ESL Board Games for Kids

Written by maggie mccormick
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ESL Board Games for Kids
Turn any board game into an ESL board game. (wooden game image by Alison Bowden from

Board games offer ESL teachers a way to reinforce the knowledge that students gain in classes. Students can use ESL board games to learn vocabulary words or to practice grammatical structures. Board games work best in small classes. If your class is large, you can either divide the students up to play individual board games or divide the class into teams to compete against each other.


Bingo is an appropriate game to play with ESL students because it can work with any age and skill level. You can play the traditional version of bingo using numbers, or you can purchase special bingo boards that use letters or words in place of the numbers. At, you can print out bingo cards with pictures that relate to your current instructional unit.

Scrabble junior

In Scrabble, players take a certain number of tiles and then use those tiles to create words. This may be too difficult for new learners and young students, so Scrabble junior may be a better solution for them. There are pre-printed words on one side of the board, and students are allowed to place two letters at a time to create words. Whoever finishes the word gets the point. The other side of the board is blank, which allows more advanced students to make their own words.

Word Up

Word Up is a board game that was specifically created with ESL students in mind. Players take turns rolling the dice and moving on the board. Each space on the board has different English challenges that the student must meet, such as fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions.

Printable ESL Board Games

Many sites that offer resources for ESL teachers also include printable board games. These look like traditional board games, in which players roll a dice and move from space to space, but each game specifically focuses on the unit that you're teaching. For example, you could print a game on using present tense that features pictures of people doing the action.

Any Board Game

A game doesn't have to be specifically designed for ESL students or deal with vocabulary in order to use in your ESL classes. You can easily adapt any board game for use in an ESL classroom by asking students to answer an ESL question before taking their turn. Traditional kids' games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders work well for this.

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