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ESL Games for Large Classes

27 Proven ESL Games for Large Classes (40-50 students)


I work at a high school in Thailand and my job is to teach obscenely large classes. One thing I’ve learned: handling a hoard of 40-50 students in a single classroom requires games. A whole mess of games. Unless you’ve got a few activities in your back pocket at all times, the classroom might turn into a scene from Lord of the Flies. To prevent that from happening, you can always refer to this list of 27 proven ESL games for large classes.

Kevin’s List of Proven ESL Games for Large Classes

Most of these games require little more than a whiteboard/blackboard and your imagination. Keep score by writing tally marks on the board.

1. Introduction Games

  • ——Game 1——–
  • A perfect game for the first day of school.
  • Break the class into 4 to 5 teams.
  • Recite a short story about yourself listing 15 to 20 facts about where you’re from, your hobbies, etc.
  • After you recite the story, ask the class questions about specifics from your story.
  • The team who answers the most questions correctly wins.
  • ——Game 2——-
  • Tell the class a few facts about yourself.
  • Stuff like… Name, where you’re from, hobbies, birthday, expectations for the semester.
  • Then, give the class 10 to 15 minutes to write their own.
  • Collect the student’s papers and drop them in a hat.
  • Randomly draw the student’s fact sheets.
  • Ask the students to come to the front of class and read their list aloud.
  • This game is good for advanced students. Read the full story about it here.

2. Word Relay

  • Break the class into 2 teams, each team forms a line to the whiteboard.
  • The first student in line writes a word. The next student in line writes a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word.
  • Turtle, elephant, turn, neighbor, read, draw, … until every student from a particular team has written a word.
  • Make the game difficult by changing the variables (4-letter words only, nouns only, 5-letter words only, etc.)

3. Tongue Twister Showdown

  • Prepare a list of tongue twisters and print off two copies of each one. Have at least 15 tongue twisters prepared.
  • Cut out each tongue twister onto a slip of paper, each with 2 copies.
  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • Have one student from each team come to the front of class.
  • Hand each student the same tongue twister and allow both of them to try to pronounce it correctly.
  • The student with best pronunciation earns their team a point.

4. Pictionary

  • Prepare a list of vocabulary words that the students should be familiar with.
  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • One student from each team comes to the front of class to draw.
  • Teams guess what their teammate is drawing.
  • Enforce a strict hand-raising rule, otherwise all hell breaks loose.

5. Sentence Showdown

  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • One student from each team comes to the board to write.
  • Stand in the middle of the board and write a jumbled sentence.
  • monkey bananas to eat likes That (That monkey likes to eat bananas), start? does time school What (What time does school start?)
  • The first student to write the sentence correctly earns a point for their team. Encourage the teams to help the writers.
  • Harder sentences are worth more points. The team with the most points wins.
  • Click here to see the full article on this game.

6. Connect Four

  • Draw a 6×6 grid on the board. Over each column, write words that students typically have difficulty with.
  • Right, Light, Clown, Crown, Stay, Stray, Bat, Bath, True, Through, …
  • Spit the class into 2 teams: black circles and white circles.
  • Draw circles in the grid corresponding with the word the student pronounces. Often times, you’ll hear light when the student wants to say right, but you must place the circle in the column of the word that you hear.
  • This game forces students to pronounce problem words correctly, otherwise they’ll lose.
  • Pick students at random to keep the class focused.

ESL Games for Large Classes

7. Telephone

  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • Both teams form a line to the board, starting in the back of the classroom.
  • Stand in the back of class and whisper a short sentence to the first student in each line.
  • The students whisper the sentence all the way down the line until it reaches the front of class. The student in front of class writes the sentence on the board.
  • It doesn’t count for a point unless the sentence is perfect.

8. World Traveler

  • Ask the class, “If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?”
  • Elicit different countries from students and write them all on the board.
  • Once you’ve listed a bunch of countries on the board, break the class into 4 or 5 teams.
  • Have a list of historical landmarks and their corresponding countries prepared in advance (Eiffel Tower: France, Pyramids: Egypt, Statue of Liberty: U.S.A., etc.)
  • Ask the class, “Where can I visit the… (insert landmark here)?
  • The team that answers the most correct questions wins.

