ESL Spelling Games
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: Equal Teams Preparation: None
Aim: To spell words
This entertaining ESL spelling game is handy for revising recently studied vocabulary.
Arrange the class into teams of equal size.
Have the teams sit down in rows facing the board.
The student at the front of each row needs to have a pencil and a piece of paper.
There are two actions that the students need to know before playing the game.
Tapping the shoulder means repeat the spelling.
Nodding the head means okay continue.
Show a different word with the same amount of letters to the last student at the end of each row.
The student at the back of each row needs to draw the word, letter by letter onto the back of the person in front of them.
First, the student draws the T. If the student in front of them knows the letter, they nod their head. If they are unsure of the letter, they tap their shoulder so the student can re-write the letter on their back. This continues until the word is complete. Then, the next student draws the word onto the back of the person in front of them.
When it reaches the person at the front of the line, they write the word on the paper.
The first team to spell the word correctly wins a point.
The front student then moves to the back and everyone moves up one space.
Then, the game continues with a new word.
For higher-level students, get them to write a complete sentence.
Blind Speed Spell
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: 2 to 4 Teams Preparation: Blindfolds
Aim: To spell revision words
Here is a simple team game for practicing spelling. Before class, prepare 2 to 4 blindfolds depending on the number of teams.
Split the students into 2 to 4 teams depending on the class size.
Have the first player from each team come to the board.
Give each player a chalk or marker and tell them to put on their blindfold.
Say a word you wish the players to write. The players then race to write the word as quickly as they can on the board.
The first player to spell the word correctly wins a point for their team.
If you have more than two teams, you can score each team as follows: the first team (3 points), the second team (2 points) and third team (1 point).
New players then come to the board and the game continues with a new word.
Play until everyone has had a go.
For higher-level students, you can give the players sentences to write.
If you want to make the game more amusing, you can have the players start further away from the board and have some students spin the players around a few times. Their teammates can then direct them to the board by shouting directions.
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: 2 pairs of chopsticks and 2 sets of letter cards
Aim: To practice spelling
Here is an entertaining game to practice or revise spelling and vocabulary.
Position two desks at the front of the class and place a pair of chopsticks on each desk.
Spread out two sets of letter cards on the floor.
Divide the students into two teams.
Allocate a desk and set of cards to each team.
Call out a word for the two teams to spell.
One player from each team stands up and runs to their assigned desk, picks up the pair of chopsticks, runs to their set of cards, and tries to pick up the first letter of the word with the pair of chopsticks.
Once a player has managed to pick up a card, they place the letter card face up on the desk using the chopsticks, and run back to their seat.
As soon as a player has sat down, another member of the teams stands up and repeats the process with the second letter of the word.
The first team to place all the letters of the word on the desk in order wins the round and receives one point.
Then a new word is called out for the teams to spell and so on.
The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Age/Level: Young learners Time: 20 minutes Players: 3 Teams Preparation: None
Aim: To write word beginning with and containing certain letters
This spelling game is great for young learners. It's a useful game for checking spelling.
Draw three flowers on the board. The flowers should have six petals each.
Write a letter in the centre of each flower and write one letter on each petal of the flower. The three flowers should have different letters.
Split the students into three teams and hand each team a marker.
Have each team stand in a line away from the board.
The first player from each team runs to the board and writes a word beginning with the centre letter and containing a letter from one of the petals.
The player then runs back to their team and the next student goes.
The game continues until one team has completed all the petals.
Teams score one point for every letter in a correctly spelled word.
Repeat a few times, and then add up the scores to find the winning team.
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: A list of revision words
Aim: To put letters in the correct order to spell a word
This is a fun ESL spelling game for students of all ages. Before you start the spelling game, prepare a list of words you wish to revise and then mix up all the letters in each word.
Arrange the class into two teams.
A player from each team comes to the board. Give each player a marker or chalk.
Read out a jumbled word, depending on their level you could read or spell the word.
The players write the jumbled word on the board.
The first player to put the letters into the correct order to spell the word wins a point.
Repeat with new players and words, and so on.
Spell or Draw
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: None
Aim: To spell or draw specific words
Students will like playing this fun spelling game. This game may be used to review vocabulary or spelling.
Separate the class into two teams.
Assign each team member a number.
Call out a number. The two students with that number run to the board.
Ask the two students if they want to spell or draw.
Once they have chosen, give them the word.
The first student to successfully spell or draw the word wins a point for their team.
The team with the highest number of points at the end is the winner.
