Hieroglyphics is a great alternative to charades you can use in adult classes.

This ESL Game is a twist on the classic ESL game Charades.   In Charades, Students act out a word or phrase without speaking while their classmates try to guess what it is.  Charades is a great game for kids. But sometimes in high school and adult classes, charades gets a little uncomfortable.


Hieroglyphics is the perfect solution!

The Details About Hieroglyphics

  • This game works with any class size.
  • It's a great alternative to charades that works very well in high school or adult lessons.
  • The only materials you'll need are a marker and a whiteboard

How To Play Hieroglyphics:

  1. I usually don't even introduce this game.  I find a short phase that uses the lesson's target language and then I write one diagonal dash on the board for each word in the phrase.
  2. Start drawing pictures that represent the first word in your puzzle.  Your students will figure out what you're trying to do almost immediately.
  3. After your class guesses the first word, move on to the second one.
  4. Repeat until your class has solved the puzzle.   After your students solve the puzzle, split them into teams, remove yourself from the game and repeat the activity.
  5. Enjoy!

Hieroglyphics:

  1. I works great with any size of class.
  2. There's almost no materials required   
  3. It's just about as simple as a classroom game can get.

ESL Game #028 – The Paper Crane (an exercise in circumlocution)

Making a Paper Crane was probably the first ESL Game (ish) activities I learned as a new teacher living in Japan and it hasn't let me down yet.   This activity is awesome for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it really causes students to think about what they are saying and find ways to describe things that they aren't used to speaking about.    This activity is also highly adaptable.  You can use it in adult man-to-man lessons, small groups of high school students or with large classes of elementary students.   You just have to be able to gauge your students and make sure the language you're asking for is level appropriate.  

The Details About The Paper Crane

  • This game requires NO PREPARATION.   It's an awesome back up plan to always have in your back pocket.
  • The only materials you'll need are a few pieces of paper and a pair of scissors.
  • This game is highly adaptable but works easiest with higher level students.
  • A game can last between 10  - 30 minutes.  The length of the activity is entirely based on how hard you make it for the students.
  • How To Play The Paper Crane :

    1. To teach this exercise I find it works best to ask the entire class to each makes a crane.  This just helps them remember the process.  It also kind of puts students on the hook so that they have to speak.  They've shown you that they know how to perform the objective, so they won't be able to back out at a later point.
    2. Then, play stupid (this generally isn't very hard for me).  Say you don't know how to make a crane (or airplane, make coffee, etc) and ask your students how to do it.  They will instinctively try and pick up the paper to show you.  
    3. Simply smile and inform them that they are not allowed to use their hands.  Next, they all gasp in horror when they realise their lesson just got a lot harder.  
    4. When they try to give you directions, it will be very difficult at first.   Depending on your teaching style, your students ability and how much time you have, you adjust how much you're willing to help them.     For example, if a student tells you to "fold the paper" there is many ways you can fold it.  You can fold it in half lengthways, across the middle, make a triangle, etc.  
    5. It's important to let your class struggle a little bit.  If they have difficulty at first the payoff of completing the activity will increase the level of confidence they have in their own English ability by the end of the activity.   It's important you don't let your students struggle too much.  If they think it's impossible, your class will stop paying attention.
    6. At this point, I will usually take a step back and offer the class a few extra words that might help them perform the task e.g. fold, crease, turn over, repeat, etc.  I like to keep the list short just so that they still have searched for the right words.
    7. This ESL game can be as short or as long as you want to make it.  If your students are really advanced don't give them any vocabulary clues. If their lower level students work with them and act like you did it together.  Either way when students finish this activity they always have a real sense of accomplishment.  In reality, I've done this about 20 times already and I still can't figure how to make a paper crane.  

    Have fun in class!


    Teach the past tense with Fortunately / Unfortunately.

    Fortunately/Unfortunately is an awesome ESL game for teaching the simple past tense.  It requires listening, speaking and a lot of creativity.

    The Details:

    • There are no materials required.
    • You can play with between 2 and 10 participants.
    • A game should take between 5 and 15 minutes depending on your classes size and ability.

    How To use Fortunately/Unfortunately to teach the simple past tense:

    1. Pre-teach the words fortunately and unfortunately.
    2. Divide your class into 2 teams: Optimists & Pessimists.
    3. Tell your team of optimists that it’s their duty to always look on the bright side of things.  They must begin every sentence with the word “fortunately”.
    4. Conversely, your team of pessimists must always see the negative side of every situation.  They have to start every sentence with the word “unfortunately”.
    5. The teacher starts by making a random statement about something that happened earlier in the day, e.g., ” I talked to a famous actor at lunch today”.
    6. Then the optimists must then expand on the story by adding an extra detail about talking to the famous person while using the simple past tense, e.g.,  “fortunately, they looked really cool”.
    7. The pessimists must then add the next link to the story, e.g.,  “unfortunately,  they smelled really bad”.
    8. The process continues until one team cannot think of an appropriate response.  Depending on how the game is going you can either restart the game with a new story or end the activity.