9. Directions Game

  • Draw a map (or print out my map below).
  • Make enough copies for each student.
  • Teach directions: go straight, turn right, turn left, opposite the…, between the…
  • Pass out the maps and break the class into 4 or 5 teams.
  • 2 different direction games can be played using a map:
  • Telling directions: From the start, I go straight on Dog Street and turn left on Duck Street. Where am I?
  • Asking directions: How do I get to the… market, retaurant, etc.?
  • The team that answers the most questions correctly wins.


10. Hot Seat

  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • Place a chair next to the board, facing the class.
  • Students from each team rotate turns sitting in the chair.
  • Write a vocabulary word behind the student that they cannot see.
  • Each team has 20 seconds to elicit the word written on the board from their teammate sitting in the hot seat.
  • They can only speak English. If they speak their native tongue, erase a point from their score.

11. Charades

  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • Fill a hat with a bunch of vocab cut-outs listing jobs, animals, verbs, adjectives.
  • Students from each team take turns coming to the front of class to perform a vocabulary word that they draw from the hat. Their team has 20 seconds to guess.

12. Fashion and Style

  • Teach the class different styles and fashion for men and women.
  • Goatee, beard, earrings, braids, ponytail, makeup, tank-top, t-shirt, ice skates, high heels, etc.
  • Break the class into 2 to 4 teams.
  • Students from each team take turns coming to the front of class to draw on the board.
  • Describe a person that the student must draw (“Draw a man with a spiked hair and beard, wearing a jacket, jeans and roller skates.” etc.)
  • Each article of style and fashion that the student correctly draws earns their team a point.

13. Lesson on Lyrics

  • Prepare to sing a song yourself or bring a music player to class. If you play guitar/enjoy singing, this game is pure dynamite.
  • Break the class into 10 to 15 teams.
  • Print out the lyrics to the song and cut the lyrics into sections.
  • Pass out the jumbled lyrics to each team.
  • Sing/play the song for the class as many times as necessary.
  • The first team to list the lyrics in the correct order wins.

14. Secret Code

  • Break the class into 4 to 5 teams.
  • Write a sentence on the board in secret code and write a hint next to it.
  • HINT: gdkkn = hello (one letter before the correct word in the alphabet)
  • Students race to decode the secret code and earn their team points.
  • Experiment with different alphabet variations to keep the students on their toes.

15. Convince Me (advanced)

  • Great for teaching your students the art of persuasion.
  • Bring a bag of candy to class for this one.
  • Teach the class different ways to convince via persuasion: if…then…, pity, flattery, etc.
  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • To earn candy, a team must be more persuasive than the opposing team.
  • “If you give me the candy, then I will give you 100 dollars.”
  • “I’m too poor to afford candy and I’m starving. Please give me a piece of candy.”
  • “You look very handsome today teacher. So can I have a piece of candy?”
  • The tactics get pretty hilarious when a piece of candy is on the line.

16. Bragging Rights (advanced)

  • Demonstrate a dialogue to the class on bragging. This game is great for teaching the present perfect verb tense.
  • A: I’ve played football with Lionel Messi. B: So what? I’ve played football with Christiano Ronaldo. A: So what? I taught Ronaldo how to play football!
  • Break the class into 2 teams.
  • Give the teams a topic to prepare bragging rights (sports, money, celebrities, talents, etc.).
  • Have one student from each team come to the front of class to list their bragging rights.
  • Encourage outlandish ideas and exaggeration.
  • The student with the funniest, most creative boasts earns a point for their team.

17. National Anthem in English

  • Whichever country you’re teaching ESL, find a translation of the country’s national anthem in English.
  • Print enough copies of the anthem in English for the entire class.
  • Write the anthem’s difficult words on the board to prepare the students to pronounce them correctly.
  • Sing the anthem in English once for the class to hear.
  • Break the class into 4 or 5 teams and have them rotate singing.
  • Reward the team that sings the anthem the best with candy or bonus points on their final grade.

