Okay, so who doesn’t want more interaction in their ESL or EFL classes, right? That’s where these ESL interactive games and activities come in. They’re fun, engaging and best of all, will get students interacting with you, and most importantly, each other. Keep on reading for some of my favourite interactive ESL Games.
Top 20 ESL Interactive Games, Activities, Worksheets and Lesson Plans
Are you ready for some ESL teaching awesome? Then let’s to the best interactive ESL games and activities you’ll need to plan your lesson in style!a
#1: ESL Board Games
Board games, by their very nature are an interactive activity. Did you know that it’s extremely easy to design your own for your TEFL classes? You can easily make them for just about any topic or level of student in just a few minutes. I use them for review at the end of a unit, or as review before the midterm or final exam.
Quick tip: You can often find board games in the teacher’s activity book that may come with your ESL textbook. Check there first before spending time making your own. Check them out here: Board Games for ESL Students.
#2 ESL Interactive Vocabulary Game: Draw a Picture
If you’re teaching your students about ways to describe people, animals, objects, etc., then you may want to try out this fun and interactive ESL activity. The ways it works is that you put students into pairs, and then show one of the people a secret picture. They have to describe the picture to their partner who can’t see it, and then they draw it. The results? Usually hilarious, so be sure to compare them with each other.
Find out more details here: Drawing a Secret Picture.
#3: Taboo Interactive ESL Party Game
You’ve probably played taboo with friends or family somewhere along the line. You can also play it with your ESL/EFL students! Just be sure to use vocabulary words that they know, and/or that you’ve recently used in class. If you don’t remember what taboo is, basically you have to get your team to say a certain word by describing it. The catch is that you can’t use words from a certain list.
It’s a fun party game so try it out today: Taboo for English Learners.
#4 ESL Interactive Game: Rock-Scissor-Paper
This is a fun ESL game that requires a ton of interaction between students. They NEED to talk with other people in order to complete the activity. It’s ideal for a quick review game before a test, or at the end of a unit. The way is works is that you make a set of questions/answers.
Then, separate them into strips of paper (questions and answers separately too). Give each student 4-5 papers and they have to find their match. Once they do, they do rock-scissor-paper and the winner takes both papers and gets a point.
Here’s everything you need to know about this interactive review game: Rocks-Scissor-Paper ESL Review Activity.
#5: Flip-Chart, an Interactive Vocabulary Review Game
If you teach beginners and are looking for a fun game to help students with new vocabulary, consider “flip-chart.” It’s an ideal way to round out a unit, or to do some review before a vocabulary test.
Learn more here: Interactive ESL Vocabulary Game.
#6 Interactive ESL Game: Just a Minute
This is a fun ESL activity that focuses on speaking fluency. It works for just about any topic, is an ideal warm-up and it best for intermediate to advanced level students. The way it works is that students have to speak about a certain topic for one entire minute without stopping. The way you can make it interactive is to put students into groups of 4 or 5. The “listeners” have to ask 1-2 related follow-up questions after the person is finished talking.
Check it out here: Just a Minute ESL Warmer.
#7 ESL Interactive Game for Kindergarten: Flashcard Sentences
If you teach English to kindergarten students, but don’t have a set of flashcards, then you’ll need to get one ASAP! They are extremely versatile and lend themselves to a ton of different activities. My secret? You can often buy a matching set to go along with the textbook you are teaching from.
One of the simplest, interactive games you can do is to hold up a flashcard to each student. Then, they have to make a sentence with the picture. If correct, they keep the card. If incorrect, it goes back into the pile. Continue until the flashcards are gone.
More information here: Flashcard Sentences.
#8 Interactive Activity for ESL Students: The Hobby Unit
Let’s be real. Most teachers are pretty tired of teaching about “hobbies” and I’m sure most students feel the same way. It seems like every single English textbook out there has a unit on this. If you find one that doesn’t, please let me know!
In order to spice things up a bit, I like to do this interactive activity. Basically, each student has to teach their group how to do something. It could be how to make fried rice if their hobby is cooking. Or, how to kick a ball if they like soccer. Just something simple that they can teach someone in a couple of minutes.
Then, to make it more interactive, each student in the group has to ask 1-2 follow-up questions.
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Bolen, Jackie (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 100 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)
#9 ESL Grammar Interactive Game: Can/Can’t
This is a fun, interactive game that you can use with your beginner level students when teaching about can/can’t. Students have to choose some secret nouns, and then give hints about it, using can/can’t. I prefer to have students write down the hints because it goes more smoothly than just having them think on their feet, especially if they are true beginners.
Check it out here: Can/Can’t ESL Game.
#10: ESL Christmas Interactive Games
Okay, so Christmas is just around the corner and you’re looking for some fun and engaging ESL games or activities to use with your students? Then you’re certainly in the right place.
