Monday, 23 April 2018

ESL Grammar Games

Battle Tanks

Age/Level: Any     Time: 25 minutes     Players: 4 students per game      Preparation: Two blindfolds and two soft balls

Aim: To practice prepositions of movement and giving directions

This grammar game is ideal for teaching or revising directions and prepositions of movement.


Clear away the desks so you have space to play the game.

Choose four students to play first.

Split the four students into two teams.

In each team, one player is the 'tank' and one player is the 'driver'.

Blindfold the two players who are the tank.

Then place two soft balls on the floor somewhere in the room.

The two tanks then stand at opposite ends of the room.

The drivers have to guide their tank to a ball by giving directions, e.g. go straight, turn right, etc.

When a tank is guided to a ball, that tank has ammunition.

The driver then guides the tank to fire on the other tank.

When one tank is hit by a ball, they are out and the other team wins.

Repeat with the next four students and so on.

When everyone has played, the winning teams can play against each other to find the ultimate champion.

Battle Tanks.PDF



Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 25 minutes      Players: 2 teams     Preparation: A list of 10 to 15 sentences that contain grammar mistakes

Aim: To identify grammar mistakes

This useful grammar game can be prepared very quickly. It's a good game to play with small classes.


Separate the class into two teams (A and B).

Write 10 to 15 sentences on the board and tell the class that each one contains a mistake. The sentences should be graded according to the level of the class and concentrate on points of grammar and vocabulary that the students have studied recently. Alternatively, you could focus on typical mistakes your students make.

Tell the teams to read the sentences and look for the mistakes as you are writing them on the board.

Explain that each team starts with 100 points.

Team A starts and chooses a sentence for Team B to correct.

Team B decides how many points they would like to gamble (the more confident they are, the more points they will gamble).

The maximum bet is 50 points as there is a risk that one team could run away with the game very quickly.

Team B then consults and gives their correction. Make sure you impose a time limit for consultation.

If they identify the mistake, add the points to their total. If they don't identify the mistake, they lose the points.

If Team B gives the wrong correction, Team A has a chance to pick up bonus points by correcting the sentence. If they answer correctly, they get the points that Team B would have won.

This means that Team A will be consulting at the same time as Team B, so everyone is focused on the sentence.

It's then the turn of Team B to choose a sentence for Team A to correct and so on.




Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 20 minutes      Players: Individual or small teams       Preparation: Slips of paper

Aim: To review tenses

Here is a fun grammar game to help review tenses.

Before you play, you will need some slips of paper and a pen.


Students can play this game in small groups or individually.

Ask one student to stand up and think of a verb, e.g. sleep.

Once the student has chosen a verb, ask them to write it down on a slip of paper.

The other students have to guess the verb by asking questions in different tenses to the student.

They do this by replacing the verb the student has chosen with the invented verb 'glug'.

Example: Sleep

S2: Have you ever glugged?    S1: Yes, I have.

S3: Do you glug every day?     S1: Yes, I do.

S4: Can you glug in class?       S1: No, you can’t. You're not allowed.

S5: Are you glugging now?      S1: No, I ’m not.

S6: Is it difficult to glug?           S1: No, it isn't.

The students can ask up to 15 questions to try to guess the verb.

The student who guesses the correct verb wins a point and then becomes the next student to choose a verb.



Grammar Auction

Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 25 minutes     Players: Small teams     Preparation: Prepare 15 sentences containing some grammar mistakes

Aim: To revise a specific grammar area or general grammar

Here is a useful game for revising grammar points.

Before class, prepare 15 sentences containing grammar that your students are currently studying or areas of grammar that your students are having problems with. Some of the sentences should be correct and some incorrect.


Write or display the sentences on the board.

Explain that you are going to auction the sentences and that an auction is when you sell something to the person who offers the most money.

Divide the students into small teams.

Explain that each team has $100 and that they need to buy the correct sentences.

In their teams, students discuss which sentences they think are correct and decide which ones to buy and how much they are prepared to pay for each sentence.

Take the role of an auctioneer and sell each sentence to the team who offers the most money.

Keep track of how much each team has spent on the board.

Tell the students that they shouldn’t spend too much money too soon as once they have spent all their money they can’t buy any more sentences.

When all of the sentences have been sold, go through them one at a time, revealing which are correct and which are incorrect.

Ask the students to correct the mistakes.

The team who bought the most correct sentences is the winner. If it’s a draw, then the team with the most money left wins.

Grammar Auction.pdf

Grammar Races 

Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 25 Minutes      Players: 4 teams     Preparation: None

Aim: To write sentences containing a certain word and to identify grammar mistakes

This ESL game is great for reviewing all aspects of grammar. It also helps you to spot problem areas or common mistakes that your students are making.


Separate the class into four teams.

In each team, there is a 'runner' and a 'writer'.

Give each team a number and allocate a space on the board for them to write.

Have the writers stand next to their space by the board.

Give each team a different keyword, e.g. elephant, car, carrot, etc.

Team members must then think up sentences using the keyword.

When a team thinks of a sentence, they tell the runner. The runner then goes to the board and tells the sentence to the writer who writes it on the board.

After a few minutes, stop the round and evaluate the sentences from each team.

Award one to three points for each sentence. Give reasons for the awarded points, e.g. subject-verb agreement, spelling, punctuation, etc.

If you spot a mistake, ask the teams to identify and correct it. The first student to raise their hand and correct the mistake wins the points for his or her team.

Play a few rounds. The team with the highest number of points at the end of the game wins.

Grammar Races.PDF


Just a Minute

Age/Level: Elementary and above     Time: 15 to 25 minutes     Players: Individual     Preparation: For each group of eight, write ‘The speaker is right’ on one piece of A4 paper and ‘The challenger is right’ on another. You will also need ten counters for each student.

