One of the best ways to improve your English speaking skills is by playing games and role playing. To help you out, we have compiled a list of 17 English games for you to try, some of which can be accessed online and some that can be played at home or within an English lesson. Many of the games are for more than one player, but some can be adapted for individuals. Let us know what you think.
In order to practice your understanding and recognition of words, try playing reverse charades. To play, one person is given an English word on a card, which they then need to provide clues on with actions and gestures. The rest of the players then have to guess the word until they get it right. This is best done with a small group of people. This is excellent in testing out topics that you have been learning in English, for example, sports and hobbies or occupations. This is great for English beginners. You can find more information about playing charades here.
Based on the classic British TV program Countdown, this game helps you practice English vocabulary and spelling. Players take it in turns to select random consonants and vowels, nine are selected in total and then all players need to use these letters to create the longest word that they can. The person who finds the longest English word gains the length of the word as points. This game can also be played individually, with players trying to beat their own longest word length. There are also interactive countdown platforms available online which generate the letters for you and set a 30 second timer.
Password is a group game where players guess an English word through a series of single-word clues related to the answer. It has been previously played on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon so it may sound familiar. The game is best played in teams, with each team taking a turn to guess the word. Depending on your English language skills, the words can be simpler such as animals or colours, or more complex.
4. Stop the Bus
Stop, which is sometimes known as stop the bus, is a word game that helps English language learners practice their vocabulary. Simply choose five or six different categories (e.g. countries, animals etc.) and write them down as a heading on your paper. A random letter is then selected, and players rush to write a word underneath each heading that starts with the chosen letter. Once a player has an answer for each section, they shout stop! and the round finishes. The winner is the person that wins the most rounds in total.
5. Whisper Challenge
The whisper challenge gets players to really focus on the pronunciation of English words and how the mouth moves to form them. To play, one person chooses a word and silently mouths it to the other players. It is important to ensure that the word selected is known by the players for the game to work. The players then need to guess the word.
While this game is very entertaining, it could significantly improve your lip reading skills. The reason this is important is that in a real-life situation, it is often difficult to hear in a noisy environment, and lip reading in English will help greatly. Check out this whisper challenge session with The Rock and Kevin Hart.
WordShake is a brilliant game that can be accessed online or played as a board game (known as Boggle). The game generates a number of random letters, and players have to try and think of as many English words that they can spell with the selected letters in three minutes.
Each correct word that a player gets gives them a point, the winner of the game is the person with the most points. This is great for English learners at any level as there are no complex rules, and any words can be used. This game can be made more difficult for advanced English speakers by only awarding points for words that no other player has identified. This means that players then need to be thinking of more obscure words to win. You can have some fun practicing this with this exercises from the British council.
7. Name Ten
Similar to the game above is the name ten category game. Each round of this game is a different category which can be altered depending on the level of English fluency. Rounds can have themes as simple as numbers and colours, or more complicated such as occupations or food. A timer is set for one minute, and each player has to try and think of ten words related to the category. Players get a point for each word they write correctly and bonus points for any word they write that has not been thought of by another player. This means that players are rewarded for the more unusual English vocabulary. While this game works better with multiple players, it is also a great way for an individual to test their knowledge of a topic at home without their notes in front of them.
8. Crossword Puzzles
Classic crossword puzzles are a good way to develop English skills, and they can be easily accessed online. There are thousands of crosswords available at a range of levels to suit all learners. I consider them like mental gymnastics, so much that I play crossword puzzles daily.
Crosswords are an excellent way to develop comprehension skills and vocabulary. To find appropriate crosswords search for ESL crosswords as these as specially designed for English learners.
9. 20 Questions
20 questions is a game commonly played in schools; however, it can be used to practice English skills. Ask everyone playing the game to write a number of random words on separate pieces of paper (e.g. school, broccoli, panda) and put them in a pile. One by one, each player chooses one word, and the players try and guess what the word is by asking no more than 20 questions (in English, of course). The questions must only be answered with yes or no. If the players guess the word within 20 questions, then they win.
There are many 20 questions on online platforms that can also generate words for you in English to use.
Ask your English teacher or tutor, or even someone who can speak the language fluently, to write down ten English sentences with one mistake in each. This mistake could be the wrong word, poor phrasing or a spelling issue. You then have to go through and identify the ten errors. This is a great game for more advanced English learners who are attempting to become fluent. The exercises forces you to recognize errors which will considerably advance your fluency.
11. Role Play
Think of this as a drama lesson. In pairs or groups, choose a scenario such as a shopping trip or a tourist asking for directions and act out the scene, communicating with each other only in English. This will help develop your communication skills and the ability to think of English phrases on the spot, rather than preparing them in advance. This is an excellent demonstration of the game.
12. Two Truths and a Lie
Two or more people can play this game. Each person writes down in English, three facts about themselves. One of these facts is false, while the others are true. The players then take turns reading the facts to the group with the other players guessing which is the lie. They can ask extra questions to help work this out. The game practices your English communication skills and makes you formulate new questions on the spot.
Hangman is a classic word guessing game that can allow you to practice new words. You need at least two people to play this game, a piece of paper and a pen. Player one thinks of a word and draws a straight line on the paper for each letter. Player two needs to guess one letter at a time until they guess the full word. If the person gets a letter wrong, player one begins to draw part of a gallows and a person being hung, continuing to add a section on every time there is an incorrect guess. The aim of player 2 is to guess the word before the person hangs.
14. Reading and Storytelling
While reading is not exactly a game, you can make it one. Choose a book written in English and begin to read it. This will help your reading and pronunciation of English words. Instead of continuing to read the next page of the book, however, stop and make up your own part of the story, telling the tale in English. This will help boost your communication skills and broaden your imagination and creativity. If you are playing this with more than one person, each person can continue at the end of the others stories, meaning that they have to pay attention and then describe what happens next.
15. Odd One Out
Make lists of five objects, four of which have something in common, and one is the odd one out—for example – purple, blue, green, banana and yellow. Everyone in the group makes these lists, and then another player identifies which is the odd one out. This will aid understanding of the vocabulary and can be altered to suit any level of English learner by simply changing the topic and difficulty of the words.
16. Tell Me 5
If you are looking for a game that practices English and fast thinking skills, then try to Tell Me 5. To play this game, write some categories of words that you have been learning recently (e.g. foods or colours) onto cards and then select one at random. In less than one minute, the person who chose the card would need to list, in English, five words related to that category.
And finally, the last game on our list is an English twist on the classic Tic-Tac-Toe game that will allow you to practice your English knowledge. On a piece of paper, draw a large 3×3 grid. Inside the grid, ask your English teacher or tutor to write down a verb in each square. Plan this game in pairs like a normal Tic-Tac-Toe game, but when you select a square to place your symbol on it, you will need to use the verb correctly in a sentence. Like in the traditional game, the first player to mark three boxes in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row wins.
As you can see from our extensive list above, there are many different games that can be played to develop English skills. These games can be used for beginners up to advanced English learners and can be adapted for individuals or small and large groups. The most effective way to learn English is to practice it, and these games help you do that. So what are you waiting for? If you are like us and love games, why not check out our tongue twisters, I am certain you would be entertained. Try some out today and let us know which ones you love.