one less chair than participants. Depending on what you want to revise the teacher says, Change places if (Example) youre wearing trainers. All students who are wearing trainers must stand up, and move to another chair and the teacher should sit on one of the recently vacated seats. The person left without a seat stays in the middle and gives the next command, Change places if you (Example) have brown eyes and so it goes on. Adapt for higher levels with commands such as, Change places if you went to the cinema last weekend, or Change places if you would like to have less homework. Young learners can get very excited with this game so make it clear from the beginning that pushing other students out of chairs and similar behaviour is not going to be tolerated! Be careful to incorporate this activity in the class at an appropriate time. It is a definitely a warmer as opposed to a cooler and may be better at the end of a class.

Christmas games
Submitted by TE Editor on 8 December, 2011 - 08:46 Introduction Here are some games which we associate with parties and Christmas celebrations in UK schools. These games can be adapted for language learners of all ages and levels. Pass the parcel (Whole class/mixed ability groups)

Prepare 5-6 boxes or envelopes decorated or wrapped with Christmas paper. In each parcel put a group activity with a Xmas theme for students to try e.g. a word search, a dialogue to practice, a questionnaire to ask each other, a poem to read aloud. Spread the boxes around the class and students can work through each parcel, passing them around. Good for two lessons or a double period as well. Santas sack (whole class) Prepare everyday objects of varying sizes and shapes. Wrap them up in Xmas paper and put in a sack (a pillow case will do !). Students take turns to fish out an object then win points if they can guess the object. It could be a mobile phone.It might be a calculator etc. Lower levels can say I think its a.. or ask Is it a/an..? Mystery pictures (whole class or small groups) Another guessing game is to cover Christmas pictures with a black card and leave a slim keyhole or peep hole in the centre of the card. Can they guess the object that is half hidden? You can get your pictures from magazines, free leaflets and catalogues from supermarkets or printed up from the net.

Make a keyhole template with one blank sheet of paper. Cover each picture and photocopy. You will then have a series of pictures half hidden by black. Students can also play this in small groups if you have enough pictures photocopied. For groups write the solution in pencil on the back of each hidden picture. For lower levels (and kids): concentrate on 8 key items which they know well (this can be Christmas presents hidden i.e. a Harry Potter book, a game boy, a favourite video). For higher levels pick objects associated with Christmas but still stick to vocabulary they know e.g. a bottle of Champagne, a Christmas cake, a parcel or gift, a ski slope, a reindeer, an angel Or cover Christmas presents. Pin the nose on the reindeer (whole class or small groups) Prepare a picture of a reindeer with a small piece of velcro glued to the place where the nose should be. Prepare a nose backed with velcro. Blindfold a student from each team and their team have to shout directions to help them get the nose on the reindeer e.g. Up a bit, down a bit, left, right etc. All ages play this but beware of self conscious adolescents as it may cramp their style! Xmas find someone who (whole class, small groups) Prepare 8 festive sounding challenges suited to the language level of your class and get them talking to find someone who went skiing / will be going skiing, wrote a letter to Santa when they were small, has got a Xmas tree at home, has done some Xmas shopping, can tell you how to cook a traditional meal/dish.

Example: Lower levels find someone who is.. going to the mountains for Christmas / Going to stay with cousins for Christmas / Staying at home for Christmas. Higher levels (use language they have studied this term) Find someone who has never been away from home / has eaten pizza on Christmas day / Would go to a hot country for Christmas (if they could/had the opportunity) / Has already bought some Christmas presents / a Christmas CD / Can suggest an original dish/activity for Xmas day / can tell you a special Xmas memory from childhood (this is a very open conversation starter for a fairly fluent class). Xmas colouring (whole class or pairs) Make multiple copies of the same colouring picture (print up one from the sites suggested in the Essential UK Xmas Special). Tell the whole class how to colour it (best with lower levels and kids) or in pairs give each students a half coloured picture (different parts coloured for each) and they ask questions to finish the picture e.g. What colour is the present? fairy on the tree? Santas sleigh?

Higher levels can have different pictures but do not give them guidance on which objects are coloured in or not. Students therefore have to ask and find out what needs colouring in. In some cases the pictures have a few objects coloured in but the choice is more random than half and half. Make sure students know all the words for the objects. Put a glossary down the side of their pictures and/or use one copy to review the words before they start the activity.


Submitted by Anonymous on 3 February, 2010 - 16:55 This is a good game for high-energy groups when you need to get them all sitting down and on task. They really have to concentrate to stay in the game. If you dont have space to get everyone sitting in a circle or you cant move the tables you can do it standing up.


Sit in a circle with your students and do the hand actions of lap (both hands to lap), clap, left click, right click. When they get the hang of it, add these words in time to the rhythm Concentration, concentration, concentration now beginning, are you ready? If so, lets go! On the first finger click, you say your name, and on the second click you say the name of someone in the circle. You have passed the turn to the person you nominated on your second finger click. Then they say their own name on the first click and the name of another student on the second, and so it goes on. When they have got the idea, use different lexical sets. For example, everyone says their favourite sport first then use these to play the game instead of saying names. You can also use flashcards or real objects such as fruit and vegetables or classroom objects. Place a flashcard or an object by each students feet and they use these as they do the finger clicks and pass the turn. For a competitive group, eliminate those students who make mistakes.

Conditional chain game

Submitted by Jo Budden on 7 September, 2011 - 08:39 This game is good to revise and practise structures in the first conditional. The teacher begins with a sentence, for example If I go out tonight, Ill go to the cinema. The next person in the circle must use the end of the previous sentence to begin their own sentence. Eg If I go to the cinema, Ill watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The next person could say, If I watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ill eat lots of chocolate. Then, If I eat lots of chocolate, Ill put on weight etc. etc.

