Are you looking for a simple warm-up or filler activity that can be used to review grammar and/or vocabulary? Then you’re in the right place because you’ll learn how to use disappearing text, a simple ESL word game with your students.
Another reason you’ll love this activity is that it requires no materials and no preparation time. It’s the perfect activity to keep in your back pocket to fill a few minutes or to use when you get a last-minute class thrown at you.
Keep on reading for all the details you need to know about disappearing text ESL activity.
Disappearing Text ESL Vocabulary Game
Time: 5-10 minutes
Materials: Whiteboard, marker and eraser
Disappearing text is a fun ESL vocabulary game that also works on English grammar. Write one (or more) sentences on the board reviewing new material from that class, or from the previous class if you’re using this as a warm-up activity.
I find that it works incredibly well if I’ve been teaching about adjectives. More ideas here: ESL Adjective Activities.
This can be done as last man standing or last group/table standing. Begin with all students standing. Have them read aloud what is written on the board. Remove one word (or phrase) at a time, and have them repeat the entire passage as it was originally written.
As students make mistakes, they must sit down and are out of the game. The winner is the student or table that remains standing the longest. If you are using this as a filler activity you can stretch the game by playing more than one round.
Alternatively, you could have the entire class do this activity together if you don’t have a lot of time. Done this way, you can do a single sentence in just a minute or two and it makes a fun option for an ESL word game.
Teaching Tips for Disappearing Text
Before you begin, let students know the order of play (table 1, table 2, from left to right, front to back, etc.) to keep things moving along in an orderly fashion. If the game seems too easy, remove more elements at one time (for example, two words instead of one), or in random order.
On the other hand, if it seems more difficult than you expected, remove items in order (from beginning to end or end to the beginning.) Use your discretion about what level your students are at and what they can handle.
If you have more than about 15 students, you should have them play in teams according to the seating arrangement (pairs/groups/tables). When one person on the team makes a mistake, then the entire group is out. This will shorten each round considerably. Since students are less likely to be engaged once they are out, you will want to keep things moving.
I often like to use this activity for holiday vocabulary, like Thanksgiving. There aren’t a ton of options for helping students remember this stuff but this is a good one.
Procedure for this Disappearing Texts Activity
- Write a sentence on the whiteboard. Optionally, have a PowerPoint slide prepared. If you want to play a few rounds, this can be the best option (write 1 sentence per slide).
- Have the entire class stand and read aloud what is on the board.
- Erase one word or phrase at a time and have the class repeat the sentence in its entirety. Or, students can do this activity individually (see the next step). You can go in a circle or call out names.
- Anyone who makes an error must sit down until there is one student, group, or table left standing.
- It’s also a nice idea for teaching English online as it works quite well.
Do you Like Disappearing Text?
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 57 Pages - 10/26/2015 (Publication Date)
If you liked this ESL vocabulary game, then you’ll need to check out this book, 39 ESL Vocabulary Activities: For Teenagers and Adults. It’s one of the few books dedicated exclusively to teaching English vocabulary.
Vocabulary Classes: They Can Be Fun
Teaching vocabulary to ESL/EFL students is usually pretty tedious. Teachers don’t like it. Students hate it.
However, with a wide variety of interesting, engaging activities, you can have better vocabulary classes. My students even mention that they had lots of fun learning new English words!
Available in a Variety of Formats
You can find the book in both digital and physical formats. The e-version can be read on any device by downloading the free Kindle reading app. Yes, it really is that easy to have top-quality vocab activities at your fingertips.
Keep a copy on the bookshelf in your teacher’s room as a handy reference guide. Or, take a copy with you on your phone or tablet for lesson planning in your favourite coffee shop.
This book is guaranteed to make teaching vocabulary less terrible than it usually is.
You can check it out for yourself on Amazon today, but only if you want a serious dose of ESL teaching awesome in your life, okay?
Have your say about this Vocabulary Activity for ESL/EFL Students
What are your thoughts about this quick ESL activity that is ideal for review? Have you tried this ESL memory game? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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Want another idea for teaching English? Check out 20 questions.
Last update on 2022-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I really like the disappearing game, I added a part in it where students who make mistakes can try again to correct the mistakes other made to bring them back in the game as well as to keep their attention as well as to giVe them a feeling of “I can do it”. The other advice is to do it on PPT slides as that way students can’t guess what’s missing, u can also make it easier by adding keywords for lower level at the bottom of each slide.
Thanks for sharing this… It works well!
Stephen Bunting says
Yes this is a useful activity which should engage most students!