Vocabulary is the most important part of foreign language learning. The more words the students know, the livelier their language and the closer to fluency they get. So how to enrich the ESL vocab of your students in a way that is fun and engaging? In this article, we are going to share some attention-grabbing vocabulary games ideas that will lead to exciting results in English language learning for your students. We already covered general games for ESL students, so these will focus strictly on vocabulary.
Word BingoHow do you play this vocabulary game?
- Draw simple bingo grids with one word per each square. For younger students, you can replace the written words with pictures.
- Hand out those grids to the students. Each student should receive a unique grid.
- Call out the words that should be marked by the students in the grid.
- The winner is the one who completes the grid first.
HangmanHangman is one of the most popular English games. So, how does it become an ESL vocabulary game?
- Choose a secret word and don’t reveal it to the students. Try to line up the difficulty of the word to the knowledge level of your students.
- Draw a blank square for each letter in the word.
- The students start guessing the letters.
- Each time the students guess a correct letter, fill it into the square where it occurs.
- When the students name a wrong letter, start drawing a “hangman”, i.e. a schematic figure of a man hanging on the gallows. First you should draw the lines arranged as upside-down “L” that represent the gallows, then the hangman’s head and the body. Finally, you should draw a rope.
- After you draw a rope, the players have lost this ESL game. The players win this vocabulary words game when they guess the correct word before you finish the hangman drawing.
Taboo WordsTaboo Words belongs to the most fun games to learn English. Here’s how you play as an ESL vocab activity.
- Write a taboo word on a piece of paper. This word should be very simple.
- Choose one of your students that will see this word.
- The other students who don’t see the word should ask this student a series of questions. He or she should avoid the taboo word when answering those questions.
- You can enhance this vocabulary review game by adding more taboo words.
20 Objects20 Objects belongs to the word memorizing vocab building games. How do you play it?
- Show your students 20 physical objects and let them look at the objects for one minute.
- Hide the objects, e.g. by covering them with a cloth.
- Give your students time to write down the names of the objects that they’ve just seen.
- The winner is the one who remembers most objects.
AcronymsHow to play?
- On a board, write down a short word, which contains 3 to 5 letters.
- Ask the students to make up new words that start with each letter of the base word.
- The words should form a coherent phrase or sentence, even an absurd one. For example, “WORD – When Only Rainbows Dance.”
Short Words Out Of a Long WordHow to play?
- Choose a long, complicated word and write it down on the board.
- The students should form as many new words as possible by using only the letters from this word.
- It’s up to you to decide which words should be formed, e.g. only nouns, nouns and adjectives or any words.
CategoriesHow to play?
- Write down several categories, such as food, furniture, clothes, nature, etc.
- Give the students a random letter.
- Ask them to write down a word for each category that starts with that letter.