ESL Reading Games

Written by mary grace konzier
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ESL Reading Games
English language learners need to practice reading text every day. (student image by lugol from

There are many interactive group activities teachers can incorporate into the English as a second language (ESL) classroom to increase students' reading abilities and grammar comprehension. These games can be used in elementary classrooms as well as with adult ESL students.

Dictation Game

Divide the class into groups of three. The first student is the reader and reads a short passage from a story or dialogue from a play to one other student. The second student is the writer who takes dictation and writes down what the reader reads to him. The third student is the runner who relays messages between reader and writer and assists with capitalisation, spelling and punctuation. The first team to correctly write the passage in full is the winner. This game helps students with their reading and writing skills by dictating and transcribing the written word.

Sentence Jumble

Divide the class into teams of three or four students. Construct sentences on paper, three more than the number of teams in your class. Cut sentences into words and divide into envelopes which will be passed out to each team. Each team must unscramble the words in the envelope to form the correct sentence; the first team to do so is the winner. Have students write the sentences in their notebooks after unscrambling. This game teaches students sentence construction and vocabulary.

Hot Potato Read

Read a story to the class and have students will form a circle in the classroom. Play music and students will pass around a ball; when the music is stopped, the student holding the ball will read a paragraph from the story the teacher just read to students. Students will continue with the game until the entire story has been read by the class. Students improve their reading ability and comprehension while playing this game.

Word Search

Pick out a book with vocabulary words students have worked on in class; each student will have a book to follow along with the teacher. Write vocabulary words from the story on the board, divide the class into two teams, and have students keep their books shut. Call out a vocabulary word. The first team to find the word in the book scores for their team. Students will recognise words and vocabulary by sight after playing this game.

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