ESOL Games in the Classroom

Last week we did a post on different games that can be played in the adult ed classroom. This week we’ll go over a few games that will be beneficial to the ESOL classroom. These are variations on popular games that you can continue to modify for your students.


Taboo (thanks to ESLInsider)
This is a great game that works well with almost all levels of learners. To play this game first divide your class into two or more groups (more for larger classes) and place one chair (one for each group) in front of the room facing the class. So if you have two groups then you’ll have two chairs in front facing the class.

Have a student from each group come forward and sit in those chairs. The teacher then writes a word on the board (which is behind the two students), so that the rest of the class can see. The groups have to give the students sitting in the chairs a clue to the word that is written on the board without actually saying it. They can say synonyms, antonyms or other words associated with it. The students sitting in front have to guess the word. If you like you can give the team who guesses first a plus one and then have another set of students come forward to sit and do it again.

20 Questions (Thanks to
This game is a variation on the traditional ‘Twenty Questions’. Unlike the traditional game, which starts with the question ‘Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?’, this version starts with the question-master stating the general topic of whatever he or she is thinking of (animals, countries, foods, sports, actors, actresses, singers, bands, movies, T.V. shows) or another topic related to whatever your students have recently studied.

Put the topic cards face down in a pile on a table at the front of the classroom. Ask for a student to volunteer to be the first question-master. This student then comes forward and takes the top card and thinks of something relevant to the card’s topic. After writing this on the piece of paper, he or she then states the topic. Players begin asking ‘Yes or No’ questions. If the question is grammatically correct, the  player earns a point and the question-master answers it. If the question is not grammatically correct, another player may try to ask the same question correctly for the chance of earning a point. If any player thinks he or she knows what the question-master is thinking of, he or she should say so. If it is not correct, the question-master earns one point and play continues as before. If it is correct, the player guessing earns three points and becomes the next question-master.

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