Fun Games for ESL Students to Liven Up Your Classroom

30 Jun 2022 | ESLteachers

As an ESL teacher, you’re no stranger to the difficulties of keeping your students engaged, especially when the material becomes repetitive or dry. The truth is, learning a new language can be challenging and monotonous, but that doesn’t mean the classroom has to be.

Here are a few games that I’ve used in my own classrooms over the years, and have seen firsthand how they liven up even the dullest of lesson plans:

1. “Telephone”

A classic, this game is easy to set up, teaches students to be creative with their sentences and always leads to laughter. Have your students sit in a circle and whisper a sentence in the ear of the person next to them. By the time the sentence makes its way around the circle, it’s usually been completely distorted and the students can’t help but giggle at the absurdity of it all. 

2. “Find Someone Who…”

This is a great way to get your students moving and interacting with one another. Write a series of statements on the board, like “find someone who has been to three countries” or “find someone who can play an instrument”. The students then have to go around the room and find someone who fits each description. Not only does this get them speaking English, but it also helps them get to know their classmates and can be a fun way to build chemistry and trust with your class

3. “Taboo”

This is a fast-paced and energetic game that’s perfect for intermediate and advanced ESL students. Write a list of words or phrases on cards, and have one student try to get their team to guess the word without using certain “taboo” words listed on the card. This game can get loud and rowdy, but it’s a great way to get your students speaking without fear of making mistakes. This game can be especially helpful in your quiet classes, where students are not the most proactive in speaking English.

As an ESL teacher, your goal is to create an environment that’s both educational and fun. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative and keep your students engaged and enjoying the learning process. If you’re looking for more ESL games and teaching resources, check out