Games to teach grammar to efl/esl students

Written by teresa dashwood
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Games to teach grammar to efl/esl students
Charades is one grammar game for EFL/ESL students. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

English grammar can present a hurdle for many ESL/EFL students. The terminology and rules appear difficult and arbitrary. Yet, as language learners navigate the guidelines, they can also relax and review grammar through games. Using games gives language learners alternative methods to process and acquire grammar and leads to success in language activities.

Grammar Spelling Bees

The traditional spelling bee adapts to include grammar games for EFL/ESL learners. Beginning language learning can spell basic terms such as "noun" and "verb." They can benefit from spelling the singular and plural pronouns during a spelling bee. As learners begin the present and past tense verb forms, spelling bees review the differences between regular and irregular verb forms and pronunciations. Advanced students can tackle the spelling of past participle verb forms, displaying their understanding of grammar constructions such as "sink," "sank" and "sunk." Spelling out grammar terms such as "adjective" and "adverb" creates a link with the grammatical concept.


Charades gives language learners a way to put their grammar knowledge into action. One version is to write a list or series of cards with actionable verbs. Language learners take turns acting out the verb while the others call out the action verb. This activity can apply to all levels of learners. Charades can also facilitate learning prepositions of place. Language learners can act out walking "to" a desk and walking "from" a desk. Learners can work in teams for a cooperative learning environment.

ESL Hangman

The "Hangman" game adapts to all levels of EFL/ESL students. Beginning students can play with basic nouns, verbs and prepositions. Later, they can work on guessing simple present, present progressive and simple past verbs. Intermediate students can review the simple tenses and move into the present, past and future perfect. Make guessing the spelling of past participles competitive by dividing the students into teams. Advanced language learners can tackle metacognitive terms -- words that relate to language, such as "clause," "phrase" and "participle." Online games such as the Present Perfect Hangman Game (at add a technological aspect to the language task.

Online Games

Online grammar games of all kinds contribute to teaching EFL/ESL students. Beginners can use games with familiar images, such as "Frog Verbs." In this game, language learners see a present-tense verb, click on the lily pad with the correct past tense and then move to the next lily pad. in "Snakes and Ladders," the language learner fills in the correct form of the verb for another chance to roll the dice. In the "Walk the Plank Present vs. Past Tenses" game, learners can select the correct verb form and make their teacher "walk the plank."

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