Flip Chart ESL Vocabulary Review Game
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Materials Required: Flip-chart or flashcards
This is a fun way to review some vocabulary words. It can work for any level of student, but it’s ideal for beginners to intermediate when the vocab words are quite simple.
I’ve used this activity for small classes of 10, or big classes of 20. It works equally well for all, but the ideal number of people on a team is around 5-6. More than that and not everyone is able to participate.
The “captain” sits in a chair at the front of the class facing her team. The teacher stands behind the captain with vocab words on a flip-chart or a stack of flashcards.
If you use flashcards, make sure they are big enough for everyone to be able to see them, even at the back of the class.
The team has to give hints in English to the captain until she can guess the word. At that point, the team moves on to the next word. Each round is three minutes and you can play 3-4 rounds with different captains. I give each group one “pass” per round in case there is a word that the captain really doesn’t know.
Make sure you emphasize that this game requires speaking only English.
It is simply too easy for students to say the word in the first language and then the captain to say it in English and then it’s not a useful speaking activity. I warn students at the beginning of the game that if I hear a word in the first language, that round will immediately finish, even if they are only 5 seconds into it.
Also, be sure to tell your students that they cannot use actions, but must only give hints by speaking. The same immediate finish rules applies for this as well.
One of the cons of this game is that the other team is sitting idly waiting while the other team is going. A way to alleviate this problem is by keeping the rounds very short so that waiting time is reduced.
You can also mention that any word that a team has “passed” on could come back into play so it’s good to pay attention. You could also elicit the other team’s help to watch for any infractions such as making actions or not speaking in English.
- Prepare a large flip-chart of flashcards with your target vocabulary. I often use an old notebook.
Put the students into teams of 4-8 students. They choose their captain for the first round.
The first team sends their captain to the front of the class who sites in a chair facing their team, while the teacher stands behind them with the flashcards. Give the team 2-3 minutes to describe as many words as possible, using only English to the captain who must guess them.
Continue to play until all teams have played an equal number of rounds, with different captains for each round.
The team with the most points at the end of all the rounds is the winner.
Like this Vocabulary Review Activity?
If you like this vocabulary review game, then you’re going to love this book: 39 ESL Vocabulary Activities: For Teenagers and Adults.
Years ago, I taught at a winter camp and was assigned “vocabulary” as my area to teach. I thought to myself, “Could there be a more boring thing to teach in the world of ESL?”
Then, I got to work coming up with lots of fun, interesting games and activities to use with my students. Then I put them into this book that I think will be really useful if you teaching English vocabulary.
The book is available on Amazon in both print and digital formats. The (cheaper) digital copy can be read on any device if you download the free Kindle reading app.
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