ESL TV Game Shows
Age/Level: Elementary and above Time: 25 minutes Players: 2 equal teams Preparation: A list of sentences
Aim: To write down the same word as another student
This is an excellent ESL TV game show for practicing parts of speech and sentence structure.
Separate the class into two equal teams.
Give each student several small pieces of paper and a pen.
Have one player from each team come up and sit at the front of the class.
Read a sentence to the class, e.g. It was so hot yesterday my BLANK melted. Use the word 'blank' as the missing word in the sentence.
The aim of the game is for each team member to write down the same 'blank' word as their teammate at the front of the class.
Everyone then secretly writes down their missing word. They do this without talking or communicating.
Then, ask each player at the front to reveal their word.
After that, each teammate in turn says or shows the word they wrote.
For every word that matches with their player at the front of the class, the teams get a point.
Repeat with different players.
1. It was so hot yesterday my ________ melted.
2. My brother never ________ with me.
3. I haven't ________ for a long time.
4. I always go ________ after class.
5. I'm so hungry, I could eat a ________.
6. I like ________ before I go to school.
7. I saw a ________ man on the bus.
8. Last night, I ________.
9. (Student's name) has a small ________.
10. He was so drunk, he ________.
Age/Level: Elementary and above Time: 25 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: A copy of the words and clues
Aim: To guess the word from a clue given by the teacher
This ESL vocabulary game is originally from an English game show. It works well for revising vocabulary. It can also be used as a general knowledge quiz.
Draw a 5 x 5 hexagon grid on the board (example in the PDF).
Write a different letter of the alphabet in each hexagonal space.
Split the class into two teams and allocate each team with a different colour, e.g. red and blue.
The two teams then decide which direction they want to play: top to bottom or left to right.
Start with the center letter, e.g. if the letter was B, the clue might be: A person who bakes bread.
The two teams then race to answer the clue.
The first team to answer correctly wins the hexagon and has their colour (red or blue) put into the space. That team then chooses the next letter.
Give a clue for the next letter. Both teams then race to answer.
The aim of the game is for one team to connect the hexagons from top to bottom or left to right. The first team to make the connection is the winner.
Remind the students that this is a fairly strategic game and they need to choose their moves carefully.
Age/Level: Any Time: 25 minutes Players: Small teams Preparation: Countdown music
Aim: To come up with the longest word possible using nine letters
This engaging ESL word game is adapted from a famous TV game show.
Divide the class into small teams and give each team a number.
The first team has to choose nine letters by saying either 'vowel' or 'consonant'.
Each time the team says vowel or consonant, you write a random letter corresponding to the team's choice.
Alternatively, you could have a set of letter cards that you stick on the board.
When nine letters are on the board, the teams have one to two minutes (depending on their level) to come up with the longest word possible using the nine letters. Each letter can only be used once.
While the teams are writing, play some music that lasts as long as their time limit. There is a countdown TV theme song. I use a combination of the theme song and Public Enemies - Final Countdown of the Collision.
When the time limit has been reached, ask each team how many letters are in their word.
The team with the longest word gives their answer.
If the word has the correct letters and spelling, that team wins the same amount of points as there are letters in the word, e.g. a six-letter word wins six points.
Then, another round starts and the second team chooses vowels and consonants, and so on, until every team has had a chance to choose letters.
The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
You can play a follow-up round for this vocabulary game by showing the students anagrams. Whichever team guesses the word correctly first wins extra points. The anagrams can be from vocabulary the students have studied in previous lessons.
Age/Level: Any Time: 25 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: A copy of the survey results
Aim: To guess the top 5 answers in a survey
This fun ESL quiz game is adapted from a famous TV game show of the same name. Before you play, you will need a copy of the survey results of 100 people (see PDF).
Divide the class into two teams and have each team choose a family name.
The aim of the game is for a family to guess the top five answers to a survey.
Each round begins with one member from each team coming to the front of the classroom and trying to guess a top five answer to a survey question.
The first student to answer correctly (with a top five answer) can choose for their team to play or pass. Teams may choose to be strategic and pass to the other team as sometimes the top five answers may be hard to guess.
Then, ask each (playing) team member in turn for their top five answer.
After each guess, write on the board as follows:
If the answer is in the top five, write the answer next to the appropriate number (1 to 5).
If the answer is not in the top five, the team loses a life. Draw a big X and say the phrase "Uh-uhh."
If the playing team loses three lives, the other team is given a chance to steal the round by coming up with one of the missing top five answers.
If they answer correctly, they win the round and get 100 points. If not, the team that had given the three incorrect answers wins points, depending on how many top five answers they got right (20 points for each answer).
Then, repeat the game with a new survey question.
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: None
Aim: To guess a word through logical deduction
This ESL word game is based on the TV game show 'Mastermind'.
Begin the game by selecting a secret word, e.g. Hospital.
Draw eight lines or dashes on the board representing the letters in the word 'hospital'.
