Published 12th October 2015


Games and fun activities are an important part of the TEFL classroom and our lessons. Teaching and learning English can be quite dull and though at times it can be necessary to knuckle down and focus on the nitty-gritty, games can be a great way for learners to put their language to good use while not really paying attention to the learning aspect of it. If we can convince our learners that they are not actually in an English classroom but rather having fun in English, their motivation will increase and they will want to use their English without even thinking about it.

Large classes can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to games and activities, but all that is necessary is some thought and planning. Once you get used to organising groupings and activity stages with large groups, basically any game can be enjoyed in the classroom. The key is to divide the class into groups and so play games in groups rather than as a whole class.

Here are some of our favourite games which can be used in large classes and for a variety of teaching points:

  • Pictionary – Great for reviewing vocabulary. Students take turns to draw a vocabulary word and their teammates must guess what it is as quickly as possible. Works especially well as a team game. The difficulty can be increased by choosing phrases, collocations and idioms.
  • Mingling – Turn any discussion activity with questions into a mingling activity by allowing only one question per student. In other words, each student has to ask the other students in the class only one question, so in order to complete the activity they will need to speak to a few (if not all) of their classmates.
  • Running dictation – Put the students into pairs and let them choose one as the writer and one as the runner. Before the lesson you will have put up sentences or questions or phrases (depending on the lesson) on the walls around the classroom or even in the hallway. The runner needs to run to each of the sentences, memorise it (no writing it down), run back to the writer and try to remember it. This continues until all the language has been written down by the writer and checked by the runner. Fastest team wins.
  • Quizzes – General knowledge quizzes are a great way to introduce a topic, while language-specific quizzes are ideal for revision purposes. Putting the students into teams and turning it into a quiz automatically makes it more exciting and interesting. Think of it as basically a pub quiz, without the pub. Prizes are optional.

Chinese whispers – Works well with lower-level classes. Whisper a sentence or two to a student, who must then whisper the sentence to the next student in line, until the sentence arrives at the last person, usually a jumbled mess. Students can then work out what the original sentence was. This can be made more confusing (and fun) by starting another chain from the other end of the class, or even in the middle so the sentences clash at some