ESL Games are some of the best ways to practice the English you’re learning. Because they’re fun, they are a great break from memorizing and drill. They provide the repetition you need without “boring you to tears.”
Are you afraid of making mistakes? Games are even more valuable if you’re embarrassed to use your English in front of anyone.
Focusing on the challenges of the game relieves anxiety and self-consciousness. It frees your mind to process English words and structures at a deeper level.
Games are great for classrooms for the same reasons.They're a way to encourage speaking in English without pressure.
There’s a wonderful variety of games available for English practice.
There are group games for classes or parties, or to play with your friends. There are also many games you can play alone.
For both group and individual printable (pdf) games for ESL classes, see Printable ESL Classroom Games.
Team Games include Charades, Taboo, and class relays. Teams can play Jeopardy- style games, or you can play them online, with a friend or alone.
Classes can play 20 Questions (The Question Game) and similar Guess-what-I’m thinking games. They can also play simple commercial or teacher-made board games. Scrabble and most other commercial word games are good for advanced students. (Remember, they are designed for native English speakers.)
There are suggestions for using them on The Question Game and Multiplayer Free Word Games.
The game pages on this site emphasize practice for lessons on EnglishHints.com. See Vocabulary Games and Activities for matching games, crosswords, fill-ins, and Odd One Out. There are Concentration (Memory) games to practice several language lessons.
My students and I have played Concentration with hand-made cards, offline. It’s lots of fun! It's also excellent practice matching the pasts and presents of irregular verbs, as we did. It's also good for matching words and their definitions. Beginners can match words with their pictures.)
Children often match a pair of identical pictures, or playing cards. (Sort playing cards to ensure there are two of each type of card used. There could be a three of diamonds and a three of clubs, or two jacks or queens, etc.)
For instructions and links to various concentration games, go to Concentration Games.
You can also go directly to Custom Memory Game 1, or Custom Memory Game 2 for the phrasal verb games.
You can match words from three Latin roots with their meanings at Roots Memory Game 1, Memory Game 2, and Memory Game 3.
Match irregular past tenses with their present tenses with Irregular Verb Memory Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3.
Each of those game pages has a link to its mobile version. If you have a small screen, try turning it (landscape mode.) If you still can't see the full regular 4x3 card grid, click the mobile link in the first or second paragraph. You'll get a long, narrow (2x6) grid of cards to turn over.
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