ESL Games are an excellent way to put students in situations where they need to use English. Basic repetition and root memorization can work to a point but to master a language you need to be able to make it your own and play with the language as a whole rather than simply compartmentalizing a weekly target language.
In my experience one of the best ways to use the English language as a whole is by using very broad and vague guessing games like 20 Questions. 20 Questions is a simple game that you probably already know from your own childhood.
- There are no materials required.
- 20 Questions works for almost any size of ESL class.
- This ESL game will work with almost any level of ability.
- A game of 20 Questions should last between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the size of your class.
- Divide your ESL class into pair or small groups of 3 or 4 students. I prefer pairs but in larger classes, small groups tend to work better.
- One person in the group has to think of a “thing” and not tell anyone what that “thing” is. It can be a food, name, place, color, etc. Usually the “thing” selected will be a noun.
- The other members of the group have a total of 20 Questions to figure out what the “thing” is.
- To make it more complicated the “Answerer” (the person answering questions) can only reply to question using “yes”, “no” or adverbs of frequency like “sometimes”, “rarely” and “usually”.
- The “Questioners” (people asking the questions) must ask questions such as “Is it something you can eat?” “Is it something you should eat?” ect.
- If the Questioners can guess what the “thing” is before they’ve reached the 20 Question maximum they win. If the fail to guess before the 20 Question limit the Answerer wins.
What makes this ESL Game so great is the simplicity. There are no materials required and the set-up takes seconds. The students asking questions have to figure out how to ask “yes/no” style questions and the randomness of the activity will surely bring some new vocabulary into the lesson.