This ESL game is a fun way to get your class working together to sound words out phonetically and then spell them correctly.
The only materials required are a blackboard, chalk and a few vocabulary cards.
For this game to work the most effectively you need to be really deliberate about how you set it up. I usually start by showing the class an easy flash card, like a dog. Then, I draw 3 lines on the board (one for each letter). Next, I ask the class “What animal is on the card?” Once they answer in a thunderous chorus of “DOG!!!!!” It’s time to start trying to spell the word. I break the word into each of its phonetic components verbally, D (d), O (
This is a good opportunity to use some misdirection. Repeat the (d) sound over the first of the 3 lines you wrote on the board. However instead of writing the letter D write an A.
More than likely some of your ESL students will shout is disagreement as your saying (d) (d) and pointing at an A.
At this point invite one of them to come to the front and write the correct letter in the first space. Then work together to complete the word. D O G.
Once the set-up is complete your ESL class will have figured out that this is a game about spelling.
How to Play:
- Tell the class that you are a Hungry Panda. The only thing that you like to eat…IS WORDS!
- Put a vocabulary card on the board and ask your ESL / EFL class how to correctly spell that word.
- Have a student come to the front of the classroom. * The whole class should be helping to figure out how the word is spelt.
- Walk to the back of the classroom and start acting like a Hungry Panda. For myself, this usually involves looking really angry and shouting “I’m hungry”.
- A correct letter will keep you in your place nibbling on the delicious correct spelling. A wrong letter will drive you into a hungry rage.
- Every time the class guesses the wrong letter take a step towards the blackboard.
- If your class can spell the word correctly before you get to the front of the classroom they win. If not, you have the choice to either declare yourself the winner or eat the class in an angry fit of Panda rage. I would advise going for the former approach.
To make this game more difficult select a series of vocabulary cards and put your class on a timer. They then have to spell all of the words in the series of cards before it’s “Dinner Time”.
This ESL game is tons of fun but it really depends on your ability as the teacher to “sell” it. So give it your best, have fun with it and let us know how much fun your ESL / EFL students had with this game.