Split the students into two teams.
The first team to play tries to guess the word by choosing an eight-letter word.
For example, they might choose elephant.
There are two ways to score each letter in their word.
Cross = right letter, wrong place
Tick = right letter, right place
Put the crosses or ticks under the letters.
The other team uses this information to make another guess.
Continue until one team guesses the word.
The team to guess the word first wins one point.
Repeat the process with a new word and so on.
They will be able to guess the word by logical deduction after a few goes.
The length of the word depends on the level of your students. With higher-level students you can use long words. Four or five letter words can be used with children.
Strike it Lucky
Age/Level: Elementary and above Time: 25 minutes Players: 3 to 4 teams Preparation: A list of revision questions and teacher’s game grids.
Aim: To answer revision questions
This fun ESL TV game show is perfect for asking revision questions.
Divide the class into three or four teams, depending on your class size.
Copy the following grid onto the board:
Hidden throughout the 30 squares are 10 arrows. Arrows represent a free move. Another 10 squares are Hot Spots. The final 10 are questions.
The aim of the game is for each team to get from one side of the board to the other without hitting more than three Hot Spots. If you want to make the game easier or harder, just decrease or increase the number of Hot Spots.
The first team to play chooses the top, middle or bottom square in column 1. The teacher checks to see what goes in that square.
If it’s an arrow, the team moves forward to column 2 and chooses another top, middle or bottom square.
If it’s a question, the team elects one team member to answer. A different student must answer each time.
The teacher asks the student a question. This could be a revision question or a question based on a flashcard, etc.
If the student gets the answer right, the team moves forward. If the student gets it wrong, the square changes to a Hot Spot. This is counted as one of the three Hot Spots.
If a team picks a square and it’s a Hot Spot, the team moves forward, but if the total number of Hot Spots gets to more than three, they lose the game.
If a team gets to the other side the board without hitting more than three Hot Spots, they win the round.
Each team plays in turn. Teams who get to the end can move on to the next round.
Eventually, there will be one winning team. The winning team can then play a bonus round for a prize, e.g. sweets or cookies.
Please see the PDF for an example copy of the teacher's game grid.
The Price is Right
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: Teams of 5 or 6 Preparation: Pictures and prices of different products
Aim: To accurately guess the price of a product
This ESL shopping game has been adapted from a famous TV game show. This game can be used when teaching shopping and prices.
Before the game starts you may wish to revise expressions for buying things and large numbers with the class. Also, prepare pictures of different products along with their prices.
Divide the class into teams of five or six.
Show the teams a picture of one of the products.
The objective of the game is for the teams to guess the actual price of the product.
Each team bids one at a time. The team that bids closest to the actual price wins.
Each bid has to be different. However, a team is out of the round if they bid over the actual price.
When every team has given a bid, give the actual price of the product.
The winning team gets the amount of points they bid.
Repeat the game with a different product and so on.
A different team should go first each time as it is advantageous to go last in this game. Try to vary the products you have in this game from basic everyday items to luxury goods.
The Weakest Link
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: Pairs Preparation: A list of questions
Aim: To answer general knowledge or review questions
This ESL TV game show is great for asking revision questions.
Split the class into pairs. Give each pair a number. Try to put a strong student with a weaker one.
Ask the first pair a question. They discuss the question and then tell you their answer.
If they are correct, add 10 points to a group pot.
Move on to the next pair. If they answer correctly, add 20 points to the pot.
The next pair would play for 30 points, and so on.
However, if a pair answers incorrectly, all the points scored by the pairs before them are removed from the pot.
Before a pair of students has their go, they can choose to bank the points on the board first. If they bank the points, they can only answer for 10 points.
The aim is for the pairs to make as many points as possible for the pot.
After each pair of students has answered two questions, get the pairs to vote off the weakest link (pair).
Then continue the game and after each round the weakest link is voted off.
The last two pairs of students left in the game are the winners.
Wheel of Fortune
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: 2 Teams Preparation: None
Aim: To guess a word or phrase from letters that are gradually added
This game is adapted from a TV game show of the same name. However, there is no wheel in this version.
Split the class into two teams (A and B).
As in Hangman, think of a word or phrase and write a blank space for each letter on the board.
Consonants can be guessed, but vowels have to be bought using points earned by correctly guessing consonants.
Team A starts by guessing a consonant. If the consonant is not found in the word or phrase, play passes to Team B.
If the consonant is in the word, Team A gets one point for every occurrence of the letter.
Team A can then buy one vowel for every point they have.
If the vowel is not in the word, play passes to Team B. Team A keeps any remaining points for their next turn.
If the vowel is in the word, Team A can buy another vowel (if they have any points) or guess another consonant. Vowels do not earn points.
The first team to guess the whole word or phrase wins.
If a team guesses the wrong word or phrase, they lose any points they have and miss a turn.
Play a few rounds to see which team is the overall winner.