Dating game
Submitted by TE Editor on 27 October, 2010 - 09:45 This is a great activity for getting students talking. I have used it successfully with many different levels and age groups and have found that it is very effective at motivating teenagers to talk. It is particularly useful for practising describing appearance, character and interests.

You will need a selection of flashcards of people, a mixture of ages and types.


Put a picture of a person on the board and ask the students to tell you his/her name, age and job. Write whatever they tell you on the board. (Note: at first they may be a bit confused and think that they should know the person, they will soon get the idea).

o o o

Then ask them to describe him/her physically (again write what they tell you on the board). Repeat this procedure for his/her character and hobbies. You should end up with a paragraph profile of the person. Read the description of the person and elicit from the students that he/she is not happy because they are single and would like to meet a man/woman. Then follow the same procedure above to elicit a description of the person that they would like to meet. At the end of all this you should have two descriptions. Tell the students that you see these kinds of descriptions in lonely hearts pages in magazines and newspapers.(You could even bring some in to show them) Give the students a picture each and tell them not to show it to anyone. You may have to stress this, as it is a temptation to show the pictures to friends in the class. The students then have to write a description of the person in the picture and the person they would like to meet. Point out that they can use the model on the board as a guide. Monitor and feed in language as they need it. Tell the students to leave their pictures face down on the table and to mingle. The aim is for them to try and find a partner for the person in their picture. At lower levels they can take the description with them as they mingle. They need to talk to everybody and not just settle for the first person who comes along asking questions to ensure they find the right person. It is also a good idea to play some romantic music in the background as they are mingling (Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder). After you have given them enough time to find partners, stop the activity (if they are being very choosy give them a time limit and tell them they must compromise and find a partner). Conduct a feedback session and ask the students to tell the class about their invented character and the partner that they have found. The class can then see the pictures for the first time and decide if they think it will be a successful relationship.

Follow up ideas
Students can write the story of the relationship or can write letters to the new partners.

You can change the context and replace the pictures of the people with pictures of houses/flats and ask the students to be either estate agents or buyers looking for a place to live. Again they can write descriptions of places they want to sell (of varying standards) and places they would like to buy, mingle and try to find their dream homes. You can adapt the basic idea to suit many different topics. This activity was originally published on the BBC | British Council Teaching English website. Find more activities like this one.

Deja vu
Submitted by Duncan M on 14 October, 2011 - 06:13 This a simple way of recycling texts previously studied in class. This speaking activity gets students to think in English and use their memory, simultaneously. It works well with factual texts in EFL, texts used in CLIL lessons and quizzes related to any subject.

Texts/authentic articles previously studied or quizzes completed in class.


Prepare a few questions about factual information from the text(s) e.g. dates, proper names, percentages, figures, etc.

Get students to read the recycled text(s) /article(s) again and make notes about factual information they consider important. Ask students to compare notes with a partner. Divide class into groups. Each group nominates a representative who will take turns to answer. The teacher asks the first question, but the student mustnt reply. The teacher asks the second question and the student answers the previous one (first question). The teacher then asks the third question and the student answers the previous one (second question), and so on - see samples below. Each student should answer all the questions correctly in a row to win the round.

Sample 1 General Knowledge Quiz

How many legs does a spider have? (SKIP ANSWER) What is the currency in India? 8 Where will the next Olympic Games take place? Rupee What was Bob Marleys birth name? London When is St Patricks Day celebrated? Robert Nesta Marley What is 6 + 3? - 17 March 9

Sample 2 Questions about a text

Where did Bill live when he was a child? - (SKIP ANSWER) What was the name of his pet? Sydney How many footballs did he have? Roxy When did he move to the UK? 4 Why was he unable to complete his primary school? in 1999 He moved to Cardiff

By Ender Velasco

Desert Island Escape

Submitted by Jo Budden on 18 August, 2010 - 08:40 This is a speaking activity for higher level students with good imaginations.


Set the scene of a plane accident or ship wreck. A group of students have ended up on a desert island with a few random objects. Bring in a bag of objects from home or things that you can gather from around the school, for example, a coat hanger, a ball of string, clothes pegs, a corkscrew etc. etc. Tell the students that they have to use the objects they have to help them survive on the island. They should think of ways of putting the items to good use. Give each group a set time and then listen to each group's ideas. Hold a class vote to decide which group would survive for the longest.

Drawing dictations

Submitted by TE Editor on 18 February, 2011 - 11:35 Drawing dictations are a great way to practise vocabulary and to find out how well the students in your class listen to you. You can make the dictation as easy or difficult as you like, depending on the level of the group and you can use drawing dictations to revise vocabulary you've studied in class in a fun way.


If you've been studying food, dictate instructions for your students to draw a fridge, with the door open, and a range of different food items inside. Keep the language simple and concise. For higher levels, have a picture in front of you and describe it to the class. See who, at the end, has the most similar picture to the original. Students can take turns in giving the dictation too.

Games for question practice


Submitted by TE Editor on 11 November, 2009 - 15:03 An essential skill in communicating and keeping up a conversation is the ability to ask questions. Students sometimes get lots of chances to answer questions but here is how you can get them to make some questions themselves! These activities can be used with a whole range of levels.

1. FAQ's challenge
Tell students that they are preparing information on a topic for a booklet or a website e.g. tourist information for their town, information about their school system, information about customs or music in their country.

Students in groups or pairs brainstorm a list of six to eight frequently asked questions on the subject. The whole class pool their questions and discuss them. Students prepare the answers in the next lesson.

2. Quiz question challenge

A quiz game based on recent vocabulary and topics covered can form the basis of this game with a twist. It has been played successfully with beginners!

