Vocabulary Auction | Fun Game for ESL Students

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Are you looking for a fun way to help students learn new English vocabulary? Then you’re certainly in the right place. This vocabulary auction game does require some preparation but your students will love playing it.

Best of all? They’ll be remembering English words without even realizing it.

Vocabulary Auction: Preparation

There are plenty of variations of auction games, but vocabulary has the least amount of preparation involved. It will be more fun if you have fake money, poker chips, etc.

Begin by having the students list vocabulary they have been studying. Try to get at least 20 terms from them. Next, divide the class into groups of 3-4. Give each group a budget of $1000 and have them bid in increments of $50-100. (Note: if you are using money or tokens, you will need your own supply, to pay out groups who double down.)

Vocabulary Auction: How to Play

Once you have the list on the board, auction every word away to the highest bidder. As groups run out of money, they have to stop bidding. This is where money or tokens come in handy, because you can collect the money and groups can’t become overdrawn.

If students will just be working with a budget, have each group nominate a treasurer to keep track of spending. The treasurer should also keep track of unsuccessful bids.

As bidding slows, like an auctioneer, say, “Going once, going twice, SOLD!” A mallet is fun, if you have one. If you teach children, your school may have a giant plastic one kicking around somewhere.

Vocabulary Auction: Finishing Up

Now that the auction is over, it’s time for students to try to win their money back. Go down the list and have the winning group define the word. If they can, they get their money back, and can double down by using the word correctly in a sentence.

If they cannot, the second highest bidder gets a chance. Then if they are also unsuccessful, the next highest bidder gets a chance, and so on, until one group gets it right. When all terms have been defined, the winner is the team with the most money.

Like this ESL Activity?

If you like vocabulary auction, then you’ll really need to check out this book: ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks-For Teachers of Students Ages 6-12. It has all the routines and tools you need to manage your elementary ESL classroom effectively. Plus, there are some of our favourite ESL games and activities like this one, that you can keep in your back pocket when you’re planning your lessons.

You can get your copy of ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks on Amazon. It’s available in both print and digital formats. You can get the digital format by downloading the free Kindle reading app on any device.

Check out the book on Amazon:

—>ESL Classroom Management Tips and Tricks<—

Check out this Sentence Auction for ESL Students

Learn about this variation of our auction activity, in this case with sentences:

Have your Say about Vocabulary Auction

What are your thoughts about this English vocab game? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Or, give up one tip for how you help students to remember new words in your classes?

Also be sure to give this article a share on social media. It’ll help other teachers, like yourself find this useful ESL teaching resource.

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