18. Two Truths, One Lie

  • Demonstrate by writing two truths and one lie about yourself on the board.
  • Allow the class to guess what your lie is.
  • Once they grasp the concept, give them 5 to 10 minutes to write their own list of two truths and one lie.
  • Students take turns presenting their list to the class for participation points.
  • The class guesses what the lie is.

19. Story Writing

  • Write the first letter to a story at the top left of the board.
  • Each student must contribute one word to the story, in order.
  • Make a zig zag pattern through the class until every student has said one word.
  • Write the word they say next in the story. The sentences must have correct grammar.
  • Example: Write “The” to start the story. Point to the first student in the front row. They say, “cow” then the next student says, “runs”, …
  • The story will end up as something ridiculous.
  • “The cow runs fast and eats bananas while jumping over a duck in the tree. A girl eats fish every day and she is fat. I like to play guitar with my friend and we go to the mall every saturday.”
  • Have the students read the story aloud once it is finished. They will all laugh because it won’t make any sense.

20. Riddles (advanced)

  • This is a great warm-up activity for advanced classes.
  • Write a simple riddle on the board and see if the students can guess the answer.
  • “What starts with p, ends and e, and has a million letters?” – Post office.
  • “What do the letter T and an Island have in common?” – They are both in the middle of water.
  • “How many months have 28 days?” – All of them.

21. Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Break the class into two teams: X’s and O’s
  • Draw two tic-tac-toe grids on the board, side-by-side. One grid for reference and one for actually drawing X’s and O’s.
  • Write a response to a question in each square (I’m great, Noodles, America, 24 years old, Green …)
  • Teams rotate asking questions (How are you? What’s your favorite food? Where are you from? …)
  • To keep the entire class focused, pick students at random.

ESL Games for Large Classes

22. Who’s the Best Actor?

  • Prepare a short dialogue and demonstrate it in front of the class.
  • Prepare a list of emotions on different slips of paper.
  • Pass out copies of the dialogue to the class so each student has one.
  • Review the emotions with the class: happy, sad, excited, bored, angry, etc.
  • Pick two students randomly to come to the front of class and perform the dialogue.
  • Each student draws an emotion from a hat and must perform the dialogue with the corresponding emotion.
  • Every student must perform once to earn participation points.
  • At the end of class, list the best actors/actresses on the board.

23. Opposites

  • Have a list of adjectives prepared that the class should be familiar with.
  • Break the class into 4 teams.
  • One student from each team comes to the front of class to write on the board.
  • Say an adjective from the list and each student must write the opposite adjective on the board.
  • The fastest student (with correct spelling) earns their team a point.

24. Road Trip

  • Ask the class, “What do we need for a road trip?”
  • Each student must say one item to bring along, but every previous item must be said first.
  • Student 1: Fruit. Student 2: Fruit and vegetables. Student 3: Fruit, vegetables and a cat. Student 4: Fruit, vegetables, a cat and an umbrella. Keep going until a student forgets the list.
  • This activity is a great time-killer. With a large class, the list can get huge.


ESL Games for Large Classes – Art Activities

Quiet activities like drawing are a great way to get the kids active and engaged without exhausting yourself while you referee games. Plus, after a ton of games, the students will probably be ready for a change of pace themselves.

With art activities, prepare an example that you have drawn yourself. Show the class your example and they’ll grasp the concept quickly. Pass out blank sheets of paper and watch as the class becomes silent and focused on their ESL artwork.

25. Advertisement Design

  • Teach the students some key marketing phrases: advertisement, sale, discount, 50% off, brand, logo, slogan, price, etc.
  • Prepare an example of an advertisement to show the class.
  • Give the students 20 minutes to design their ad.
  • If time permits, encourage the students to present their ad to the class.
  • Students who present their ad receive bonus points to their final grade.

ESL Games for large classes

26. Holidays

  • An adaptable ESL drawing lesson.
  • Create a demonstration for the class. Illustrate your favorite holiday on a piece of paper and write a few sentences about it.
  • What is the holiday? When is the holiday? Why is it your favorite holiday?
  • For lower level students, limit the sentences to answer the previous 3 questions.
  • For advanced classes, students should write more detailed sentences.
  • This game is also a great way for you to learn a thing or two about the holidays of a foreign culture.
  • Click here to see the full article on this game.