Aim: To practice peer correction of spontaneous speech


This grammar game works best with one or two groups as the teacher is involved in the game. You may wish to make the groups bigger or smaller, depending on your class size.

Divide the students into groups of eight. Have each group sit around a table.

Give each group the two pieces of paper and give each student ten counters. You will also need one student in each group to keep the time.

The first student is given a topic to speak about for one minute by the student sitting to their right, e.g. holidays.

The student then starts speaking on the topic.

When anyone in the group hears the speaker make a grammar mistake, they stop the student and tell them they made a mistake.

They do this by pointing out what the speaker said. However, the challenger should not correct the mistake.

Instead, the members of the group vote on who is right by placing one counter on either ‘The speaker is right’ or ‘The challenger is right’ paper.

The teacher then judges who is correct.

If the speaker is correct, he/she takes all the counters on ‘The speaker is right’ paper.

If the challenger is correct, he/she takes all the counters on ‘The challenger is right’ paper.

The teacher withdraws the counters on the other paper from the game.

If the challenger is right, he/she must attempt to correct the speaker’s grammar mistake.

If the challenger does this successfully, they take one more counter from the speaker. If the correction is wrong, the challenger gives the speaker one counter.

The speaker then resumes talking about the topic until the time limit is up.

If there is a second challenge, the speaker stops talking and the next student is given a topic to talk about by the person sitting to their right.

The winner is the student with the most counters after everyone has had a chance to speak. If a student runs out of counters, they are out of the game.   

Just a Minute.PDF


Superlative Crocodile Races

Age/Level: Any     Time: 15 minutes     Players: Teams of equal number    Preparation: Coloured tape

Aim: To perform tasks relating to superlatives

This is an enjoyable ESL game for teaching superlatives.


Divide the class into teams of equal number. The teams should have around 4 to 6 students per team.

Mark out a boat for each team on the floor using coloured tape. Make sure the boats are just long and wide enough for each team to stand in.

Tell the students to stand in their boat.

Explain that they are in crocodile infested waters and if they step out of the boat, they will be eaten.

Next, have the teams perform tasks in their boat using superlatives, e.g. Tallest student at the front.

The teams must subsequently get their players arranged with the tallest student at the front and the shortest student at the back.

The first team to do the task wins a point.

If a student falls out of the boat, that team is out of the round.

Continue with things like, youngest at the front, longest hair at the back, etc.

Superlative Crocodile Races.PDF


The Force Awakens

Age/Level: Any     Time: 25 minutes     Players: 4 teams     Preparation: Two Star Wars masks and inflatable lightsabers or two blindfolds and inflatable hammers.

Aim: To practice prepositions of movement, giving directions and imperatives

This entertaining game is ideal for teaching or revising directions and prepositions of movement.


Before you begin, practice directions and basic prepositions of movement with the class, e.g. right, left, forwards, backwards, up, down, etc.

Clear away the desks so you have space to play the game.

Divide the students into four teams. Ask each team to stand in one corner of the classroom.

Have the teams play ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ to see which two teams will play first.

The two teams decide which side they want to play for, i.e. the Dark Side or Jedi.

A player from each team then puts on an appropriate mask and is given an inflatable lightsaber.

When you say go, the teams shout out which direction they want their character to move, e.g. go straight, go back, turn left, turn right, etc.

When a player is in reach of their opponent, their team shouts "hit," and the player tries to hit their opponent on the head. If the player manages to do this, they win the round.

The winning team stays on for the next round, and one of the other teams takes the loser's mask and lightsaber, and the next round begins.

This process continues until all the teams have played.

The team that wins the most rounds is the winner.

The Force Awakens.PDF


Think of a Word - Comparatives Game

Age/Level: Any     Time: 20 minutes     Players: Small teams     Preparation: Copies of the worksheet

Aim: To practice comparatives

This ESL grammar game is useful for teaching or reviewing comparatives.


Divide the class into small teams and make sure each team has a pen and a worksheet.

Start the game by writing a noun on the board, e.g. piano

Now ask the students to suggest:

Something bigger than a piano, e.g. a bus.

Something smaller than a piano, e.g. a pen.

A verb that goes with piano, e.g. play.

A word that comes earlier in the dictionary than piano, e.g. eat.

A longer word beginning with the same letter, e.g. perfection.

A shorter word beginning with the same letter, e.g. pig.

An adjective to describe a piano, e.g. black.

The opposite of that adjective, e.g. white.

A noun that goes with the two adjectives, e.g. car.

Tell the students they are going to do the same thing in their teams.

The first team to complete all the answers correctly wins a point.

You can start off with fairly easy nouns and work up to nouns that will test the students more.

A team worksheet is provided in the PDF.

Think of a Word.PDF


Verb Races

Age/Level: Beginner     Time: 15 minutes     Players: Teams of equal number     Preparation: None

Aim: To practice verb conjugations

This is a great high-energy grammar game for reviewing verb conjugations.


Divide the class into teams of equal number. The teams should be quite large, but have no more than seven students per team.

Each team sits in a row.

The first student in each row is number one. The second is number two, etc.

Give all number ones a piece of paper.

Pick a verb that they are studying, e.g. run.

All number ones write 'I run', and pass the paper to the student behind them.

The second student writes 'You run', and passes the paper back.

This continues until all the subject pronouns you chose to use and verb forms have been written.

The last student passes the paper to the first student and the first student runs to the board to write all the answers down.

The first team to get their answers on the board in the correct order and correctly conjugated gets a point, e.g. I run, You run, He runs, She runs, They run, etc.

The students then shift places, so student number one moves to spot two and the last student in each row becomes student number one.

Verb Races.PDF


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