The fan game a.k.a. “FAN”tastic is awesome! My ESL classes love it and yours will too. All you need is a whiteboard, a marker and a few over-sized fans. If you don’t have any fans you can use hammers or your hands. Like most easy ESL games this game can be modified to fit almost any level of ability, language target or vocabulary set. For this example, I’ve set up a phonic application.
To start fill the black board with similar words. I’ve used 3 letter words in which the center letter is a vowel. That vowel changes but the consonants stay the same e.g. RoT, RuT, Ret, Rat and Rit. After you’ve used all five vowels switch the consonants. The important thing is to fill the board with as many words as possible. Once you’ve written a few words you can ask your class to form lines and help to write different words on the board for you. This step works as a built in listening and spelling test that your ESL student will be oblivious to.
Next, you divide the class into teams. Two teams works best but if you have a large class you can set the game up in a tournament format. Have two students come to the board. It’s important that they don’t face the board. They MUST be facing the class. Give each of them an over-sized fan.
Now for the fun. When you say one of the words written on the board the students turn around and look for the one you said. The first one to slap it with their fan gets a point. This is no easy task though. Remember the board is covered with similar words that all sound almost exactly the same to a language learner.
Encourage the students that are watching to help. As long as their using English anything is fair game. After a few turns ask a couple of students to take turns being the teacher.
And there you have have. The Fan Game is a highly effective way to get your ESL students reading.