Read aloud the answers from your quiz cards

In teams students must guess what the question is! Allow conferring between team members. Award two points for getting the question exactly right and one point for providing a question which makes sense and gets the answer, e.g. if the answer is '21', the questions could be 'How many students are there in this class? (two points) and 'How old is the assistant?' (one point)

3. Guess the object

Divide class into groups. Each group makes a list of three or four objects. Focus on words recently studied, words for objects in the room or words for objects related to a topic e.g. home, studying, music etc.

One group must guess the objects of another group by asking questions e.g. 'Is it made of metal? Can you find one in this room? Is it bigger than this table?' Set a limit to the number of questions possible for each object (e.g. six to eight questions). Give a point to the team if the object is not guessed/guessed within the number of questions allowed. Guide students by providing the lists of objects yourself or focussing on specific question types to suit your classes.

4. Question time challenge

This approach can be used as a regular lesson slot or filler to change pace. Give one question with the words jumbled up on slips of paper. The first pair or group to unscramble it correctly are the winners.

A longer version: Take four or five question types recently covered by students. Jumble the
words of the questions and write on one worksheet or on slips of paper in an envelope. Challenge small groups or pairs to re order. Run through the questions scoring two points for each correctly ordered question. Then challenge students again to think of logical answers to the questions or to use a couple of the questions in a mini dialogue.

Gap Fill Gamble

Submitted by Jo Budden on 10 February, 2012 - 08:44 This is a game to make any gap-fill task or cloze texts (reading tasks with gaps) more exciting. You need an envelope full of small bits of paper. Chop up a few pages of scrap paper for this. Students compete against one another in pairs. Give each pair a bunch of small bits of paper to keep on their table. Explain that they are going to compete against their partner to win as many bits of paper as possible. Each one is worth one point. You are going to read some sentences with gaps in. When theres a gap youll say beep. They must write the beeped out word on a bit of paper without their partner seeing. Set a 5 second time limit and then say, Okay, turn over. Both of the students turn over their papers at the same time. If both are correct, leave them on the table to accumulate. If both are wrong, leave them on the table to accumulate. When one student is right and the other wrong, the student who is right wins all the accumulated cards that have gathered, and the piles start again on the next question. This is great for practising prepositions, such as the time prepositions in/on/at which students often make mistakes with. For example:

My birthday is ____ beep November 22nd. I have English class _____ beep Wednesdays and Fridays. School starts _____ beep 8.30 am. Im going to Cornwall ____ beep the holidays. When you have done ten or so sentences, stop the game and get students to count how many bits of paper they won. Rather than having just one or two winners in the class after a game, the great thing about this one is that half the class win as each pair has a winner.

(Thanks to Nicole Taylor for sharing this one in a training session a few years ago.) By Jo Budden First published 2009

Get in line
Submitted by Jo Budden on 6 April, 2011 - 13:15 This is a kind of class survey where you can practise asking for personal information. The great thing about this activity is that nobody needs to write anything so you need absolutely no materials, all you need is enough space for your whole class to stand up in a line (it doesn't have to be straight!)


Students ask each other questions in order to organise themselves in line depending on their answers. For example, When's your birthday?' the line is formed from January birthdays through to December birthdays all in the correct order. Other questions you can use are, What time did you go to bed last night?', How many countries have you visited?', How much TV did you watch yesterday?' etc. etc. When all the students are in the line in order, ask them each to call out their answers to check they are all in the right place.


Submitted by Jo Budden on 24 March, 2010 - 09:16 Put students in pairs and give them a scene to act out. They are going to have a conversation using an invented language. Explain to your students that gobbledygook is a made up language that is total nonsense. The pair should act out the scene using the correct intonation as if they were really talking to one another. The rest of the class can watch and guess what the situation is. After, you could write out the real dialogue in English for one of the scenes.

Grammar auction
Submitted by Anonymous on 29 September, 2010 - 08:08 This is a teacher led auction. It can be played with mixed language points which are causing difficulty or on a specific area, as in the example. You may need to check that the students understand the concept of an auction.


Put the students into pairs or small groups and give each pair a sheet of sentences and their money limit. If you can find monopoly or other fake money to use it adds to the fun. Ask the students to plan which sentences they are going to bid for. Conduct the auction in a brisk and fun way. After all the sentences are sold, run through and get a class vote on which sentences are correct. Confirm the answers. Ask them to add up their money. Who has lost money on incorrect sentences? Ask pairs to decide why the sentences are not correct.

Example auction sheet

Decide which of these sentences is correct. You have 1000 Euro to spend. Try to buy the best sentences with your money. Only buy correct ones if you can!

1. I am living in Paris since 1998. 2. Has Pascal ever been to London? 3. Betty hasnt went to England yet. 4. Nobody in the class has been to America. 5. How long are you studying English? 6. I havent seen my cousin since a long time. 7. We have seen each other last summer . 8. When were you born? 9. Ive been born in 1987. 10. Ive never seen a film in English but Ive read a book. 11. Sallys lived in London for 10 years now.

Happy Graph
Submitted by TE Editor on 3 November, 2011 - 15:10 Although not really a game this is a valuable warmer activity for any teenage class. It gives the students the chance to get to know you a little more and it gives you the opportunity to find out about how your students are feeling before you start your lesson. Draw the two axis of a graph on the board with 7 spaces along the bottom and three along the vertical side with three circles. Ask students what they think the spaces are for and elicit the days of the week for the horizontal axis (with today being the final one and working backwards for a week) and put three faces in the circles, the top one very happy, the middle one looking unimpressed and the bottom one looking sad. Tell students this is a Happy Graph and then plot your own moods on the graph for

the last week. Connect them up and then tell students about your week and let them ask you some questions. For example, Why were you really happy last Sunday? Because I went out with some friends for lunch and we had a really good time. Then students do the same and ask each other questions in pairs about their weeks. (Thanks to Paul Braddock from the British Council YL Centre in Barcelona for sharing this activity in a recent workshop.)