ESL games for large classrooms

27. Family Art

  • Another adaptable ESL drawing lesson about family.
  • Prepare a demo and show the class, etc.
  • You can make it as difficult as you want, depending on the level of the students.
  • For my lower level students, I had each student draw their family tree.
  • For my highest level students, I had them draw their immediate family member and write 2 short sentences about each.
  • “This is my mother. She is a very kind person because she takes care of me.” etc.
  • “This is my brother. He is funny because he tells jokes.” etc.

ESL Games for Large Classes


You might be familiar with some of these games. Others, I created myself. I’ve personally tested each one of these ESL games and they’ve all earned my seal of approval. I hope this list gives you some ideas and inspiration. Feel free to change the variables and grammar in any of the games to suit a particular lesson. Good luck!

Still need more ESL game ideas?

Check out this MASSIVE list of 50 ESL games!

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!


  1. What a great way to learn and have fun at the same time…found myself playing along on many of these games!

  2. You are so good! Almost makes me want to teach again! Not!!

  3. Hi Kevin. I teach art students at a college in Suphanburi and came to your blog just now looking for ideas on how to include drawing in the classroom. Some good ones here.

    One that I use which goes down well is shapes and prepositions. Draw simple shapes on the board so the kids learn the English terms. Then teach prepositions (next to, beside, in, underneath etc). Then draw two or three shapes and get them to describe the picture (The square is next to the triangle. A circle is beneath the square etc). Then split the class into teams. Have one member of each team come out the front and then sit facing his team with a piece of paper (he can’t see the board). Draw picture shapes on the board. Those in the team who can see the board have to describe it to their member who cannot and he has to draw the picture. First correct finish wins the points. As a final picture, draw a face and or robot.

  4. This is really useful 🙂

  5. Hi I was thinking about moving to Thailand.. I have enough saved up for flight and maybe about 2 months for living.. I would need to find a job fast!! How easy is the course and how long before I can start teaching and making money?

    • Tasha, if you take a TESOL course, each one varies in length and difficulty, I’d imagine. The course I participated in was a 3-week, 120 hour on-site course in Thailand, with job placement guaranteed. If you have enough for 2 months, you should be fine. It takes just about 2 months to start receiving paychecks if you go with a TESOL program like mine. Hope this helps.

      • Mr. Kevin,

        There’s no need of any TESOL. Please don’t lie to us.
        When you like to make money so go teach. Don’t lie to newbies about any stupid program.
        YOU need help ?
        Send me a mail

        • It’s true that you only need a degree to get hired for a teaching job… but that depends on where you live and what your goals are. Some places DO require more certifications, and more certifications DO get you more money.
          He isn’t lying. It’s HIS experience. Stop being so rude.

        • As an English, English Teacher in Thailand, I can confirm you need a Degree, and a TESOL or TEFL qualification. Jobs are not easy to get here as there is a lack of Government funding for foreign Teachers. Each school I have taught at struggle to get the funding to keep us employed, so you could be teaching at one school for 3 months, then another for 6 months etc, and then nothing for several months. The pay is poor, so you would need to ensure you have funds saved should you need to fly home, as you would struggle to save flight money on the salary. Next, obtaining visas are not easy, schools will not do it unless they can get you funded full time for 12 months or more.

          However the kids are wonderful, fun, eager and a constant joy to work with.

          I love teaching here.

          • You don’t need a TESOL or TEFL for Thailand, Tony. Also, it may well be that government schools struggle with funding, but there are plenty of private schools across Thailand that are able to support you for 12 months. The private schools no doubt pay a lot more than what you’re getting at government schools too – it depends on what you consider a poor salary. It’s possible to be getting 4 times the national average salary and upwards with benefits too. Of course, against an English salary that still doesn’t amount to much, but in Thailand it can keep you comfortable for sure.

        • Not all the time true. It sure depends on where you want to teach. If you want to teach (legally) in China, the bureau requires also TESO/ ESOL Certificate for them to issue you a work permit.

    • Hello,

      I can assist you to find a teaching job.

