ESL Pronoun Games

Written by jack stone
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Success in an English as a second language (ESL) classroom requires concentration, focus and discipline. However, occasional games can ease the workload and allow students to relax. The best games in the ESL classroom are those that actively teach an important grammar rule, such as pronoun usage.

Fill in the Sentence

One of the challenges in learning English is correctly pairing a pronoun and verb in everyday conversation. This game, suggested by Bill Brasky on, provides practice in the basics of pronoun/verb agreement, letting students run through potential pronoun options in a fast-paced environment to come up with an appropriate answer. Play this with middle to upper elementary students.

Bring two students to the front of the room, and have them face the class. Behind them, write a sentence on the board, omitting the pronoun. Use sentences like, "__ are going to the store," " want to meet with you" or "__ shared the cookies." Then, have the students turn around and try to quickly fill in a pronoun to match the sentence. The first player to correctly think of a pronoun wins. To vary the game, write the pronoun and omit the verb; beneath the space where the verb will go, write the infinitive form, such as "to go" or "to share."

Digital Camera Pronoun Hunt

For an interactive game with older students, play a digital camera scavenger hunt where students take pictures of activities involving pronouns, letting them learn the nuances of syntax and pronouns. Viewing other teams' pictures helps students learn more about using and interpreting pronouns.

Compile a list of one-sentence activities containing different pronouns, such as, "I wrote a letter," "They danced in a circle around him," "She started to go into the men's bathroom" or "We sat on top of his shoes." Divide the class into groups, giving each group a copy of the list and a digital camera to take pictures of people doing the activities listed. However, the pronoun must be very clear in the picture. For instance, if "I," "we" or "us" is used, the person taking the picture must engage in the activity. Set a time limit and tell students where they can go to take pictures. After everyone returns, show the pictures to the class. If desired, award points for the best demonstration of each sentence.

Memory with Pronouns

For younger, beginning students, practice pronouns with a simple version of Memory. While this game promotes memory skills, it also forces students to think proactively about possible pronoun connections. Instead of passively waiting for a match they recognise, students must try to think of the potential options in advance.

On index cards, write two first-person pronouns ("I," "me"), two second-person pronouns ("you," "you") and two third-person pronouns ("he," "they"). Give the cards to students, who must put the cards facedown before flipping them over, two at a time, looking for a match. For a more challenging game, match pairs of pronoun-verb combinations.

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