Horse race dictation

Submitted by TE Editor on 13 October, 2010 - 07:46 This is an activity in which students try to predict the order of words in a jumbled sentence before listening for the answer. It is enjoyable because students are asked to predict the first word, in the same way people try to guess which horse will come first in a race, giving a strong motivation for the short but very intensive listening activity, in the form of a horse race commentary, which gives the solution.

Choose a sentence and write words in random order on the left of the board, as in the example below. You also need to prepare a commentary, which should be challenging enough to make it interesting but not too difficult. In the example below there is only one major change in order, when, and other minor changes during the race. finally was oclock eleven home when I it got

Example commentary
Theyre off! I has made a strong start, with finally close behind, and home and got following. When is at the back, eleven and oclock are just ahead. Was and it are in the middle of the field and it has just passed was. Both are ahead of eleven and oclock and when is coming from behind fast, passing eleven and oclock, and look at when go, flying up the field! He has passed finallyand is now passing I, and into the lead. Theyre coming to the finish line, what an incredible finish! Its when first, I second, finally third, got beats home to finish fourth, with oclock coming in last. Example answer: When I finally got home it was eleven oclock.


Make sure students are familiar with words showing order in races eg first, second, last, at the back, following, ahead, in(to) the lead, behind, up the field. Tell the students to imagine that the words are horses who are going to race to the other side of the board. The winner will be the first word in the sentence, the second to finish will be the second word and so on. Ask them to choose the word that they think will be the winner and write it down. Ask students to compare their predictions in groups.

Tell the students they are going to hear a horse race commentary and that they have to listen carefully to find the winner and the order of words. They can make notes during the commentary and should write the sentence at the end. Read the commentary. Stress the words in italics to differentiate them from the other words. Note that commentaries are spoken fast in real life, so read it fairly fast the first time. Check the answers. You may need to read it more than once for the class to agree. Ask who predicted the winner correctly.

Hot seat
Submitted by TE Editor on 16 September, 2010 - 13:20 This is a good activity for getting your students going in the morning. It is also excellent for revising vocabulary.


First, split your class into different teams (two is best, but if you have a large class, any number could be used). Sit the students facing the board. Then take an empty chair - one for each team - and put it at the front of the class, facing the team members. These chairs are the 'hot seats' Then get one member from each team to come up and sit in that chair, so they are facing their teammates and have their back to the board. As the teacher, have a list of vocabulary items that you want to use in this game. Take the first word from that list and write it clearly on the board. The aim of the game is for the students in the teams to describe that word, using synonyms, antonyms, definitions etc. to their team mate who is in the hot seat - that person can't see the word! The student in the hot seat listens to their team mates and tries to guess the word. The first hot seat student to say the word wins a point for their team. Then change the students over, with a new member of each team taking their place in their team's hot seat. Then write the next word This is a very lively activity and can be adapted to different class sizes. If you have too many teams, perhaps some teams will have to wait to play. Or if the team sizes are large, you can restrict how many team members do the describing. Have fun! This text was originally published on the Teaching English website. Check it out for more activities like this one. By Callum Robertson

I went to the shops

Submitted by Anonymous on 26 November, 2011 - 07:12 This is a classic memory game where each person adds a new item to the list in alphabetical order. For example, student 1: I went to the shops and I bought an apple. Student 2: I went to the shops and I bought an apple and a bike. Student 3: I went to the shops and I bought an apple, a bike and a coat. This game can be adapted to different levels and lexical sets. I recently revised sports and the use of do/ play/ go by playing I went to the sports centre Its the same game, but using different

vocabulary. For example, student 1: I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics." Then I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics and played basketball. and then I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics, played basketball and went canoeing. etc.

In the Teachers Shoes

Submitted by TE Editor on 26 January, 2012 - 07:18 This is great for the first class with a new group or when you come back to class after a holiday or even after a weekend.

Put students into 2 teams. Ask the teams to write five questions theyd like to ask you. Then ask for a volunteer from each team to sit at the front of the class. They are going to imagine they are you, and spend a few minutes in the teachers shoes! The teams ask their questions and the students at the front who are in your shoes must try to answer the questions as they think you would answer them. You decide whose response is closest to your own answer to the question and award points accordingly. (Thanks to Andy Gemmel for this idea.)

Listening race
Submitted by Anonymous on 17 February, 2010 - 08:20 FacebookTwitterEmail This is a game I have been using with my students aged 10 and 11. It is to practise personal descriptions, and works on aural skills. The competitive element makes the children a lot more eager to join in and really listen.

You need to prepare a selection of descriptions. Sentences can include whatever they have been learning: 'My name is..', 'I'm 10 years old', 'I've got one brother and two sisters', etc. Make two sets of all the descriptions you choose to use in the game and cut out the phrases separately. Don't forget to take a record of the sentences you have cut up! The aim of the game is for students to win points for their team by choosing the right sentence according to what the teacher reads out, then be the first to place it on a table at the front of the class. So, separate the children into two teams, and get them to form two lines at the back of the classroom. Put a set of the phrases on a table in front of each team - about halfway down the class - then read out the sentences and the children race to bring the correct phrase to the front. Whoever is first wins a point. If you like children could take it in turns to be the teacher and read out the descriptions.

Lost your voice

Submitted by TE Editor on 6 January, 2010 - 13:15 This is like a role-play activity with no dialogue! It needs a little bit of preparation time for you to write out the problem cards. You can imagine any scenario where functional language would be used, such as at the train station, in a restaurant or at the shops. Set the scene by telling the students where they are.

