ESL Listening Games

English Whispers

ESL Listening Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

This is an adapted version of the classic listening game Chinese Whispers. You can use this game to practice a variety of language points or vocabulary. Divide the students into equal teams and have each team sit in a row facing the board. Give the student sat at the back of each row a written conversation. The students at the back whisper the first sentence of their conversation to the student in front of them. That student whispers the sentence to the next student and so on down the line. When the sentence reaches the person at the front, that student stands up and writes the sentence on the board. If the sentence is incorrect, it is whispered down the line again. It's up to the students at the back when to whisper the next sentence. They can say each sentence quickly or wait until the sentence has been written on the board. The game continues until one team has written all the sentences of the conversation on the board correctly. That team wins the game. For young learners, use individual words rather than sentences.
 

Its not Musical Chairs

ESL Listening Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary and Above - 20 minutes

For this listening game, you will need an audio conversation, script and some listening comprehension questions. The conversation can come from the course book you use in class. You may wish to use one long conversation or several short ones. The game is similar to musical chairs. Organize the chairs into a circle. There should be one less chair than there are students in the class. To begin the game, ask the students a listening comprehension question based on the audio conversation you have prepared. Then, start playing the audio conversation. The students walk around the circle of chairs listening to the conversation. When a student hears the answer to the question, they sit down. There may be one or several students who sit down. At this point, pause the audio. If it is just one student who sits down, ask them for the answer to the question. If it is a few students who sit down, ask them to whisper the answer to you individually. If a student's answer is correct, they remain seated. If not, they stand back up. Next, ask another question that can be answered in the next part of the audio conversation. The students who have remained standing start walking around the chairs again until they hear the answer to your new question on the audio. Carry on like this until there is one student left standing. That student is out of the game. Remove a chair from the circle. Everyone stands up and the game continues until there are only two students competing for one chair to become the ultimate winner.
 

Odd One Out

ESL Listening Game - Listening Activity - Young Learners - 10 minutes

You can use this fun listening game to practice a variety of vocabulary. Ask the students to stand in a circle. Explain to the students that you are going to say lexical sets of words. If they hear a word that does not belong to that set, they must stop what they are doing. Ask all the students to do an animal action, e.g. hop like a frog, dance like a monkey, jump like a kangaroo, etc. As the students are doing the action, they listen to you call out sets of words, e.g. run, speak, hear, read, look, banana. When the students hear a word that doesn't belong to the set, they stop doing the action, e.g. when the students hear the word 'banana'. The last person to stop is out of the game. If a student stops on the wrong word, they are also out of the game. Repeat with different lexical sets, e.g. nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc. The last student left standing wins the game. It is a good idea to play an example round with the students before they begin the game. To make the game harder, you can use similar sounding words. You could also ask the students why the word doesn't belong to the lexical set when everyone has stopped, e.g. 'A banana is a fruit. The other words are verbs.'
 

Sticky Fingers

ESL Listening Game - Listening Activity - Young Learners - 15 minutes

This engaging ESL listening game works really well with young learners. You play this game with three students at a time. Choose three students to play first. Clear a runway to the far wall of the classroom. Outstretch your arm. Each student then grabs one of your fingers. Assign the students with a special keyword, e.g. take. Tell the students that if they hear that word, they should let go of your finger and run to the wall. Start saying words, some words should have a similar sound to the keyword, e.g. took, tickle, bake, cake, etc. If a student lets go, when you haven't said the keyword, e.g. if the keyword is 'take' and the student runs when you say 'cake', they are out. If you say the keyword, the students let go of your finger and run to the far wall. Your task is to tag out the students before they get to the wall. If you do this, they are out. Repeat until only one student is left. Then, start a new round with three more students. When everyone has had a go, play again with the winners of each round until you find the ultimate champion.
 

Throw a Question

ESL Listening Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Young Learners - 15 minutes

Here is a useful listening game to practice or review question and answer structures. Before you begin, pre-teach or review the question and answer structures with the class. Next, have the students stand in a circle. Tell the students that they are going to practice the questions and answers they just studied in class. Throw the ball to a student. When the student catches the ball, ask him or her a question, e.g. 'Can you swim?' The student who catches the ball must answer the question appropriately, e.g. 'Yes, I can.' Then, the student throws the ball to another student and asks them a similar question (e.g. Can you ride a bicycle?), and so on. If a student says a grammatically incorrect question or answer, they are out of the game. When this happens, restart the game with a new question. The last two students left in the game win. You could also have the students repeat the same question, e.g. 'How old are you?' This game helps students with their listening skills as they never know who will be next. Therefore, they have to pay attention and listen to each question.
 
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