How to Play ESL Speaking Bingo
Time: 20-30 minutes
Level: High-Beginner to Advanced
Materials Required: Blank “Bingo” grids, or blank paper
ESL Speaking Bingo is a very fun activity that kids, teenagers as well as university students seem to love. Have a list of about 35-40 vocabulary words that you’ve been studying (on the PPT works well). If you use less, the game will be over very quickly.
Give the students a pre-made Bingo Grid, or have them draw a 5×5 grid. Then the students fill in the grid randomly from the list of words on the board or PowerPoint. Then, choose someone to go first (rocks-scissor-paper, draw numbers out of a hat, according to the attendance sheet, etc.).
The first student describes a word, but doesn’t actually say the word. The next person describes another word and on it goes, just like a regular Bingo game, but the students are speaking the whole time. You can do variations, such as “1 line,” “2 lines,” “X-Bingo” and “Blackout. ”
This variation works best in smaller classes of ten or less.
What about With Bigger Classes?
In bigger classes, you can describe the words but it becomes solely a listening and writing exercise instead of a speaking one. Another way to do it would be to put students in small groups of 6-8 to play together; there are two benefits—there’s more student talking time and it becomes more of a strategic game because each student can keep an eye on their opponent’s boards.
Teaching Tips for ESL Bingo
One important strategy to increase fluency that our students need to practice is producing synonyms of a word they don’t know, or if can’t remember the exact one that they want. This Bingo game is an excellent way to focus on this.
ESL speaking bingo requires absolutely no prep-time if you are given a class at the last minute and need something to fill the time. Simply ask the students what they’ve been studying the past few days or weeks and if they say, “animals,” then ask them to tell you all the animals they know and write them on the board and that will form the list they have to choose from as they prepare their boards.
Ask the students to use a highlighter or just an “x” over the words instead of scribbling it out entirely with their pens. This way, you are able to check their answers in case of a Bingo.
1. Prepare blank Bingo grid photocopies beforehand (or students can draw their own on paper), as well as a list of vocab words (PowerPoint works well).
2. Students fill in the Bingo grid with their chosen words.
3. The first student chooses a word and describes it, using hints but not the word itself. You can choose the order of who describes words any number of ways: drawing numbers, seating arrangement, alphabetical order, etc.
4. All students cross off that word if they have it on their Bingo grid. The next student describes a word and so on.
5. The first student to get one line is the winner. The next winner is two lines, then “X,” and then “blackout. ” My rule is that you can’t win more than one round.
Like this ESL Speaking Activity?
ESL Speaking Bingo is from this book, which is available on Amazon: 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities: For Teenagers and Adults
More ESL Bingo
Check out this other teacher’s take on ESL Bingo in this short video below:
What do you Think about Speaking Bingo?
Do you play Bingo with your English students? Do you have any variations that you like to use? Leave a comment below and share your tips with us.