By Kevin Fabris

February 11, 2015

10 - 20 Minutes, Adult, Answer, EFL, ESL, Fun, Game, High School, Materials Required, Question, Small Class, Speaking, Word Game, Young Learner

As a new teacher I quickly realized that you need to give your ESL students a reason to speak.  Nothing works better at creating a reason to communicate than a fun game with a lot of competition.  If I’m teaching a small class my go-to game is Jenga.  This stacking game can be used in conjunction with almost any lesson and there are a number of ways to play it.

Playing is simple.  simply pick a language target of vocabulary set and and you can use the game to drill almost any topic.
For example if your using the game to teach clothing as your topic and “What are you wearing?”  “I’m wearing a jacket” as your target language all you have to do is introduce the language and then let your students ask and answer the question.  There are a ton of ways to play but I’ve included my 3 favourite tweaks below.
1)  For younger ESL classes, I play the game by using pulling a brick from the stack as a reward.  A right answer means they get a turn to play.
2)  For older ESL classes, I play the game by using pulling a brick from the stack as a punishment.  A wrong answer means they have to play.
3)  My personal favourite way to play is by making JENGA a reward and a punishment.  The student that answers the question gets to give a JENGA to someone else.  Watch out though as a teacher you’re probably going to get the bulk of the action.

As an unexpected result of teaching ESL in Japan, I’ve become a masterful JENGA player.   ENJOY!
You can find Jenga pretty much any place toys are sold,  with a quick Google search or better yet on

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