  6. Great stuff. Here in Africa where class sizes are huge and resources are little, your games are a life saver. Thanks so much for sharing. ~ Steve in Kigali

  7. Oh these are brilliant! I´m working in Ecuador, where the classes are pretty big, and there´s one grade in particular who need constant games to stop the class turning into a scene from Lord of the Flies, as you so rightly put it! 😉

  8. This is great- thank you so so so much for all these ideas. I was planning my next lesson and drawing a blank on what games to play. Much more relieved now 🙂

    Games #15 and #16 sound hysterical, def want to try those two out

    Agreed- games are a great way to get participation while managing a huge group. I’m teaching English in Xi’an, Shaanxi province and classes are around 65.

    This list is really a life saver, thanks again. ^-^

  9. Hey, Kev. This is some good stuff! I’m Thai but I’ll definitely be teaching ESL in a few years after I get my qualifications. I’m not sure these games will work for the older ones (i.e. college students), but as a Thai with no originality, I’ll take some of your ideas. Hope you don’t mind 😀

    • You’re right about using these games with college ESL students: It won’t work. I’m teaching college right now in China and these games are waay too easy for the students. I haven’t even tried to play any of them.

      College students are more interested in practicing conversational English and learning about foreign culture than playing games. Good luck teaching in a few years!

  10. Have experience teaching in Spain and Indonesia– just started teaching in China and have been having trouble finding games for 30+ students. Thanks for the help!

  11. “Outside the temple on the Phuket mountain, there’s a different Buddha statue for every day of the week.” – Kevin Cook

    Hi, Kevin. I’m new to your blog and have an interest in ESOL teaching. I read a few of the post and came across this statement. Which I thought would be a great game to play with students.

    Having pictures of the individual statues, could help them memorize the days of the week. Taking into consideration whether or not the children know the statues and their meanings.

  12. This is absolutely fantastic. Teaching in a low-level high school in Korea (with large classes) almost all of these will work wonders

  13. Thanks a lot guy!!! I worked for me… Blessings!

  14. Kevin,

    thanks for taking the time to share your best games. Teaching in Quebec and although i have smaller classes I’ve adapted some of these games, wish I saw this when I was teaching in Italy.

    Im sure your a hell of a teacher.


  15. Ahhhh thank you for these! I teach at a Thai high school, and I need more than hangman and hot seat to keep these huge classes entertained.. I’ll definitely be using some of these games!

  16. Great blog mate. I am currently teaching M1 and M4 at a Government School in Ayutthaya and the large classes can be seriously difficult to control at times! Thanks for the help.

  17. Cool blog mate, I’ve used some of your games in my classes and they are great!

    I’ve just started teaching in a language centre in Hangzhou and although these games are awesome, I am having a hard time thinking of decent games for smaller classes (I’m talking 4 kids or less). Lately cards and UNO have been an absolute saviour!! But for the smaller kids who can’t really maintain focus for long, or understand English enough for me to explain the rules, I need some activities to get them up and talking in English!

    The work books for the kids here absolutely suck, the flash cards are nonsense and the overall style is frustrating (I am not a fan of the parents constantly sticking their noses in the classrooms!). Also it is quite futile in many ways because I sometimes only see the same kids once and then never again, so i don’t usually get to follow up on anything!

    I feel like a lot of my classes sometimes just get wasted away because the kids obviously don’t want to be there (especially at 8pm on a weeknight) and therefore I just need something to get them laughing even if it is just 2 kids in the room.


  18. Congrats, Kevin! I really loved all these games. I’ll put some of them in practice soon. Working with large groups are always a challenge, and most of the games that I use in class only works with smaller groups.
    Thank you!
    Well done! 😀

  19. hey man, ive been teaching in nong khai thailand for the last year, and just want to commend on this list, and really on the rest of your blog…the majority of crap online is unusable for teaching in thailand, and games like this are sooo needed but its hard to find/think of games that actually work. im sure you understand that feeling! anyways, thanks man, lookin forward to reading more

  20. Great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Thank you! I have 60 students in every class in China so these are a lifesaver, you are a great teacher!

  22. Hi! I’m new to your site and am glad I found it! I’ve taught ESL in Korea, Spain, (and now Italy) and am still finding new ways to make the class interesting and fun!

    Thanks for this!

