Rich writes on many topics, including Chinese, teaching English, religion, traveling in Taiwan, football, and painting.
Fun Games to Learn English
This collection of fun games and role play activities for English language teachers should arouse some enthusiasm after a vocabulary drill or new grammar study.
As the companion piece to another article 10 Fun Classroom Activities to Help Students Practice Speaking English, these exercises are aimed at helping your students get to know each other better and practice speaking with confidence in the ESL classroom. English classes of all sizes and ages can get involved, meaning adults, children, parents, tutors, and school teachers can all participate. The activities can be used as time allows or if you want to focus on learning a specific skill such as speaking or practicing new vocabulary.
If your students do not know already then first teach them the following parts of the face: forehead, chin, ear, eye, nose, mouth. Now, ask the students to make fists with both hands and touch their ears. On the first round, you play the role of the leader and say: ear, ear, ear – forehead (or a different part of the face from the list above). The third time that you say ear, say it more slowly, so that other players know that you are about to switch. When the new part is called out (in this example, forehead), everyone must quickly move both of their fists from ear to forehead at the same time. If anyone, including the leader, touches any part of the face other than the forehead is the loser and takes over as the new leader. As punishment, the loser must share their views on any subject of your choosing with the class.
Fast Food Role Play
This role-playing exercise requires two students. Ask for volunteers or select from the class. One student will act as the manager of a fast food restaurant. The other will act as a student looking for a part-time job. The restaurant has advertised a part-time vacancy, so the student has come for an interview. The two should try to develop a lively yet formal conversation of the job duties, employee benefits, and the student’s qualifications and experience before the manager reaches his/her decision. Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: wages, salary, personality, official duties, and position in a job.
Travel Agency Role Play
This role-playing exercise requires two students. Ask for volunteers or select from the class. One student will act as an agent in a travel agency. The other student will act as a customer. The customer wants to take a trip to Australia for two weeks and asks for help from the agent about the travel route, airplane tickets, hotel rooms, places of interest, etc. The students should try to keep the conversation lively. Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: peak season, airlines, double room, single room, economy, first class, one way ticket, and roundtrip.
TV Discussion Panel Role Play
This role-playing exercise requires any number of students. Ask for volunteers or select from the class. Each student will select and play the role of a current or historical political figure such as: Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, the Dalai Lama, John Lennon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, etc. You will acts as the host of a TV discussion panel in which each of the famous political personalities participate. Begin the discussion by asking one of the students what they think about the future of America. After the first student has answered, each of the other students can give their opinions. The students should try to enliven their answers by using the person’s typical mannerisms and accent if possible. Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: improve, capitalism, free market economy, thoughts, peace, and get along with one another.
Using vocabulary the students have learned recently, prepare some cards with one word written on them. During class, select one of the cards without showing the students what is written on it. The students will try to figure out what the word is by asking questions, which you will answer. They may only ask “yes-no” or “choice type” questions such as: is it something you can eat? Is it made out of paper? Is it a thing or a person? Is it an animal? Can it move? Is it something we can use? The students can guess what is written on the card whenever they think they have enough information. Anyone who guesses right wins a piece of candy or another reward provided by you. Then go to the next card.
Company Employees Role Play
This role-playing exercise requires four students who will act as employees who work in the same company. Ask for volunteers or select from the class. Person A joined the company just two weeks ago. He/she has an MBA and takes work very seriously. Person B is an average employee who is fed up with the job after working there for ten years. Person C is an easy going person who has been working there for four years. The fourth student will act as the director of the office, Person D. A is working hard to finish a report due today but can’t concentrate because B and C are talking and laughing loudly. A asks them to keep the noise down and tells them to act more professionally in the workplace. This causes B to begin arguing with A while C tries to calm the situation. The director will walk in during the heated argument. Each student should think about what they would say and act in his or her role. Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: Master of Business Administration, be cocky, be serious, quarrel, and lecture somebody for wrongdoing.
Piece Together a Narrative
Copy each sentence below on a card, and give each student one or two cards in random order. The students must memorize the sentence on their card(s) and then hand the cards back to you. The students take turns to recite their sentence(s) to the class. After all students have spoken, the whole class must work out the correct sentence order to make the completed narrative.
- Everyone says exercise is good for your health,
- but I really don’t like doing exercise.
- No matter if it’s basketball or football,
- all types of ball sports are just running around a field.
- Think about it, after every time you run and jump, don’t you feel hot and thirsty?!
- I also don’t understand why so many people like watching sports games.
- Besides, does it really matter who wins and who loses!
- There’s also swimming.
- Of course, you won’t get hot from swimming,
- but as soon as you’re not careful then you could swallow water.
- The conditions aren’t good and you could die!