For this example they are staying in a hotel. One member of the team has lost their voice and has to communicate various problems to the hotel receptionist so he/ she can get it fixed. Ask one member of each team to be the mime artist and give them a problem card with a problem on. You can vary the language level of the problem depending on your students. It could be as simple as The TV doesnt work or the window is broken or a bit more complex like, the shower in my room

doesnt have any hot water. This is what they must communicate to the hotel receptionists through mime. Their team members play the role of hotel receptionists and must guess what the student is trying to say. To make it more challenging and to revise functional language the students should guess what is written on the card word for word to win a point, e.g. Could you help me please? The key to my room doesnt open the door.

Submitted by TE Editor on 2 December, 2011 - 07:53 This is great for those logical-mathematical thinkers. Think of a word (start with a four letter word until you get the hang of it, then you can do it with longer words) and mark four lines, like you would in a game of hang-man. ___ ___ ___ ___

Ask the students to guess four letter words and write them up on the board under the four lines. The key for telling students how close they are to the target word is: One tick = right letter in the right place Two ticks = right letter but in the wrong place. As students make each guess, you must give them the results in key form. To give an example, you are thinking of the word HOME and a student guesses the word HELP. They would get two ticks for the H as it is the right letter in the right place and one tick for the E is in the word but in the wrong place. They keep on guessing until they find the pattern and guess the whole word. You can set a limit of 20 guesses. (Thanks to Ray Smith for demonstrating this one so well in a recent training session.)

Mystery objects
Submitted by Jo Budden on 5 January, 2011 - 10:00 FacebookTwitterEmail The game is good for revising lexical sets and is useful for practising using adjectives. It can be teacher led or played as a team game.


If you want to play it as a team game put students into teams. You (or a student on one of the teams) describe an object. You may decide only to use objects that are in the class, or specific to a place or a topic you've just studied. As you (or the students) describe the object the teams can guess what you're describing. To avoid students shouting out, ask the teams to write their guesses down and bring them to you, or hold them in the air when they have guessed so you can check without interrupting the flow of the description too much. Award a point to the individual or team that gets the answer first.

One word stories

Submitted by Jo Budden on 24 August, 2011 - 15:03 This activity is extremely simple. Each student adds a word to create a group story. Despite the simplicity it can be really challenging and I would only use it with higher levels.

Students should be in a circle (if this isnt possible make it clear they know who they are going to follow on from) The teacher can begin by saying the first word and each student adds the next word, without repeating what has come beforehand. Good starting words are Suddenly or Yesterday to force the story into the past tense. It is great for highlighting word collocations and practising word order. It also highlights problems students may have with tenses or prepositions for you to focus on in future classes. The stories can develop in any number of ways. Some groups may need the teacher to provide punctuation and decide that the sentence should end and a new one should begin. The great thing about this activity is that all students have to concentrate and listen carefully to their colleagues to be able to continue the story coherently. Example: Teacher Yesterday Student 1 I Student 2 saw Student 3 a Student 4 strange Student 5 man Student 6 who Student 7 was Student 8 wearing Student 9 a Student 10 yellow Student 11 hat Teacher Full stop, new sentence Student 12 He Student 13 was Etc. etc.

Pass the ball

Submitted by TE Editor on 19 January, 2011 - 09:48 This game practises adjectives. You need a ball, or a screwed up piece of paper will work fine.


Students and you stand or sit in a circle. Pass the ball to the person next to you in the circle and pretend the ball is really heavy by miming. Tell the person next to you that it's really, really heavy and give it to them. They continue passing the ball around the circle making out it's heavy. Tell students to think of a new adjective each. The ball is going to take on different characteristics as it goes around the circle. When you say the ball is changing' the student who has the ball must pass it to the next student using their adjective instead, and so it goes on until everyone has had a chance to change the ball's form. It could be hot, cold, light, alive, smelly etc! At the end ask students the adjectives they remember and get them to mime them for the others to guess.

Right or Wrong? Right or Left?

Submitted by TE Editor on 10 November, 2010 - 07:55 This is a good way of checking information for younger learners.


Line up the class in a row facing you. Say a sentence and students have to decide if the sentence is right or wrong. For example, Today is Friday' or There are 14 students in our class today' or Mateu is wearing a green jumper'. If the sentence is right students should take a big step to the right. If it's wrong, they should take a big step to the left. When the students get the idea, one of them can make up the sentences. If you like, the last person to step, of the students who step the wrong way, can be eliminated.


Submitted by Anonymous on 12 May, 2010 - 06:41 This is a brilliant game for intermediate level students. The original idea came from a German TV show.

o o
Divided the class into groups of 5 people. Any people left over can be used to time, open and close door, and write the scores on board. Out of the group of 5, 4 are sent out of the classroom. The remaining player is player 1. Player 1 is given a word, for example: trousers. Player 2 is called into the room and player 1 must describe "trousers" to player 2. For example: "You wear these on your legs." When player 2 has guessed the word, he / she must describe it to player 3, but using a different description, e.g.: "Yours are black." And so on until the whole team know the word. Possible other descriptions: "These are an item of clothing, like shorts but longer, men wear these instead of a skirt" Each group is given 1 1/2 minutes for the whole group to have found out the answer The maximum number of points per group in 4. The pupils / students will love this game and will play for hours and hours!!

