TEFL Resources

English through Games

TEFL Resources - How to teach an English through Games class for teenagers to adults, some lists of recommended games, and some games you recommend.

What is the purpose of a game in the context of a EFL or ESL classroom?

To me, games provide another means of learning or reinforcing already learned English, in a fun and interactive way. I love the way games bring our students together. They create a feeling of comradery in an environment that is often very scary to the EFL student - the English classroom itself.

After playing some games, that teach or reinforce English well, I am confident you will notice a difference in the atmosphere of your classes. There is a kind of warmth that is palpable after the students have played games together. TEFL resources such as board, card or games of another sort add to the class.

Some more conservative teachers, feel there is no need for fun and games in the EFL classroom. They argue there are much better TEFL resources available, or better activities in general one can do.

Do these activities create the warmth I am talking about above? -a benefit to the class dynamic that will make your whole term go better.

That is what games can do in an EFL classroom, not only teach or reinforce English knowledge, but make the whole atmosphere better for other more traditional activities.



Please add to this list at the link below, and tell us which games you have found effective in the EFL/ESL classroom. Did you adapt them somehow, or use them as is?

Know of a good game for the EFL/ESL Classroom?

Tell us about some of the games you use in the classroom. Have a tip on games for teaching or reinforcing EFL? Share it!




False Beginner - Elementary Level Students

TEFL Resources - Some Recommended Games for this Level:

Speaker Friendly, Word Up, The Japan Game, Zombies, Monopoly, The Game of Life, Guess Where, Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, Guess Who, Guess Where, Clue, Bang, Rock Talk.

Speaker Friendly, Rock Talk, and Word Up were designed for the EFL classroom, and are perfect additions to your classes. They reinforce English that has been previously taught or in some cases, teaches English that hasn`t yet been learned. The students learn together in a group. Isn`t that the best way in many cases?

The other games are appropriate to various degrees.

Monopoly is a fun way to practice reading skills for junior high classes, while playing a game. It also reinforces numbers. Zombies also reinforces reading and can stimulate conversation concerning game strategy.

Settlers of Catan and Puerto Rico are capable of teaching many things, but for the EFL classroom, they teach some basic vocabulary, and phrases. You could also have each student ask another student a question each turn, just to create a bit more interaction.

Guess Where and Clue can be used to reinforce talking about locations in the house. Guess Where is perfect for that as is. Just teach them the basic phrases to ask and answer, and go over the vocabulary. "Is grandmother in the kitchen?" Yes she is./No she isn`t.

"Is the dog in the yard?"

Junior high students love the game and so do lower level university students.

Bang Is a fun diversion for junior high students. It is a four player game so suitable for small classes. There is some reading practice, basic phrase practice and some conversation between players.

Some games are appropriate for beginner to advanced students.

Intermediate - Advanced Students

TEFL Resources - Ready Made Games for Upper Level Students:

Rock Talk, Diplomacy, Colonial Diplomacy, Word Up, The Japan Game, Zombies, Kamakura, Colonial Diplomacy, A Game of Thrones, Civilization

Diplomacy,Colonial Diplomacy, Kamakura, and A Game of Thrones use the same game mechanics. They are all, area movement war games with simple mechanics. The simplicity of the games, coupled with the fact that you learn one, you know the others, leads to replayability. The challenging part for students is that they must negotiate with other students on strategy.

In Diplomacy and Colonial Diplomacy, each student or team of students represent a country, in Kamakura - a clan of ancient Japan, and in A Game of Thrones - one of the kingdoms from the set of fantasy books by the same name by George R. R. Martin.

Civilization is a much more complicated game, but not only can it teach some English, but teach some history too.

Some other activities for a game friendly classroom:

Project - Teach a Japanese Game

Students must use English to teach their teacher and the other students in the class a Japanese game. ie) Igo, Shogi or another.

Project- Teach us an International Game

Use the library or internet to research games of the world, then use English to teach us how to play that game.

A Game of Thrones

Read an easier version of those books or watch the HBO TV series, do some listening activities from the series (ie) listen/close - fill in the blanks listening activities), then play A Game of Thrones.

Make a Game Project

Make a game for teaching English, Japanese history or politics using English, or another game that involves the use of English.

The Name of the Rose

Watch the movie or read the book as a class project (advanced students) then play the boardgame the Mystery of the Abbey or a similar yet more complex game, The Name of the Rose.

Murder Mystery Party

Read a murder mystery book for class. Discuss the story, perhaps watch a murder mystery movie and have the students do a listening activity to do with the movie as well as answer comprehension questions, then hold your own

mystery party.


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