ESL Games & Activities for Adults

Written by william carne
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ESL Games & Activities for Adults
Teaching ESL to adults often requires different tactics. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Teaching English as a second language to adults can be difficult. Games and projects that work well for younger learners can seem childish, hampering the learning process for adults. Adult learners sometimes need more complicated and challenging activities to keep them engaged.

Board Games

Board games like Pictionary, Boggle and especially Scrabble, are excellent classroom learning tools for adult English as a Second Language students. English-related board games provide a break from lectures and help students use words in new and active ways. Using a board game to break up a class or as a reward after a difficult day of grammar lessons is a good way to raise students' spirits without sacrificing valuable classroom time.

Odd One Out

This game is fun to play with adults because they can use their non-language related knowledge while practicing English words. In Odd One Out, the teacher chooses four or more words from a specific category and the students must decide which one does not belong. For example: dolphin, shark, whale and seal. For every unique exception the students can find they earn a point. For example, a shark is the only fish on this list. A seal is the only animal on this list that can function on land.


This simple "for and against" game is great for practicing vocabulary used in debates and arguments. The teacher presents a list of issues in class and each student must decide if he is for or against the issue and why. Defending their opinions in class gives students a good chance to practice rare words, while also communicating at a higher level.

Introduction Game

This game works well for a first ESL class because it helps students get to know each other. The teacher gets the discussions started by asking questions such as: What do you do in your spare time? What kind of music do you like? Who is your favourite actor? Another option is to ask students to go around the room, ask these questions of other students and write down anything they have in common with another student.

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