Language Games for Adults

by Sophia McMillan
(Shane Training Centre, Japan)


Whatsit: "Whatsit" uses verbs or nouns. Have one learner sit with their back to the board and another learner writes or draws a mystery word they all know on the board (word cards can be used to prompt where necessary). The guesser must then ask questions to guess the word using “whatsit” in place of the unknown word e.g. if verbs are being used: "Can you whatsit?", "When do you whatsit?" If nouns are being used: "Can you eat a whatsit?", "Can you wear a whatsit?" etc


Forbidden Words: Write three ‘forbidden’ words on the board, e.g. blue, car, night. Have one learner volunteer and the rest of the class asks questions to try and get them to use the forbidden words. E.g. S2 - What colour is my shirt? S1 – It’s the colour of the sky S2 – When do you sleep? S1 – When it is dark. Etc.

Words from Words: Write a fairly long English word on the board. Set a time limit of 3-5 min. In pairs learners make as many words as they can using only the letters of the word on the board. E.g. INTERNATIONAL = late, in, ran etc. Be sure to demonstrate this clearly.

Twenty Questions: Revise questions such as “Can you..?”, “Do you have a ..?” “Do you like ..?, “Are you ..?” etc. Hand out animal flashcards (words or pictures) and have the learners mingle (or in pairs) ask questions to find out what animal their partner is. This game can also be played using famous people, inanimate objects, countries etc depending on the learners’ level.

Good News/Bad News: Give the learners a starting sentence and in turns they respond with some good or bad news related to that sentence. E.g. I bought a new TV yesterday, S1 Unfortunately I left it in the shop, S2 Fortunately I
remembered before I caught the train, S3 Unfortunately I dropped it S4 Fortunately I fixed it etc. Once this has been successfully modelled as a group the class can be split into pairs or small groups and given the same starting sentence and a time limit and see where they end up.

Name Tag Game: Before the lesson prepare a set of name tags (words or pictures) of famous people (alternatively have your learners make them). Learners mingle taking on the character of the person whose badge they are wearing. Alternatively, place the tags on the learners’ backs and have them ask and answer questions to determine who they are. This game can also be played with animals, jobs, countries etc.

Telephone Game: Write numbers from 0 to 9 and words with confusing sounds alongside each number on the board. EG 1 = sat; 2 = that; 3 = say; 4 = they; 5 = sink; 6 = think; 7 = sank; 8 = thank; 9 = song; 0 = thong.

Have the learners swap telephone numbers (real or imagined) by saying the words that correspond to the numbers on the board. For example 254338 would be that, sink, they, say, say, thank. The first person to shout out the correct number is the winner.

Chain Spelling: Give the class/group a word and the next learner should think of a new word that starts with the last letter of the previous word and so on around the group. The game continues until someone makes a mistake, that is, to pronounce the word incorrectly, misspell it or come up with a word that has been said already, then they are out. The last one remaining in the game is the winner. This game can be made difficult by limiting the words to a certain category, e.g. food, tools, or nouns, verbs, etc.

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