Need a little inspiration to inject fun back into your TEFL classroom? Want some quick and easy classroom games for teaching English to children? Then you’ve come to the right place! This blog has been guest-written by TEFL teacher Ciara, who has tried and tested these games herself! So, take your pick, and thank her later!
1. Name games
Name games are a really good way to start a lesson, they are especially helpful at the start of the year to help you remember the names of all your new students! Go round the circle and have the children say their name and one of their favourite things. When the next child introduces themselves, they must first introduce the child that went before them and so on until the last child remembers the names and favourite things of everyone in the group! This can be made harder for older students, by having a rule that their favourite thing must begin with the same letter as their first name, or easier for younger students, by just having them remember the names.
This is a game that I’ve found to be popular with children of all ages! I’ve used an envelope full of cut out words, or a set of picture flashcards for younger students, to play this. Secretly show a student a word or flashcard and then have them silently act it out, at the front of the class, while the other children call out – in English – what they think the secret word is. The children get super competitive over this, and the mimes can be hilarious! Charades can also be adapted to learn almost any vocabulary – animals, sports, hobbies, emotions – so it is endlessly useful!
Similar to charades, but the children draw the secret word instead of acting it out. I’ve found that children love being given to chance to use a marker and whiteboard – and to show off their artistic skills.
4. Stand up if you…
This game works best with a larger group and you need to have an open space to play in (it would work well outdoors, if you have an outdoor space!). Get all the children to form a large circle with you standing in the middle. You should then call out an instruction such as ‘stand up if you’re wearing shorts’, and everyone wearing shorts must switch places with each other in the circle while you try and steal one of their spots. The child left in the middle then gets to call out the next instruction. This game can be easily adapted to suit the vocabulary the class is learning such as appearance, clothing, likes/dislikes, family members, holidays – it’s amazing!
5. Guess the Flashcard
This game is very simple but very effective. While holding a hidden set of flashcards in your hands, slowly reveal them one at a time while the students guess what it is. The child who guesses correctly gets to keep the flashcard – something they absolutely love – and the child with the most flashcards at the end is the winner! Need some engaging flashcards to use with your class? Check out our readymade ones.
This is another flashcard game and it works best with small groups. Place all the flashcards on the floor and have the children gather around them. Then call out the name of the flashcard and have the children ‘slam’ their hands onto the correct card. The child whose hand is at the bottom of the pile – and is, therefore, the fastest – wins! Get them to keep their hands on their heads until you call out a word, so they don’t hover over the pictures!
For this game, you need to have two sets of matching flashcards or a set of pictures and corresponding words. Simply place all the cards face down on the floor and have the children take turns picking two cards until they match a pair. Children love this game and I’ve found it engages even the most easily distracted students. Again, it can be adapted to teach lots of different vocabulary – this week I used this game to teach Halloween words and it worked really well!
To play this you need a Bingo grid with pictures, words, or desired vocabulary (there are lots you can print for free on the internet) or you can make your own! Give each child a grid to mark off as you call out words – the first to get a row or to complete their grid is the winner. Make sure you check the winner’s grid to ensure they have matched the words correctly! This can be made harder by giving the children clues to the correct picture rather than the word itself.
9. 20 Questions
This game is great as it allows students to practice forming questions in English as well as revising their target vocabulary. Have a student think of a secret word while the other students take it in turns to ask questions and guess what they’re thinking. You can give them subject-specific vocabulary, or you can let them use their imaginations!
10. Find the Colour/Colour Touch
This game is a fantastic way to teach colours and is extremely popular with younger students. The rules are pretty simple, gather all the students together and call out ‘find something….’ The children then have to run around the classroom and touch something that’s the same colour. This is a great way to get the children moving, active and engaged. Plus, it can be pretty funny when they find the colour on you!
11. Simon Says
A classic (for anyone who grew up in the 90s!), this is a great game to get out that excess youthful energy and either warm-up the class at the beginning or wind-down at the end. It’s also great for learning body parts and commands in a fun and engaging way.
The basic premise is that the teacher stands at the front of the class and gives instructions to the students. If the instruction is preceded by the phrase ‘Simon says’, the students should copy the action (e.g. Simon says, hands on your head). If it isn’t preceded by ‘Simon says’ then they shouldn’t copy the action, and, if they do, they are out of the game. The last one in at the end wins! It sounds more complicated than it is but, trust me, the children catch on fast! You could make it even easier for your younger students and change it to ‘teacher says’ instead of ‘Simon says’, if you want!
A politically correct version of Hangman (another classic!) because you want to keep things positive in the TEFL classroom! It works the same way as Hangman, with you putting dashes on the board to represent the letters of a word you have selected and the students trying to guess what it is, letter by letter. The only difference is, when the students get a letter wrong, instead of drawing body parts, you draw the parts of a snowman (9 in total). The final part, which is a sad face, means the players have lost the game!
Make sure you keep this one as a quick warmer activity though, because student attention does start to wane quickly if you keep playing it for too long! It’s also really great for Christmas/Winter-themed games.
We bet you’re excited to get started! Everyone loves a good game! Need to find a TEFL job first? Check out the LoveTEFL jobs board and get applying today!
Still need to get qualified before you can look for a role? We can help you there! Check out our TEFL courses or arrange for a free call back with one of our TEFL experts, who can talk you through your options.
Happy TEFL teaching!