- Perhaps it’s only dancing that’s good.
- You can listen to a good song and dance at the same time;
- If you want to go fast then go fast,
- if you want to go slow then go slow,
- it’s so much better!
Shorten or lengthen the narrative according to the number of students you have in your class.
Musical Chairs Game
Ask your students of they know any songs in English. If not, then teach them a simple pop song, children’s song, or something suitable for the current holiday season. Make space so that the students can place their chairs in a circle with one chair less than the total number of students. The game starts with the students circling around the chairs, singing the song they have just learned. When you say ‘stop!’ every student should quickly take a seat. The one student left standing is the loser of this round. As a punishment, he or she must describe some important events in their life to the class and then he/she is out of the game. Remove one chair and start the game again. Repeat until only one player is left. Declare him/her as the winner.
Celebrity Name Game
Before class, prepare cards with names of well-known celebrities on them, one per student. The names should be easily recognizable to the students. Give each student a card and ask them to describe the person on his/her card to the class. Ask the students to add humor to their description by using the celebrity’s mannerisms. Their description may begin with statements such as: I’m male and over 6 feet tall. I have blonde hair. I recently married a famous singer. The rest of the class will guess the person’s identity. Split the class into two teams to add some healthy competition. Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: bald, belly, blonde-haired and blue eyed, and wear glasses.
Exchange Student Role Play
This role-playing exercise requires two students. Ask for volunteers or select from the class. One student will act as a curious young foreign exchange student. The other will act as his or her tutor. The student saw some advertisements for the upcoming presidential campaign. In class, he/she is asking the tutor questions such as: How does your country elect a president? Who is allowed to vote? Can anyone run for election? Some useful supplementary vocabulary includes: family background, popularity, reputation, record of formal schooling, qualifications, promise to undertake, and conditions.
Renu Dhir on February 05, 2020:
It was wonderful going through these ideas they are of course going to be of great help thanks a lot
Fabio Silva from Eunápolis on February 14, 2019:
Thanks for sharing these ideas. They´ll help me a lot!
Afdhol-Soetan on February 13, 2019:
thank you very much for sharing lots of creative learning ideas.
Niginabonu on November 07, 2018:
Thanks an ocean! It was really fruitful for me)
your nan on October 01, 2018:
very useful found out nothing from this website. thanks
Shaari Ali on June 26, 2018:
interesting!!! nice way to improve our english skills and this kind of game can be done by all levels of society so there are no excuse not to learn english language .Thanks for sharing.
Haikal Hassan on June 26, 2018:
Wonderful ideas! I really am interested in the games you've shared. I hope these games will help kids and also teenagers to improve their self confidence, vocabulary, fluency, etc. Thank you for sharing.
goodvibes on June 26, 2018:
i think all of that games are really helpful in my el class. i ask my lecturer to do this game when we felt sleepy. thankyou for this helpful article!
Haiqal saliman on June 26, 2018:
Actually the article give me many information.The article is very interesting...
Jeewantha rajasinghe on June 09, 2018:
Actually when students feel tired attending the same lesson for more than two three hours or more these type of activities are helped teachers to detain students in the classroom easily for more hours.
nice games,I am using them for my communication class. on June 07, 2018:
Nice games,I am using them for my communication class
Nafisa on March 04, 2018:
Really good activities for all language learners. Thank you for sharing
Shrilatha A S on February 16, 2018:
Diana No on January 27, 2018:
Really nice... students are trying to speak out in English without hesitation. Thanks for sharing...
Mohana on January 07, 2018:
Really nice... students are trying to speak out in English without hesitation. Thanks for sharing...
Boopathi on March 21, 2017:
It's really useful so,
sujithra on August 20, 2016:
Thank you so much for your new guiding given new ideas.. ...
Fell with hope full
keren cogan on November 18, 2014:
Wow ! nice information anyway that helps remind me of a special teacher duding these days.Im sure that Ive follow her steps that enables me to improve my way of speaking English within those kinds of activities taught to me!.......(^_^).....
Rich (author) from Gold Coast on July 02, 2013:
Thanks light20. It's great to hear from a future teacher. Education is very important and I'm sure you'll have your students speaking English confidently with fun classroom activities in no time. I wish you all the best on your final year.
LG from Ozamiz City, Philippines on July 02, 2013:
Great...I'm on my final year in college...taking up a degree in secondary education...
This reminds me of my practice teaching sessions...the kids like guessing game...They also enjoy chain story...some kids have hard time expressing their thoughts though in english language...but, they cope up easily...
Nice hub!!! Thank you for sharing...
Rich (author) from Gold Coast on April 18, 2013:
Thank you sarifearnbd
Shariful Islam from Bangladesh on April 18, 2013:
Well done, practical and important.