Charades ESL Game

charades esl speaking game

Charades: An ESL Speaking Game

Charades ESL Game: An Introduction

Skills: Speaking
Time: 20-30 minutes
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Materials Required: White board

You can use this charades ESL speaking game to review whatever you’re studying. For example, verbs work especially well. Write out some phrases or words that can be easily acted out on small pieces of paper and put them in an envelope.

Divide the class up into two teams. The first team sends one person, the captain up to the front and they have to act out and describe in English as many things as they can in two minutes. Alternatively, you can have each team member rotate through the captain role during a single 3-4 minute round. The first person describes the first word and after their team guesses it, they go to the back of the line and the next person is up. Then the next team goes. You can do as many rounds as you want with different captains.

Like this activity? It’s from this book, which has 38 more ESL speaking activities that are fun, engaging and student-centered. It’s the book you need to make your teaching life even more awesome.
39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults

Teaching Tips:

To add even more fun, if there is a team that is behind by a lot you can have a double and then a triple bonus round to give them some hope that they can catch up and maybe even win.


  1. Prepare some words or phrases beforehand, based on whatever you’re studying.
  2. Divide the class into two and each team can choose their first captain.
  3. Team A sends their captain to the front who randomly chooses a paper and then must describe and act it out to their team who can guess what it is.
  4. When the team guesses correctly, the captain takes another word and the game continues. Alternatively, you can have the students rotate the captain role amongst themselves during the course of a single round. In this case, make the round a bit longer—maybe four minutes instead of two.
  5. Each round is 2-4 minutes and each team tries to get as many words as possible.
  6. The next team goes, using different words.
  7. You can play as many rounds as you wish, but make sure you have different captains for each one so everyone gets a chance to describe the words.

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