Esl Speaking Games


Are you looking for some games that can help at the ESL level?

Do you teach for ESL or TEFL and want some helpful games?

Are you facing challenges with your ESL/TEFL students and want some effective conversation games?

If you are looking for games that can help spark conversation especially for ESL or TEFL, then this article today can help you do just that.

We are taking a closer look at the challenges you may face with your students, and how using conversation games in class can help both teacher and student. We are also sharing 7 such effective games that will encompass every level of learning and help you communicate more effectively and positively with your students.

7 ESL Speaking Activities Speaking Games For Language Learners That Work (FOR EVERY LEVEL)

Option #1: Show and Tell

Ask students to bring an object to class the next day that they need to speak about. In most cases, students will end up bringing something that holds some special meaning for them. This can be a good way to let each student come up and talk about the object and what it means to them, as well as add more details.

  • Other students can also ask the particular student various questions about the object.
  • You could set a target for the students to ask each student questions so that there are 10 pointers for each object that has been brought to class.
  • Once they are comfortable with this, you can give them each an object in a next class and let them speak about it and repeat the process.

Option #2: Who’s Telling the Truth

Divide the class into small groups of 3-4 students. Now give the same topic to each group that the students can talk about. For instance, something such as ‘My best birthday party ever’ or ‘One time I really felt scared’ and so on.

  • All students have to prepare a story based on the topic and choose one from all in the group that they will tell.
  • Each student in the group has to learn this story in detail.
  • Now one by one, each student tells the same story and tries to make it sound real.
  • Students have to ask questions and identify who is telling the truth.

Option #3: Taboo

In this game, one player gets a card that has 4 words in it. The first word in the list is supposed to be the secret word. The other three words will be some of the most obvious words that can be used to describe the first word.

  • The student with the card has to try and describe the first word so that others can guess it right.
  • But the catch is that he/she cannot use the other three words in the list.

Option #4: Alibi

This game is especially good for speaking practice. You have to tell students about a crime that has happened. You can choose to give it a local flavour by mentioning names of places they know. For instance, you can say ‘last so-and-so night between _ and , someone broke into the showroom on _ street. ’.

  • Divide the class into groups with 1 suspect and the rest police in each group.
  • Tell the class the names of students who are ‘suspects.’
  • Suspects then go out and plan all details of what to tell the police during questioning.
  • Each suspect goes individually to each police group for questioning.
  • Police have to match the answers and see if the alibis are strong or not.

Option #5: Find Someone Who

Prepare a sheet of points such as ‘someone who has an elder brother’, ‘someone who watches TV at night’, ‘someone who loves this celebrity’ and so on.

  • Mix up points in such a way that there is a good match of the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
  • Each student has to take this sheet and go to each other to find out the yes and no.

Option #6: Question of the Week

Select one day each week when you will give the class a question that they have to discuss in class.

  • You can modify this as per the age of your students.
  • For instance, in one class, students can debate for and against the question.
  • In another, they can share their own experiences about the question of the week.

Option #7: 2 Truths and 1 Lie

This game is also known as call my bluff. It is good for all age-groups but is best for slightly older kids. Start by writing 3 sentences on the board, 2 true and 1 lie. Tell your students to ask about each sentence and guess which 2 are true and which 1 is false.

  • Whoever guesses right wins.
  • This activity will encourage students to come up with sentences that can help them reach the answer they are looking for.
  • Once done, ask them to take turns to write 3 sentences on the board, 2 true and 1 lie, and repeat the process.

What is TEFL?

The term TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TEFL teachers have to teach English as a foreign language in a country where it’s not the main or first language.

What is ESL?

The term ESL stands for English as a Second Language. ESL teachers have to teach English to students in the United States whose main language is not English.

What are some challenges that TEFL teachers and ESL language learners face?

TEFL and ESL teachers and students face various challenges such as:

  • Less number of instructors available.
  • Teaching the course within a stipulated time.
  • Teaching students who may not know the language at all.
  • Difference in language proficiency amongst students in same class.
  • Not enough resources.
  • Lack of proper support and guidance.
  • Gelling in with a different or foreign teaching pattern.

How can ESL speaking activities help?

Conversation games can help especially when you:

  • Are working with children who are learning a new language.
  • Want them to open up to you.
  • Don’t have all the resources you need, but can still play a game.
  • Want children to remember things by understanding rather than by rote.

How speaking games that work make learning easier and fun for ESL/TEFL students

Here are 5 benefits of using games in the classroom:

Conversation games can be extremely fun, helpful and effective as a teaching tool for ESL or TEFL teachers because of some very simple but important reasons:

  1. Speaking with your students in a game mode helps them interact better and can be more effective than just plain reading the language.
  2. Real interaction and speaking makes it easier for children to pick up the language.
  3. Teaching English or any other language in a play mode can help people overcome the language barrier and become less conscious while speaking.
  4. Playing language-based games makes children more confident because they are less scared of making mistakes as compared to making mistakes when they try and speak a new language.
  5. Games help children retain knowledge easily which means they will remember more of what you teach as you play, as compared to what you teach through regular teaching methods.

The best part about using conversation games for teaching ESL/TEFL is that you can use them for different age groups and in different scenarios, even as the fun and learning stays the same.


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