Scrabble letters
Submitted by TE Editor on 25 November, 2009 - 13:32 FacebookTwitterEmail


This game requires a bit of preparation to prepare the scrabble letters but they can be used with all ages and levels so it may well be a good investment of your time. You need to prepare 5 sets of scrabble letters. Imagine the bag of letters you get in a real Scrabble set. You always get more of the most common letters and not so many of the least common. Bear this in mind when preparing your sets. You could either do them by hand or on the computer. I keep my sets in envelopes as they are easy to transport from class to class. Its a good idea to copy the letters onto different coloured card for each set. If students are working close to each other it makes it easy to separate them at the end and for tasks when you need more letters you can mix two sets together. Download scrabble set Once you have made your sets there are hundreds of things you can do with them. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Spelling tests Divide the class into teams and give each team a set of Scrabble letters. Get them to spread out the letters on the table so theyre all facing up. Then give clues for words you want to test them on, e.g. the day before Wednesday, students write TUESDAY on the table by selecting the

scrabble letters. Whats this in English? point to things in the classroom, draw on the board etc. Once students get the idea, ask one of them to lead the game and give the clues instead of you. Tenses If students are learning the past simple tense, give them the sets of letters and you say the infinitive and they write the past simple forms using the letters. Eg. You say go students write went in scrabble letters. Crosswords Put students in groups and give each group one set of scrabble letters. Ask them to see how many words they can make with their set connecting them up like a crossword. How many words can you make in two minutes? In groups students use a set of letters to see how many different words they can make. The winning group makes the most / longest words. Until you see students in action with the Scrabble letters you may think theres little point in going to the trouble of making the sets of letters. However, energetic young learners who are constantly fiddling find the sets of letters fascinating. A game of scrabble letters, which is effectively a spelling test, can last for ages and students are always reluctant to stop playing. The more you use the letters, the more uses youll find for them.

Stand up sequences
Submitted by TE Editor on 29 September, 2011 - 15:41 This is a good game to practise any standard sequence such as numbers 1 30, days of the week, months of the year, the alphabet etc. Students sit in a circle. Establish which sequence you are going to do and without coordinating with the others, one student should just start by standing up and beginning the sequence. For example, if its the alphabet, one student (any student) will stand up and say A and sit down again. Then another student (anyone) will stand up and say B and so it goes on. If two students stand up at the same time the sequence must begin again from the very beginning. This is good for students to practise using eye contact and turn taking.

Stop the Bus

Submitted by Jo Budden on 23 February, 2012 - 13:26 This is a great game to revise vocabulary and you can use it with any age group and any level by changing the category headings. It really gets students focused and working on task as a team and can be a saviour to fill the last ten minutes on a class when you have run out of ideas!


Put the students into teams of three or four. Draw on the board a table like the ones below and get each team to copy it onto a piece of paper. Students simply have to think of one item to go in each category beginning with the set letter. Give an example line of answers for the first time you play with a new group. The first team to finish shouts Stop the Bus! . Check their answers and write them up on the board and if they are all okay that team wins a point. If there are any mistakes in their words, let the game continue for another few minutes. If it gets too difficult with certain letters (and you cant think of one for each category) reduce the amount of words they have to get. You can say. Ok. For this round you can Stop the Bus with 4 columns.

Animals T Tiger

Colours Turquoise

Food Tuna

Clothes Trousers

Countries Tunisia

Sports Tennis

For higher levels change the category headings. For example: Something in the Something in the Kitchen living room S Spices Sofa something in the something in the bedroom bathroom Sheet Soap something in the Office Staples Something in the garden Seat

Or, for even higher levels: something made of metal B Bike Something made of glass Bottle something made of plastic Bin something made of wood Bench something made of material Belt

By Jo Budden First published 2009

Story telling grid

Submitted by Anonymous on 28 April, 2010 - 08:30


This is a low preparation but high output activity which I have used successfully with teens and adults. The aim of the activity is to get students to orally create a short story in small groups or pairs.


First of all draw a grid on the board and then put one word in each box. You can make your story grid any ize you want but the bigger the grid is the more complicated the activity will become. You can recycle vocabulary that students are currently working on in class in the story grid, but to ensure that students can create a good story you should include a mixture of words, such as people and place names, verbs, nouns, adjectives etc., and it is usually good to throw in words that might give the story a bit more spice, such as crime, love, hate murder, theft, robbery, broken hearted, treasure, accident, etc. Explain to the students that the aim of the activity is to create a story using all the words in the story grid. Students can use any vocabulary or grammar they want to but they have to include all the words in the story grid.

The first time you do this activity you can use the example story grid and model the story telling part of the activity for the students and then give the students another example story grid from the worksheet to use, or you can easily create your own story grid. Download example story and grid 55k pdf Another variation is to get students to create story grids for each other to use. Next get the students to create their own stories in pairs or small groups and once the students have created their stories, they can retell their story to you, the rest of the class or to other groups.

Follow up activities and variations

At the end of the activity the class could vote on the best stories in different categories, for example the most creative story, the most interesting story, the funniest story, the best told story etc. This activity can also be easily developed into a creative writing activity, either individually as homework or as pair or group writing practice. Another interesting spin-off is to get students to rewrite their stories as a radio drama. If you have recording facilities the students can perform and record their radio drama on a cassette to listen to in class. If you do not have recording facilities you can get students to write their story as a short play and try to find them an audience who they can perform to such as another English teacher or another English class.

Feedback on language use

I find it is best to give students individual or group feedback on their language use in a storytelling activity after the students have finished telling the story for the first time. I usually make notes of anything I would like to go over with students while they are telling the story. I find interrupting students to correct their language use while they are telling the story dampens their creative mood and restricts their language use. If the students are going to record their story or perform it live, I get them to perform it to me again so I can help them with their language before they record it or perform it to an audience outside of the class. This activity was originally published on the BBC | British Council Teaching English website. Find more activities like this one.

