ESL Describing Games

Describe it

ESL Describing Game - Listening and Speaking - Elementary and above - 15 minutes

This ESL describing game can be used to help students revise categories of words or vocabulary you have been teaching in class. Divide the students into pairs (A and B). Give each pair a pen and a piece of paper. Have all Student As sit facing away from the board. Write five to ten words on the board that you want the students to practice or revise. For example, if you wanted to revise sports, you might write: tennis, football, cycling, badminton, volleyball, etc. Student B then describes the first word on the board to Student A without saying the word and speaking only in English, e.g. 'People play this sport on a court. They use a racket and ball to play. This sport is usually played between two people'. Student A listens and then writes down the word they think it is and shows it to Student B. Student A is not allowed to speak during the game. If the word is correct, Student B moves onto describe the second word on the board and so on. If it's wrong, Student B continues with their definition until their partner is able to guess the word. The first pair of students to finish wins the round and scores a point. The students then swap roles and a new set of words is written on the board and so on. The pair with the most points at the end of the game wins.       
 

Describing Dodgeball

ESL Describing Game - Listening and Speaking - Elementary and above - 20 minutes

This fun describing game is a variation of dodgeball and can be used to help students practice describing appearance, clothing and personality. Clear a space in the classroom, so there is room to run from one side of the room to the other. Have all the students stand at one end of the room. Choose one student to be the ball thrower and have that student stand to the side with the ball. The student with the ball starts describing another student in the class, e.g. 'This student is wearing white trainers. This student has short brown hair and blue eyes. This student is hard-working'. The students at the end of the classroom listen to the description. When they figure out who is being described, that student runs to the other side of the room. The ball thrower then tries to hit the student with the ball as they run. If the student is hit, they are out of the game and become the new ball thrower. The two students then work together to describe another student in the class. If not, the student is safe and stays at the other side of the classroom. The game continues until there is one student left standing. That student wins the game. Alternatively, you could describe other things by giving each student a flashcard to hold. You could also start as the ball thrower to help demonstrate the game and give everyone a chance to play.
 

Details

ESL Describing Game - Writing - Elementary and above - 25 minutes

This describing game is a great way to incorporate videos into your lesson. Divide the students into teams of three or four. Give each team a pen and piece of paper. Tell the students that they are going to watch a short video clip and write down as many descriptions as they can from what they see in the video. For each suitable adjective-noun combination the students write down, they score one point, e.g. sports car. For each complete sentence describing part of the video, students score five points, e.g. 'The man in the red sports car is driving fast'. At the end of the video, go through each team's answers. The team with the most points wins the game. This game can also be used to practice verbs, prepositions, etc.
 

Felix the Cat

ESL Describing Game - Speaking - Elementary - 20 minutes

Here is a simple describing game to help students practice adjectives of appearance and personality. Draw or copy a picture of a cat on the board. Above the picture, write 'Felix the Cat'. Then, write on the board: Felix the cat is an awesome cat. Next, write the letters of the alphabet down the board. Tell the students that they are going to take it in turns to think of other adjectives to describe Felix using the letters on the board. Students then take it in turns to come up with a new sentence to describe Felix, e.g. 'Felix the cat is a bad cat'. 'Felix the cat is a crazy cat', etc. For each appropriate sentence, students score a point. As each student says a new adjective, write it on the board. You could also have the students write the sentences themselves. The game continues until no one can think of an adjective. The student with the most points wins the game.
 

Hot Seats

ESL Describing Game - Listening and Speaking - Elementary and above - 20 minutes

This is one of the most popular describing games for teachers to play with their students to practice or revise vocabulary. Divide the students into two teams (A and B). Place two chairs at the front of the class facing away from the board. Choose one player from each team to come and sit on one of the chairs. These chairs are the 'Hot Seats'. Write a word you want the students to revise on the board. The team members then describe the word to their player in the hot seat using definitions, synonyms, etc. Team members can describe the word however they like, but they are not allowed to say the word, variations of the word, the beginning letter or use their native language. The two players listen to their teammates and try to guess the word. The first player to say the word scores a point for their team and changes places with someone else from their team. The other player has to stay in the hot seat until he or she is first to answer correctly. A new word is then written on the board and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Swat

ESL Describing Game - Listening and Matching - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a lively describing game for ESL students. Write words you want the students to revise randomly on the board. Divide the students into two teams (A and B) and give each team member a number. Have each team line up at the back of the room and give each team a fly swatter. Make sure that the students have a clear runway to the board. Give a description of one of the words on the board, e.g. 'It's something you sit on'. Then, call out a number. The two students with that number run to the board with their fly swatter to find the word that matches the description (e.g. chair). The first student to swat the correct word scores a point for their team. Then, another description is given and so on. The game continues until all the words have been used. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
 

Teammates

ESL Describing Game - Reading, Writing and Listening - Elementary and above - 20 minutes

In this ESL describing game, students write descriptions of a classmate's appearance and personality. Divide the students into teams of five or six. Put students who look similar in the same team. Give each team a piece of paper and a pen. Tell the teams to secretly choose a student from their team to describe. Explain that the teams should start by describing the student's physical appearance and then move onto write about the student's personality and character. Depending on the level of your class, you can ask the students to write down adjectives or complete sentences. When the teams have finished writing, ask them to read out their descriptions in turn. When a team has finished reading out a description, have the other teams guess who is being described. The answer is then revealed and any team that guessed correctly scores a point. Play several rounds with teams describing a different teammate each time. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Ten Words

ESL Describing Game - Writing, Listening and Speaking - Elementary and above - 25 minutes

This engaging describing game is ideal for reviewing vocabulary students have recently learnt in class. Give each student ten small slips of paper. Ask the students to secretly write down one word on each slip. Tell the students that the words must be vocabulary they have recently learnt in class. If the students are having difficulty thinking of vocabulary, have them go through their course book to find suitable words. When the students have finished writing, collect in the word slips and put them in a bag. Next, divide the students into two teams (A and B). One student from each team comes to the front of the class. Have one of the students pick a slip from the bag. The two students then read the word on the slip and race to describe the word to their teammates. The two students can describe the word however they like, e.g. using synonyms, adjectives, actions, drawings, etc. However, the students are not allowed to say the word or the beginning letter of the word and they are not allowed to write anything. The first team to correctly guess the word scores a point. Two other students then come to the front of the class and so on. Continue the game until the students have reviewed enough vocabulary. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.     
 
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