  23. Hi Kevin. Thanks for sharing these games. I’m sure they will be very useful.
    you rock dude!

  24. Thanks for sharing these ideas Kevin. I will most certainly be adapting some of them. I will be moving to Thailand in a few months to teach English and was struggling to think of how to keep such large groups motivated. However, these games should not only keep students motivated but also encourage full participation. You are a star!!

  25. Your blog rocks. I leave for my teaching job in Thailand in May and I have been pretty anxious, but after reading some of your posts I know I’m headed in the right direction. Thank you for your awesome attitude and helpful posts!

  26. Just what I was looking for! Thanks, Kev.

  27. Who requires a teaching job, please send inquiries to

    Jobs in Asia

  28. Thankyou for sharing!! I’ve just started teaching English at a Thai school as well. I’ve been a little overwhelmed. These will be really helpful!

  29. This has been so helpful to me in the past. I really hope you don’t mind, I added your blog to a list of good places to find esl games in a post I did on MY blog. It’s that great.

  30. Good stuff here. A nice selection of classroom games. Thanks for posting that for teachers everywhere.

  31. Hey Kevin thanks so much for this excellent selection of activities! It will be very helpful for me when I start teaching ESL soon! All the best!

  32. Nice list kevin Thanks i work in Thailand to Ive got a few good games that i created too ill try post them Thanks again

  33. I tried a few of these in class and kids loved it.
    Activities that get students speak in english and have fun make learning and teaching so exciting. Thanks so much for sharing!

  34. Thank you Kevin! Exactly what I needd for my class of 50!!!

  35. This one is going on my bookmarks tab!

    I keep getting thrown in front of giant classes in Vietnam. These are some really great ideas here.


  36. This is fantastic. Thankyou so much!

  37. Pingback: Two is Better Than One (Second Week) | Wending Blog

  38. Thank youuuuu!!! <3 Gonna use some of these with a group of 90 Indonesian middle schoolers tomorrow. 🙂

  39. This is a decent list and many of these games can be modified to cater to different age groups. It totally shows that you taught in Thailand. I currently am and have used some of these before. Kids definitely like competition between teams in the classroom.. There have been times when i actually had to plug my ears because the kids were going so crazy, but they were using English at the same time which made it a success. I will surely use some of these to take a day off from the textbook. Much obliged.

  40. thanks for sharing

  41. Some great games here, thanks a million. I’m teaching in China, all different ages. i was looking for different games to mix it up a little instead of the same one’s i’ve tried and tested. Will try these out in my next lessons!!

  42. Kevin, lots of good ideas that are commonly used & usually effective when done right.

    I might make a suggestion, though.

    I have used a many of these for years & splitting large classes into only two teams allows for way too much inactivity on the part of most students.

    If, as you say, you have classes of 40-50 kids and only two are engaged in the actual activity, how does it benefit the other 38-48, aside from simply listening & observing?

    In my experience, students lose interest quickly if they aren’t a part of the action.

    I would recommend more groups/teams but smaller numbers. I usually split my classes (30-40) into groups of roughly six.

    This allows for greater engagement & far less inactivity from the majority of students.

    I hope this isn’t taken as an insult. I just thought it might be good for others to be aware of the difficulty in managing and engaging large classes when only a couple students are actively involved in what is happening.

    Again, Just my two cents….from 10 years of experience as a certified classroom teacher in the States and 6 more as a university EFL professor in Asia.


  43. Hey Kevin, Ive been teaching at a language centre in Vietnam these last 4 years. In just a few days time I’ll begin teaching at a high school so will jump from my usual 15 – 20 student class size to 40 plus. This is new for me. Im so thankful to see some new games that are also suitable for big classes. The fact that they are great games that require little to no preparation is music to my ears.

  44. Hi Kevin,

    I just wanted to let you know that these games have worked really well for me. Thanks a lot. I teach first year college students and run an English club in Indonesia. My biggest challenge is engaging multi-level students at once, and the sentence jumble especially really helped my students use English.

    I’ve noticed though that since my classes are between 30-40 when I do two team games, half the class gets nervous and refuses to participate. So I started splitting them into more groups. It’s more easy to manage for me. Good luck with all your work!

