Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Two Quick and Easy Dynamic Games Your English Language Learners Will Love

Do your English or foreign language learners like to play games? If they’re at all like my students, of course they do. Are you looking for a short, fast-paced, dynamic activity your language learners will love? While you’re at it, do you want them to practice their language skills too? Here are two adaptable games that work just great in my EFL classroom. I think they can work well for you too.


Also known as Tic-Tac-Toe in some countries, you can adapt this game in a number of ways to elicit spontaneous practice on the part of your English or foreign language learners. Divide a table, desk, the board, a sheet of paper or even a portion of the floor into a nine-square, three by three grid pattern using a marker or masking tape. Ask a question or give a short task to a student or group of students. A correct answer allows them to place a marker (or one of themselves) into a square.

An incorrect answer rolls the turn to the next student or group. The students or groups take successive turns giving answers (or completing short tasks) or responses, trying to get three in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Things can heat up quickly with this game activity.


B-I-N-G-O, a dynamic alternative or variation of “Tricky”, this seemingly age-old favorite uses five (or any number) in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally to determine a “winner”. Use grammar in context, vocabulary, synonyms, definitions, antonyms, questions – answers, short dialogues or whatever else you want your language learners to practice in context. The first student or small group to score five in a row is declared the “winner”. To continue to involve even more students or time, continue playing with a second or third place winner. You can also play until everyone has “won”.

Learners practice their English or foreign language skills, turn-taking and cooperative learning strategies while having a blast. As a board game, use nine different-colored squares on a table or desktop with plastic figures or the learners’ personal items (keys, key rings, pens, coins, buttons, small objects, etc.) as markers.


For a more Total Physical Response (TPR) approach, mark off the floor with masking tape and the students themselves become the “markers”. Use markers on the white board to write in the learners’ or team names for larger groups. But try one or both of these simple, quick activities to jazz up a slow-starting class or as a “wake up” dynamic for longer class sessions. Then judge for yourself how your learners respond.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

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