Here are 7 of my favourites to try out today: Interactive ESL Christmas Activities
#11: Hot Potato
If you’re looking for an interactive ESL game that’s some pure fun and excitement, then you’ll want to consider Hot Potato. The way it works is that students pass around a “potato” and when the timer goes off, the person holding it has to do something. In my classes, it’s usually answer a question of some kind.
If you want to make it a little bit more interactive, you could consider requiring the person previously holding the potato to think of the question themselves instead of the teacher. More information here:
#12 ESL Interactive Games: Charades
I’m ALL about having some fun party type classes with my students to celebrate the end of a unit, an upcoming holiday or the end of the semester. One of my favourite interactive games that I like to play with them is charades. I’m sure you’ve played this with family or friends before.
The way it works is that you have to act out a secret word or phrase and your team has to guess what is it. Find out more about it right here:
#13: Do you Like to?
This ESL interactive activity requires that students write down five facts about themselves on 5 strips of paper. The more unique, the better.
Then, you distribute the strips of paper to other students in the class who have to ask questions to find their matches. It’s a fun game that’s ideal for getting students to work on yes/no questions. Find out more about it right here:
#14: Tell your Story: An Interactive Activity for Reported Speech
It’s not that easy to come up with interactive, fun reported speech activities, even though this grammar point comes up quite often in real life. So, it makes sense to practice it in class with our students and not just skip over that section in the book.
If you’re looking for an interactive, natural way to do it, then you’ll want to check out this activity: Tell your Story ESL Reported Speech Activity.
#15 Interactive ESL Activity: Discussion Starters for Children or Adults
One of the best ESL interactive activities is straight up discussion! I find that it’s best to offer students some discussion starters so that you’re not met with utter silence when you tell your students to start talking to each other!
Here are some of my top picks for interesting things your students could talk about:
#16: WH Questions Activities
Who, what, when, why, where and how are by their very nature, interactive words. They are the start of a question in English, and you’ll probably want to have a partner to answer them, right?
There are a ton of interactive ESL games to practice W + H questions. You can see some of our top picks right here:
#17 ESL Interactive Activities for Giving Directions
Another topic that lends itself extremely well to interactive activities is giving directions. After all, you can’t give directions to yourself, right? Well, I guess you could in theory but it’d be a little bit weird!
The best directions activities are those with an information gap of some kind. By that I mean where one student has the information another student needs. And, they have to interact with each other to find out what it is.
Do you want to know more? Then check this out: ESL Giving Directions Activities.
#18: Tips for Interactive Small Group Discussions
When students thin of a conversation class, it’s often free-flowing discussions that they want. Or, if you like to have interactive discussions in your English classes, then you’ll want to check out these top tips for making them even better.
Maybe you’ve been met with blank stares and silence when everyone should be talking? Seriously, we’ve all been there and the good news is that it can be easily avoided These are the tips for you, so neglect them at your peril!
Get your interaction on!
#19: Relay Race ESL Game
#20: Telephone ESL Speaking + Listening Game
A fun game that you can play with kids or teens is telephone. The way it works is that you give the first student in the line a sentence or phrase. They pass that to the next person and so on until the end. At that point, their sentence is compared to the original.
The results? Usually really funny! Find out more here:
What about ESL Interactive Online Games?
If you’re looking for some interactive ESL games online, then this isn’t the place for that! We specialize in games and activities for teachers to do with their students in class. However, here are some of our favourite sources for online games for ESL students: Games to Learn English
Quick tip: Many of the major textbooks these days have online practice for students. This will often require a special code to get this up and running and some support from the admin at your institution as well. But, it’s often quite useful as far as teaching tools go, so it may be worth looking into.
Sure, they’re not ELL games online so your students may not love them that much, but they do have the added benefit of corresponding to exactly what you teach in class. This fact alone makes it worth its weight in gold.
ESL Interactive Lesson Plans
Do you need some help with planning more interactive, communication focused ESL lessons for kids or adults? Then you’ll most definitely need to check out some of our go-to sources for ESL lesson planning right here:
How to Teach English Conversation
Surprisingly, it’s possible to teach English conversation in a pretty non-interactive kind of way. Yes, I know. It seems actually difficult to do this, but many teachers do!
The goal of a conversation class is to make it as student-centred as possible. Your students should be doing all the hard work, not you. This means that if you have a class of more than say 4 students, you’ll want to get them interacting and talking with each other, instead of with the entire class.
Here are some of my tips and tricks for how to make this happen: How to Teach English Conversation.
Have your Say about these ESL Interactive Games and Activities
What are your thoughts about these interactive ESL activities or games? Have your tried any of them out in your classes? Leave a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful teaching resource.
Last update on 2020-04-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API