Vocabulary games can help you remember words and learn the differences between similar words.
This page lists online (interactive) or pdf vocabulary games on this website. You can play these even if you are alone, and not in an English class.
Their purpose is to practice learning a particular group of words. Often these are academic words related to a theme like technology or research on a subject.
Vocabulary game sections include
Most of the words in these practice activities are very common in English. (They’re not beginner vocabulary, though.)
Many are Academic Vocabulary (mainly from the Academic Word List). The words in the puzzles often come from one or more interesting articles on the Internet. (Some have a link to those articles after the practice so you can read the words in context.) You can also practice some on (linked) quizzes.
Sign up for English Detective, our free newsletter, for systematic English vocabulary practice. Most of these games and activities came from there. (See the sign up form on the right column-- or at the bottom of the page.)
Games are one of the best ways to learn vocabulary. Categorizing and manipulating words helps make neural connections in the brain. So they help you remember words better (and remind you of what you already know.)
Many subjects have several activities to give more practice with important AWL words. Some words overlap, but many are on only one or two pages. There are too many words in many areas to teach in just one game.
Several of these pages have explanations of the words before the practice. If you prefer, try the game first. You can check the explanations afterward if you have questions.
Many of these games also link to a pdf version so you can practice the same game offline. Some games also have a section for choosing the best categories for words. These sections are not interactive. You can use a pencil and paper to write the category and the words that belong there.
For collections of inexpensive vocabulary game pdfs for classrooms, see Vocabulary Worksheets.
I moved some former sections of this page to TOEFL & IELTS Vocabulary Practice. (Gap fills and multiple-choice activities are not "games." They are useful practice activities, though.
Matching Word Roots and their Meanings
* Each of these memory game pages has a link to its mobile version. If you have a small screen and it isn't easy to use the regular 4x3 card grid, click the mobile link in the first or second paragraph. The mobile version has a long, narrow (2x6) grid of cards to turn over.
Unscramble words games let you practice English word formation and spelling. (They're also called word scrambles or word jumbles.)
The explanation for all these games is on the first unscramble words game. You can reach any of the other games from that page or this one. (Each word is on a separate page because of their interactive coding.)
I split them by part of speech or subject to make them easier. If you don't want any hints, try the Mixed Group games.
All the words in the adjective and noun unscrambles are in the most common 60 words of the Academic Word List. They're not short words, but they are important.
AWL Level 1 Unscramble Words Adjective Game 1 (Index page), Adjectives Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5, Game 6.
AWL Level 1 Nouns Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.
Government Vocabulary Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.
Mixed Games (AWL and Government Vocabulary): Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 5.
For more game ideas to help your English, see ESL Games. (It links to many group games as well.) For quizzes related to the games on this page, see ESL Quizzes and Tests.
Academic Vocabulary Word Lists shows the themes, readings, and quizzes associated with games on this page.
It's organized by newsletter number, but you can do a search (Control-F-- for "find") on those pages for each game's name. Most of the games above are listed in the same order. The first games in each category are from the earliest newsletters.
See Vocabulary Worksheets and Root, Prefix, and Suffix Worksheets for free or inexpensive packets of related academic vocabulary practice.
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