Submitted by Jo Budden on 2 March, 2011 - 07:42 To play a class version of the popular word game, Taboo, prepare your taboo cards by writing the target word at the top and three words that your students arent allowed to use in their definition below. The idea is that students have to define the target word without using any of the three words given on the card. Use words you want to recycle from previous classes. When students have got the idea, they can make a set of taboo cards as well so you build up a stock. An example could be: BICYCLE

wheels transport ride

Talking points
Submitted by Jo Budden on 24 March, 2011 - 09:20 You need scraps of paper and dice for this activity. You will need 12 bits of paper and two dice for each group of between 3 and 6 students.


Put the students into groups and ask each group to write 12 topics they are interested in on the scraps of paper. Tell the students to put the bits of paper face down on the table and to write the numbers 1 to 12 on the side facing up. Give each group two dice. Students take turns to throw the dice, they turn over the corresponding bit of paper and the whole group talks for two minutes about that topic. After two minutes call out throw again'. If a different number comes up they turn over that paper and change topic, if it's the same number they keep talking about the same topic for another two minutes. And so on until they have no bits of paper left, or you run out of time!

Talking topics

Submitted by Jo Budden on 1 June, 2011 - 08:24 This simple board game provides an excellent way to give students a bit of free speaking practice. You can choose your own topics either based on the topics you've covered in lessons or topics that you think will be of interest to your students. Download game board

Print off a copy of the board and fill in the squares with topics your students could talk about for one minute. Choose topics theyve covered in classes with you or general ones such as friends, family, music, TV, hobbies, last weekend, next weekend, holidays, English classes (!), food, films etc. etc. You could also add in a few go back three spaces or miss a go squares. Making the game could be a class activity if you ask your students to prepare the boards for each other in groups then they can swap boards and youll have a whole class set to use. If talking for a minute is too difficult for your students, they can write questions in the squares to ask the person to their right/left as they move around the board. If you dont have dice to use, use a coin and make heads mean they move on one space and tails t hey move on two. This will obviously take longer than with a dice. If your students enjoy playing board games they could make their own in small groups.

Telephone Wires

Submitted by Jo Budden on 17 June, 2010 - 08:11 This is the classic childrens party game sometimes known as Chinese whispers.

A sentence is whispered around the circle of students. The last student to receive the message either says it aloud or writes it on the board. This can be a fun way to introduce a topic and activate schema at the beginning of a class. For example, for a class on food, whisper the question, What did you have for lunch today? Equally, at the end of a class it can be a nice way to revise structures or vocabulary from the lesson. A variation of this is to get the students into two lines (team A and B) in front of the board, so the first student in both lines is really near the board and the teams are lined up behind him/her. You whisper a sentence or a question to the two students at the end of the line and they pass it down the line until it reaches the students nearest the board who then have to write the sentence on the board.

Another variation is to play the game into and out of the students own language. You whisper the starting sentence in English. The next student translates into their own language and passes it on, the next one translates it back into English and so on until it gets to the end. If you choose your sentences carefully this can be a fun way to look at your learners common mistakes which come fro m mother tongue interference. This version can work well in teams too. By Jo Budden

The Chat Room

Submitted by Jo Budden on 9 June, 2010 - 07:09 This activity was presented to me by a teacher I met a couple of years ago on a training course, so thanks go to Carme for this one. It can be especially useful if you have to substitute a class at the last minute as it takes no preparation at all. Each student needs a blank piece of paper and a pen. Tell them they are going into a pre-historic internet chat room so they all need to decide on a nickname. Tell students that you are going to be the net and you will need to stand in the middle of the circle to exchange the papers. Explain that the net has gone a little bit crazy and they cant send messages to specific people. If you have a big group ask a student or two to help you be the net in the middle. Give students an example of how to start. Eg. Pingu: How are you feeling today? As students complete their questions they should hold the paper in the air and then you swap the papers over as if their messages are being sent. They then reply to the one theyve just received and so it goes on until each student has a page full of chat. Then give the papers back to the student who wrote the initial question and they can see how the chat developed. This could lead on to talking about the internet, or chat rooms or you could use the text to do some error correction. As students have been writing quickly there will probably be lots of silly mistakes they can correct themselves.

The Coffeepot game

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 June, 2010 - 10:19 This game is good for practising and reviewing action verbs and adverbs.Procedure

o o o

One student has to think of a verb, but not tell the others. The other students then try to guess the verb by asking questions. The missing verb can be substituted with coffeepot Example questions: Why do you coffee pot? Where do you coffee pot? Do you coffee pot by yourself? Do you need any special equipment for coffee potting? Make sure the students ask questions and don't just guess the verb. You could put the students in teams to try to guess the verb and award points to the teams for getting the correct verb. It might be wise for you to demonstrate the game first with the students asking you questions.

The Press Conference

Submitted by TE Editor on 10 November, 2011 - 13:36 This is a longer activity that needs some preparation. Its great for practising question forms in a fun way and gives structured speaking practice to lower levels. You will need a sticky label for each student or a pack of Post-It notes. Tell students that they have got the job of reporter for a magazine about famous people. They are going to interview some famous people and they need to prepare some general questions they can ask any famous person actors, singers, sports stars, politicians etc. Give some examples, like, Do you enjoy your job? or Are you happy being so famous? and get students to write four questions and put them into a table with the questions going down the left hand side and space for five columns to the right. Then ask students which famous person they would like to be and give each one a sticky label or a Post-It note for them to write the name of the famous person on and stick on themselves. Put students into two concentric circles with the inner circle facing out and outer circle facing in. Tell students that they are going to interview the person directly in front of them for two minutes and note down all the information they find out. They are also going to be interviewed. The facing pairs take turns in the different roles of interviewer and famous person. At two minute intervals shout stop and ask the outer circle to step one person to the right. Shout start to give students two mor e minutes with a new famous person. When each student has interviewed and been interviewed five or six times stop the activity and seat students. The information they have gathered about the famous people can then be shared with the group orally or used for a piece of writing for a gossip magazine. If you have an odd number rotate one person out of the circle each time you move the other circle around. This person can help you to monitor and can walk around the circle listening to the others in action and making a note of any mistakes they hear. This activity gets very noisy with a large group but it can be a great way to keep students speaking English for quite a long period of time and you will probably see how their confidence grows as they get the hang of asking and answering the questions.