  45. Hi Kevin, thank you so much for sharing! Just started to teach a large college class here in China, 70 students, so hoping to use some of your games!

  46. Thanks for sharing wonderful games

  47. Hey Kevin,
    You have some great ideas. 15 year ESL teacher here, so it’s always nice to find some different games and ideas.

  48. Hello Kevin,
    Thank you so much for posting your ideas. I am an ALT in a Japanese high school. At times, working with a class full of 30-40 students can be exhausting. These games are exactly what I need. I think my students are getting tired of my usual games. Time to spice things up a bit!

    Thanks, again!

  49. hello there..thank you for these great ideas.. it really help me..i teach thai students from grade 1-6:)

  50. Thanks a million, i’ve got what i need!!

  51. Muy bien. Perfecto, amigo.

  52. Thank you Kevin! For the ideas! My forty-four students liked it! Couldnt wait to try moreeeee games from you . Have a blast!

  53. Thanks a lot Kevin! Great stuff!

  54. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the game ideas..I’ve tried it with my students and it was great..

    I have a few questions to ask if you don’t mind.
    What do you think of the sentence below?
    ‘Applies simple present tense in a conversation’
    Is it correct or not?

  55. Great games! Ive tried at least 6 of them and they’ve worked so well. “Sentence Showdown” is great! Really nice how you share online here without charging a fee for your lessons.

  56. Thank you so much for your great ideas. Keep up the good work!!!God Bless You!!!

  57. You should never force a student tup to the front of the class to read to the rest of the class. Have you never heard that peoples’ number one fear – greater than death – is public speaking. Not every kid I outgoing and confident. Those who have never had this fear or experience (which, I guess, includes yourself) can not possibly understand the sheer horror for a shy, socially anxious person to be centre I attention. It is very cruel. And before anyone supposed it as some sort of exposure therapy: You wouldn’t throw in to a phone box/booth full of snakes a person with a debilitating fear of those creatures, would you?

    • You’re right. Best to let people never challenge themselves and remain silent. That way, they’re never forced to reach their full potential.

      • I reiterate: You must never have experienced it. I’m speaking from experience. The terror of anxiety is awful. It’s ignorant, cruel, non empathic. It’s got nothing to do with reaching your potential. You don’t throw a non swimmer in to the deep end and leave him there in order for them to to reach their potential as a swimmer, do you? You don’t get it. It’s a form of social anxiety and this has to be worked through. You should make it an option not force people to get up. Its a game to you and rest of class, but not them.

        • Not everyone suffers from chronic social anxiety. Most, given enough practice, become more comfortable speaking publicly. You can’t suit your lesson to suit every single student in a classroom, but you can vary your lessons day by day to reach everyone at their own style of learning throughout the semester/year. I have a feeling that, no matter what material I’d prepare, you could poke holes in it, not because it’s a bad idea, but because your perspective limits your outlook to only your own worldview, which–from what I’ve gathered–is quite pessimistic and overprotective.

  58. Cheers Kevin! Have been teaching for 9 years and have a tinderbox of games up my sleeve… but it’s always good to hear and learn off other teachers for fresh ideas! Will be using some of these today! Thanks again!

  59. Kevin,
    I have been teaching ESL classes for the last 5 years and its not easy! The only way I get my class to be more interactive is to play games and I loved each and every one you ahd listed. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to list them!

  60. For the record, it depends on where you are teaching. I don’t have a University degree but a TEFL 220 hour Master Course qualification. I went for an interview in Saigon-Vietnam for a job teaching, They asked me about a degree but I told them what I had. They not only hired me straight away but have put me in public schools teaching English, with classes of 40+ students!! I also keep receiving emails asking me to cover classes all around the city. So don’t be put off if you don’t have a Uni degree.

  61. I love this!!! I have thought about teaching abroad…but I am deathly stage fright. I know it is not really a stage but for me it is the same. Although I love kids and have worked with children a few years as a teacher’s aide within the classroom…the thought of all eyes being on me holds me back from taking the leap.
    I homeschooled my own child after he endured bullying and school became traumatic. Everything had to be fun or feel like a game or he was not receptive. This entire page is full of great ideas!!!