    ESL Games_FortunatelyUnfortunately simple pastHere’s an example of Fortunately/Unfortunately that my students used in class (I’ve edited out the mistakes).

    Teacher: I saw Tom Cruz at the lunch today.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, he looked really handsome.

    Pessimists: Unfortunately, he didn’t speak to me.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, he smiled at me.

    Pessimists: Unfortunately, he kicked me in the leg.

    Optimists:  Fortunately, it didn’t hurt.

    This ESL game has little to no structure.  It’s fun, crazy and gets everyone talking while practicing the past tense.

    Enjoy!

     

    If you think that this ESL story chain is a great way of teaching the simple past tense you’ll love this game as well.

    How To Review Any Target Language With The Game – Rapid Question and Answer

    One of the hardest things about teaching EFL classes is finding ways to make language drilling and repetition fun.  This classroom game makes drilling a breeze.  Your students will happily practice any target language as many times as you see fit and when your lesson is over, they will beg you to play more.  Sound impossible?  Well then you've never played Rapid Questions and Answers!

    The Details About Rapid Questions & Answers:

    • ​This game combines language review, competition and a time limit.
    • ​It will work with any target language.
    • ​You can easily adjust this game so that it works with students from the ages of 3 to 103!  
    • This game works perfectly as a language review.
    Rapid Questions and Answers Game play - Easy ESL Games

    Materials:


    In this example we are teaching Food as our topic.  And "What's your favorite food?   My Favorite food is ___________" as our Target Language.

    ​E.x.

    Q - What's your favorite food?

    A - My favorite food is strawberries.​

    A - My favorite food is grapes.​

    A - My favorite food is pizza.​


    Here's How To Play Rapid Questions & Answers

    1. This game is all about repetition.  All you need to do is set up a timer and define an objective.  
    2. In the game Launch Across the objective is to make rows of balls.  Steve made this game all about using the target language.  Each time a student makes a sentence that uses the target language they get to shoot one ball in the hopes of building a line of balls. 
    3. Set the timer for an appropriate time (shorter for younger students longer for older students).  We definitely recommend keeping the time limits to a minute or less.  More than a minute is even hard for a native English speaker!
    4. Show your students the AGO Card you are using and give a few example answers.
    5. Start the timer and let the games begin.
    6. When the timer expires check to see if anyone made a line.  If not, you can either count the balls to see who got the most into the game board or play again.  It's important to remember that you're the teacher.  If you need to adjust the rules, it's okay.
    7. Repeat this process until 2 minutes before it gets boring.  That way your students will want to play again and again.

    Rapid Questions and Answers:

      • ​It's a great way to review any target language.
      • ​It's fast paced  and extremely fun.
      • Your students will LOVE it!

    Have Fun in Class!

    The Super Memory Game

    This Easy ESL Game comes from Hans. An English School Owner living between Tokyo and Yokohama In Sagamihara Japan. Hans says, he love teaching with Games because they take away the fear of failure and stimulate students to repeat and repeat and to try and try WITHOUT getting bored of frustrated.

    This game is take on concentration he calls the SUPER memory game. It’s a great way to practice a ton of language in a variety of ways.

    The Details About The Super Memory Game:

      • This game is great for 2 or more players and works excellent in 1 on 1 lessons.
      • Materials needed: A total of between 12 and 20 pairs of flashcards
      • A game should take between 5~30 minutes depending on the class size and level.

    Objective:

    In this game players take turns trying to find pairs of vocabulary cards while using the vocabulary item on the card in a full sentence. You can find a link to an in-depth video in the description.

    In this example we are teaching time related verb clauses  as our topic. With language expansion being the main focus of the lesson.


    Here's How To Play Game

    1. ​Spread the cards face down on the table/desk.

    2. Get 6 to 10 pairs of flash cards (any type will do: food, verbs, things).

    3. Player 1 turns over 1 card and uses the target language.

    4. Player 1 turns over a 2nd card and uses the target language for the 2nd card (target language for the 2nd card depends on whether it's a match or not.

    5. If it's a match, the player gets to keep the cards. If it's not a match, player1 turns over the cards (face down)and it becomes the next player's turn.

    5. The game continues until all cards are gone.​

    You can find more information about how to play The Super Memory Game here!​

    The Super Memory Game:

    • It's a really easy way to focus on expansion.
    • You can practice a lot of different language points at the same time.
    • It's even fun for the teacher!