The Yes and No game

Submitted by Jo Budden on 14 April, 2010 - 12:42 Nominate one student to be in the hot seat, slightly apart from the rest of the circle. The rest of the group must think of questions to ask the student in the hot seat. They can ask anything they like, the only rule is that the student in the hot seat must answer the questions without using the words yes or no. Also ban yeah, head nods and shakes! For example, a student asks, Are you wearing je ans today? The student in the hot seat could reply, I am or you can see that theyre jeans!

Two word games

Submitted by Anonymous on 10 March, 2010 - 15:48


The following games can be played throughout the school year but are also very useful as a round up at the end of term. You can play them a few times. First play with the whole class and then try in groups (good for mixed ability groups).

1. Guess the word (can be used for abstract nouns)

Choose five words relating to recent conversational themes. Write sets of clues to help students guess the words. Play with whole class or teams. Use one word per lesson over five lessons or use all words in one session as a longer game.

Example clues:

I am a noun but I am very important.

I begin with the letter f. People in prison have lost it and want it back. People demand it when it is taken away by dictators. It is related to speech. (Puzzle word = Freedom)

2. Get rid of it
This game can be adapted for matching definitions to words or matching opposites. You need two sets of cards. White cards for the words and another colour (yellow?) for the questions. Put all questions in a bag or hat at the start of the game.

Give each student at least three word cards, placed in front of them on their desks. Choose one card from the hat and read the question. Students study their word cards. Whoever has the corresponding word can get rid of it. The winner gets rid of all his cards first.

Example questions on cards:

What type of animal has kittens? Whats the opposite of the verb to borrow? What do you call a person who cuts hair? Where can you buy medicine?

What's my line?
Submitted by Jo Budden on 11 May, 2011 - 16:20 The classic guessing game! Players take it in turns to ask another player questions in order to discover their job.


Students take turns in coming to the front of the class or sitting in the hot seat' and thinking of a job. The rest of the class must ask them questions in order to guess the job they're thinking of. For example, do you work at night?', do you wear a uniform?' etc. If the class ask ten questions without being able to guess the job the student who was thinking of the job wins.

What's on my head?

Submitted by Duncan M on 27 April, 2011 - 06:15 This activity is an adaptation of the original Hedbanz and is good for practising or revising vocabulary in general or it can be related to a specific topic. This activity works well with lower intermediate and higher levels and it can be stretched and used as part of a lesson, as a warmer or filler.

You will need rubber bands, mini-flashcards and a timer (or a sand clock). Little flashcards can either be made by the students themselves or given by the teacher (timeconsuming and more expensive e.g. if laminated, but worthwhile). For the mini-flashcards you will need blank cut outs the size of a business card (or slightly bigger) and markers. As a whole class, get students to think of... an animal, a fruit, an object, a famous person, a

colour, a place/country, etc and ask them to write down each word on a different card. Ss can draw a picture next to the word for the most difficult ones. Collect the cards and shuffle.


Divide the class into groups of 4's or more and get each student to wear a band around their head. Give a bunch of cards to each group, making sure all cards are facing down. In turns, each student grabs a card and, without looking at it, places it on his/her forehead, so that the rest of the group can see it. Each member of the group takes turns to ask questions until he/she guesses what is on the card. The other members of the group should only say yes and no, or give short answers. Set a time limit per person (1-2 mins). Students should come up with questions like Am I a person? - No Am I a place/country? - No Am I an animal? - Yes Where would you find me? - In the forest Which country? - India Do I live in the water? - No Am I a big or small animal? - Big Do I have black stripes? - Yes Am I a tiger? - Yes

o o o o o o o o o

Word Snakes
Submitted by TE Editor on 9 March, 2011 - 15:18 This is a simple word game to start or finish a lesson. You can adapt it to any topic youre doing or one you want to revise. A word snake is simply a chain of words where the following word starts with the last letter of the previous word. Here are a few examples. Food Spinach ham melon nuts sausage egg garlic cheese.. Animals Giraffe elephant tiger rhinoceros spider rat turtle This game is harder than it looks so offer students lots of help and support, and maybe even a dictionary.

Writing consequences
Submitted by TE Editor on 2 December, 2009 - 07:57 This is a fun activity to create a group story. Each student needs a blank sheet of paper and a pen. If possible, sit in a circle shape to play. Each student adds one stage to the story then folds the paper to cover the information and passes the paper to the student on the right. At each stage, before folding and passing to the student on the right, give these instructions.

Write the name of a man. It can be a famous man or a man everyone in the class knows. (Depending on the group, allow them to put the names of class mates)

Write the name of a woman. It can be a famous woman or a woman everyone in the class knows. (Depending on the group, allow them to put the names of class mates) Write the name of a place where the two people meet. When they meet, he says something to her. What does he say? Students write what he says to her. She replies to the man. What does she say? Whats the consequence of this encounter? What happens? Whats the opinion of the whole story. What does the world say as a comment? The end result is a mixed up story that can often be amusing. Read yours as an example of how you want the students to tell the story. Then invite students one by one to unfold their stories and read them to the group. Depending on the level you can encourage use of connectors, reported speech etc. By Jo Budden