Teaching English to teenagers can be quite difficult because they are notorious for not really wanting to participate in class. They are often shy, tired, and haven’t chosen to take your English class.
However, help is here with these top five ESL games for teenagers that are guaranteed to get your teenage students participating in class, speaking English, and having fun despite themselves. Try out just a few of these ESL games for teenagers and you’ll notice that students like your class, like you, and will begin to like English more and more each day.
ESL Games for Teens: Top 13 Picks
Let’s get to the best ESL games and activities for teenagers.
#1: Concentration ESL Memory Game
Concentration is one of the best vocabulary ESL games for teenagers. It takes a bit of time to make the cards, but if you laminate them, you can use them again for different classes in the future, so it’s well-worth it to have a few sets of these handy. Students find the game really challenging, but fun and it brings out their competitive natures.
This ESL memory game also works extremely well for little children. You can adapt the cards to make them easier, or harder depending on the level and age of your students. For example, older students may have to match synonyms or antonyms. Younger students may just have to match a picture and a single word.
You can check out all the details about how to play the concentration ESL memory game with your students today:
#2: Apples to Apples ESL Vocabulary Activity
Apples to Apples is a game that can be used for a “game” or “activity” class and it also makes an excellent vocabulary review game. You can buy the cards on Amazon, make your own with the specific vocabulary that you’ve been teaching, or have the students help you make them as well. It really is up to you and how much time you have.
Here’s how to set up Apples for Apples for your ESL classes:
#3: Running Dictation: A 4-Skills ESL Activity
Running Dictation is one of the best ESL games for teenagers I’ve ever used in class. It’s fun, challenging, covers all 4-skills and can really energize even the quietest, most apathetic of classes. It also makes an excellent review activity if there is a specific grammar point or vocabulary words that you want the students to see one more time.
If you want to do this engaging 4-skills ESL activity with your classes, here are more details about how to set it up:
#4: Board Games for ESL Students
I love a good ESL board game, especially for teenagers because they harness the power of competition in a challenging way. Make sure you design them well, however, so that there is an element of random to them. Also design the questions so that students must speak English in order to complete the task.
Check out this video where I explain how I use board games in my classes, and a link to an example board game that I made for my students here:
#5: Charades: A Fun ESL Party Game
Charades is an oldie, but a goodie and it makes an excellent way to review vocabulary. It’s also great for a “party” day where you just want to have some fun with your students. Fun with a bit of review thrown in there? Love it!
Here’s how I set-up the Charades ESL activity for my students:
#6: Making Predictions
Who doesn’t like making some predictions about the future, right? Besides being fun, it’s an excellent way to introduce or review the future verb tenses with your teenagers.
The good news is that there are a ton of fun, engaging games and activities that can go along with this topic. Check them out here:
#7: Giving Directions
ESL teens and directions are a natural fit! That’s because there are a ton of fun and interactive games and activities you can do with this, including information gap, communicative ones. Do you want to know more? Then you’ll want to take a look at these ideas here:
I love to do some presentations in my English classes for a number of reasons. They can:
- Build student confidence
- Help improve speaking skills
- Be very motivating if you give students a choice of topics
- Be fun if you allow for groups
- Increase student listening skills
- Be a nice change of pace from the teacher being at the front of the class talking
Of course, there are plenty more reasons why teachers might consider doing some presentations in their classes. What I’ve found over the years is that they’re an excellent ESL teens activity. If you want to know more about details about how to incorporate them into your classes, check this out:
#9: Task Based Activities
If you want to increase student motivation and participation in your classes, then consider using some task-based activities. Teenagers love working with their friends in groups too so they’re a natural fit.
Find out how to incorporate task-based teaching into your English classes here: Task Based Learning Introduction.
#10: Health Activities
Health is a very relevant topic for teenagers! I love talking about things like smoking, drinking, junk food and exercising with them because it always leads to some very interesting and fun discussions.
There are a number of things you can do related to this topic. Find out some of them here: ESL Health Games and Activities.
#11: Chain Spelling ESL Activity
If you want to review new vocabulary words, then consider playing the chain spelling game. The way it works is that all the students have to stand up and take turns spelling out words, letter by letter. If someone misses a letter, they are “out” and the game continues until one person is left standing.
Sounds like something you want to try out with your teens? You can see all the details here: Chain spelling ESL Game.
#12: What are you Cooking?
4-skills ESL activities and games are like the holy grail of English teaching. What are you cooking is exactly that, plus it has the added bonus of requiring no materials or prep time and the students like it too. It’s so ideal to have an activity like this in your back pocket to pull out in case of English teaching emergency when you get a last minute class on your schedule.
Want to know more? Find out here: What are you Cooking?
#13: Telephone Speaking Game for Teens
A fun way to review just about any grammar point or vocabulary set is to play telephone which is also known as Chinese Whispers. The way it works is that you give a sentence to the first students who must pass it down the line until the and. At that point, the sentence they have is compared to to original.
The results? Usually hilarious! Sounds like something you want to try out in your classes? Find out all the details you need to know here:
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Have your Say about these Games and Activities for Teenagers
What are your thoughts about our top picks for ESL games and activities for teenagers? Have you tried out any of them from this list, or do you have another that you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
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