  62. Dear Kevin, have you ever been employed as an actual ESL teacher? Your list of games clearly suggests that you haven’t.

    • Have u ever pooped your pants? Your comment suggests that you do, often.

    • “Teaching ESL overseas” is ironic. There’s no actual teaching involved or expected. This is just another website of an “ESL teacher” (snicker) with absolutely nothing to contribute.

      • How can you say this, Bob? To say there is no actual teaching involved is ludicrous. I understand that teaching in private English academies can be more like babysitting at times, but I’ve been teaching at a public school this past year and a half and I’ve always felt that the students are ready and willing to learn, with the exception of a few. It helps that I have a Chinese assistant in my classroom with me, but I make sure the students learn as best they can. This means creating lessons that are as engaging as possible – chunking the lesson with a song, oral English, some writing, and yes, a game such as one of the great games from this website that reinforces the students’ learning. Being a teacher back in New Zealand prior to teaching in China has obviously helped me too, but I have utter confidence that my students come away after each lesson with a better knowledge of English.

        • Doubtful.. “chunking the lesson with a song”? You don’t chunk activities, my friend, you chunk thoughts or bits of thoughts in order to improve memory retention in LTM. Try another buzzword.

          Doesn’t matter how “ready and willing” to learn students are. Are they actually learning? Or are they just having a good time playing games and then telling you that you’ve done a good job because you’ve made them happy for a short time, but they’ve actually learned nothing from you?

          I teach at a college that has an ESL program. It’s hilarious how many “teachers” come back from teaching overseas for any number of years and have no idea how to manage a classroom, how to teach either real life or academic English, have no real ability to connect with students on a meaningful level, and have no idea how to lesson plan, scaffold learning, or recycle material. For most of them it’s just one game after another. Or they are on the other end, “teacher trainers” who talk about behaviorism, rationalism, constructivism but then have zero idea about they can apply any of this to a classroom and can’t teach at all… but they too rely on these tired old games and worksheets because in the end they have no idea what they are doing. Yes, some of these people actually have post-secondary degree in Education but they made the mistake of going overseas where there is no accountability, no professional development, and no standards for foreign teachers, so they learned nothing themselves and developed little.

  63. I’m a ‘kiwi’ who has been living in Daqing, China for a year now. I’ve used at least 10 of these games in the classroom along with a few other obvious esl games such as 20 questions, Bingo etc. I tweak things a little at times, but these games have been a life saver for me when trying to teach approximately 60 students per class in a public elementary school. These games and activities are much better than a lot of the other stuff out there on the internet in my opinion, especially for very large class sizes. Hence, the title of the blog post. Kevin, you rock!

  64. Thanks a lot! I’ll start trying them tomorrow (in Spanish though). This is gold!

  65. Thanks Kevin. I’m gonna try the telephone game this afternoon.

  66. Thanks Kevin, great ideas. I have tried some of them with students in China and they loved them. Some, I have changed a bit according to content and students level.

  67. The Tic Tac Toe one is great! Even for my phonics classes.

  68. Lord of the flies perfectly sums up my 45 kids in a class strong in Phrae, Northern Thailand! I honestly have to say – I’ve just looked at your website this morning, trying to figure out how to get the control back and have been using a few of the games throughout today – they’ve gone down an absolute storm. Connect four and the story telling particularly! We’ve had some hilarious stories come up and both of the games have pulled the classes concentration together brilliantly.
    Thank you so much for the help!

    p.s. I saw you taught in Nan? Planning a trip there in the next few days – so will be checking out your blog for any tips on where to go to drink / eat / see etc.


  70. Thanks! Games make any lesson go well. Another GREAT resource for English students or English teachers is a piece titled Mark’s English Grammar Shortcuts. Really makes grammar easy.

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  74. These save my ESL lessons! Thank you for sharing!

  75. Thank you for sharing your ideas 🙂 It is really helpful.

  76. Thank you! I will surely be using some of these games if not all. This was exactly what I needed

  77. Thank you for this list – one of the best lists I’ve come across. I will use many of them for my highschool classes in Korea.

  78. I really like your games.I will apply for kindergarten.
    Thank you

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