5 Easy “No-Equipment” Games for ESL Classes

simon says

In no particular order, these are all some great games that I routinely “pull out of my bag’ when there is, um, like 25 extra minutes of class and I have nothing else to do.  They’re simple, fun, and easy to adapt to all levels!

[Click each title to see how to play the games]

  1. Simon Says– Great for learning rules, commands, parts of the body (touch your stomach), and verbs.  Younger kids especially love this one.
  2. Taboo– ok, this one does require Taboo cards, put I usually keep a small set of cards in bag that I update with new words every few weeks.  You can easily find lists of pre-made words/ cards that just need to be printed.  For younger/ early learners, I do allow them to use the “forbidden words” to help them describe (otherwise they do a lot of “um…um…um….no se profe!!), or, if they are very low level, I let them draw pictures.
  3. 20 Questions– really great for learning new vocab, learning to ask questions properly (it is made of wood? NOOOO!  IS IT MADE OF WOOD?).  Encourage students to think creatively and only allow them to 
    “guess” when it is their turn so that students aren’t screaming out random words.
  4. Two truths and one lie– this is a fun “get-to-know-you” game that students of all ages enjoy.  Encourage the students to choose lies that could be true to make the game more interesting.
  5. New Have I Ever– a great game for learning the past participle!  “I have never….been on….eaten….seen…slept…etc.”.  I play this game with a set of irregular verb cards and the student chooses a card (like grow, for example) and then creates a sentence (Never Have I Ever grown my own garden).  If any of the students have done it, then put a finger down.  Students that “run out of fingers” lose.  *Remind students to only use appropriate examples.

These are my favorites!  Hope it sparks some fun for you 😉

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