Games to teach english to children

Updated May 25, 2017

Language acquisition is an active learning task, and there are many games that can be used to help teach English to children. Games are motivating and can be used to teach reading, writing and speaking skills. Many games can be used for both native speakers and ESL learners.

Team Games

Many games that help build English language skills can be accomplished in groups. Have teams do a relay race to write out the alphabet, one person and one letter at a time. The hangman game, in which you draw blanks for each letter of a word and students are given a certain number of turns of guessing letters before they must figure out the word, is another game that can be done in groups. You can give each child a card with a letter on it, have the children walk around the room during some music, and when the music stops, you can ask the children to line themselves in the order of the alphabet. You can also have children practice conversations with one another.

Musical Games

There are many popular children's songs that require active listening and following directions, all of which encourages knowledge of words in the English language. For instance, a freeze dance will reinforce understanding of the words "stop," "wait" and "go." The song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" helps children with body awareness and the names of body parts. "Old MacDonald" encourages knowledge of animals and what sounds they make. Any song that gives commands like "stop," "fast," "slow," "turn" or "clap" reinforces language skills.

Crosswords and Puzzles

Written games like crosswords or puzzles are great ways for children to learn letters and words. These games can be done individually or in groups. Write a few letters on a board and ask children to come up with as many words as they can using those letters. Ask children to name words that begin with a certain letter. You can have cards with words from different parts of speech, such as subjects and verbs, and ask children to arrange the cards to make complete sentences.


Any games you use should be age-appropriate. Young children who are just beginning to learn their alphabet or who are just learning how to read may have difficulty writing full sentences. Children who are more advanced may be bored with alphabet games. Give clear and concise directions to children before or after the activity, explain the purpose of the game. Repeat activities multiple times to help aid learning and memorisation. Games can be very motivating, so make the activities fun and enjoyable for children.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.