SDE International - Shenzhen

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Do you struggle to get your students to speak up in class?

Whether you have shy students or totally rambunctious ones, it can be really frustrating when your class doesn’t participate.

Speaking and listening games are a great way to break the ice and get everyone talking, and to get your students who might be nodding off engaged in the lesson.

How to Use These Games in Your Class

These games are great to play at the start or end of your lesson, or you can sprinkle them between parts of the lesson to get everyone energized again. You can also use games as rewards for good behavior by using tactics like letting the student who’s gotten the most points be the leader.

Most of these can be modified to fit different lessons, so you can play them again and again without them getting stale — and so that they supplement the lesson help the class solidify what they’re learning instead of simply serving as a diversion.

You can also modify these games to fit different levels of students, using more complex language for advanced learners. For younger students, stick to very simple words and model activities with a teaching assistant or more advanced student to help the class figure out how the game works.

  1. Simon Says

We all know how this one goes, right? One person says, “Simon says….touch your knees!” and you have to touch your knees. And then they say “Touch your toes!” and everyone who does so is out because Simon didn’t say.

This game is fantastic to play in class as is, and is particularly good because it involves movement.

You can modify it to be even more multipurpose, though, by adding directives like “Simon says write potato” to check spelling, or “Simon says find something blue in the classroom” to test vocabulary and make it a little more exciting.

  1. Telephone

Telephone is another old classic.

One person whispers a sentence like “I bought some ice cream at the store” to the person next to them, and each person whispers to their neighbor until the message has reached every student. Often the message gets garbled, coming out with something ridiculous like “I saw some mice scream in the morgue”.

Your students will get a total hoot out of this game, and it’s really easy to adapt to fit different units and different levels.

  1. I’m Going to a Picnic

This is a classic camp game. Each person mentions an item they’re bringing to a picnic, and then the next person adds an item and then recites all the items everyone else has mentioned.

So if Player 1 says, “I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing hot dogs,” Player 2 could say, “I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing hot dogs and napkins,” and Player 3 might follow up with “I’m going to a picnic and I’m bringing hot dogs and napkins and pizza.”

This game is endlessly fun, and you can change the destination to fit your current unit. You might not want to play it with very young learners, though, as it might be a little too hard for them to remember everything.

  1. Who Am I?

This game requires a little more prep time than some of the other ones, but students tend to really like it.

In small groups or individually, students should come up with a riddle related to your unit, and then one person or team comes to the front of the class and recites it. If your subject i

s animals, for example, a student might say, “I’m black and white. My body is soft and cuddly. I eat bamboo and sleep all day. What am I?” The first student to guess the answer gets to recite their riddle next.

You can use templates to guide your students in making their riddles (like “I’m ______. My body is _______. I eat ________.”), or let them figure them out on their own. This game can be played lots of different ways, which makes it perfect as a new staple in your classroom!

Make it your Own!

These are just a few games you can play in your classroom, but hopefully they’ll help you think about new ways to use old games, and different ways to use activities to liven up your lessons.

Let us know which games you use in your classroom, and how you modify classics to fit your students’ level and the subject matter you’re teaching!


SDE International - Shenzhen

New teaching jobs in China interviewing now, apply today!

About the Author:

Molly Oberstein-Allen
Molly Oberstein-Allen graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a philosophy degree and currently teaches English in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys travelling and meeting new friends.
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