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: None
Aim: To spell recently studied words
Here is a great Tic-Tac-Toe style spelling game to practice vocabulary.
Split the class into two teams.
Draw a 3 x 3 Tic-Tac-Toe grid on the board and write a different letter in each square.
Play a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to see which team will play first.
The winning team chooses a letter from the grid.
Give the team a word to spell that begins with the chosen letter.
The team gets 15 seconds to spell the word. If they spell the word correctly, they win that square and mark it with an O or X symbol.
Teams take it in turns to play.
When a team gets three in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally, they win the round. If there is a tie, the team with the most squares wins the round.
The winning team is given one point per round.
At the end of each round, write new letters in the grid. Remember to keep track of the letters and words you have used.
Age/Level: Any Time: 25 minutes Players: Individual Preparation: None
Aim: To practice spelling
This is a fun elimination spelling game that takes very little preparation.
On the board, draw an elimination chart (see PDF).
Start off by giving each student a slip of paper. Ask the students to write their name on the paper and then hand it back.
Draw the names out of an envelope and write them in the chart.
Each student competes against the classmate they are paired with in the chart.
The students come up to the board in their pairs.
The two students stand next to the board with a marker or chalk.
Call out a word for them to spell.
The first student to spell the word correctly moves on to the next round.
Continue until there is one ultimate winner.
That student is named the class spelling champion until the next time you decide to play.
Age/Level: Young learners Time: 15 minutes Players: 2 teams Preparation: Pictures of vocabulary
Aim: To identify and spell a word from a picture
This is a great spelling game to play with large classes. It works well with young learners.
Begin the spelling game by separating the class into two teams.
Have each team stand up and form a line in front of the board.
Hold up a card with a picture on it and ask the teams to spell the word.
The first student in each team runs to the board and writes the first letter of the word.
They run back to their team and tag the next person, who runs to the board, and writes the next letter and so on.
The first team to spell the word correctly wins a point.
Teammates can help the writer by shouting out the correct letter or by writing the letter in the air.
The Spelling Game
Age/Level: Any Time: 20 minutes Players: Equal teams Preparation: None
Aim: To practice spelling
Here is a highly amusing spelling game. It is great for revising spelling and vocabulary.
Divide the students into equal teams. Have the teams sit in rows and give each team a number.
Give the class a word to spell.
Teams then take it in turns to attempt to spell the word.
The student at the front of each team always starts with the first letter of the word. The next student in the team says the following letter, and so on, down the line until the word is complete.
If it is a long word and the spelling has reached the last student, the spelling goes back to the player at the front and so on.
The students are not allowed to help each other or write anything down.
Each student must be focused on the spelling of the word and his or her position in the team for the team to spell the word correctly.
If a team spells the word correctly, they receive one point.
Then, a new word is given.
However, if a player is too slow, is not paying attention or says the wrong letter. Immediately go to the next team.
The game may sound easy, but even the most basic word may take a few attempts before it is spelled correctly. This is because all the students must concentrate and know the correct spelling of the word.
Up the Ladder
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: 4 teams Preparation: None
Aim: To spell words in a category
This entertaining spelling game is a must for every English teacher. This game is perfect for revising spelling and categories of words.
Divide the class into four teams.
Ask the students if they know the word 'ladder' and then draw one on the board.
Tell the students that they are going to play a spelling game and race each other to the top of the ladder. The first team to get to the top is the winner.
On every rung of the ladder, the students must write a word. The last letter of each word must be the first letter on the next rung.
The race is played as a relay, so after a student writes a word, they run back and give the pen to the next person in their team.
Teammates can help by shouting out, but they cannot crowd around the board.
Draw four ladders on the board. Each ladder should have five or six rungs.
Choose a category, e.g. jobs. Ask each team to give you the name of a job. This will be their starting word. Each team should start with a different word.
Then, the game begins and the teams start writing on their ladders.
All the words in the ladder must be from the chosen category and must be spelled correctly. The first team to get to the top of the ladder wins.
Then, choose a different category and so on.
Age/Level: Young learners Time: 10 minutes Players: Individual Preparation: None
Aim: To think of a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word
This is a quick ESL spelling game. It's very simple to set up and play.
Have all the students stand up.
One student begins by saying a word in English.
The student next to them must then say a word that begins with the last letter of the previous word.
The next student follows suit and so on.
The game starts over when a student answers incorrectly, repeats a word, or when they can't think of a word. That student is then out and has to sit down.
The last student left standing is the winner.
World Cup Spelling
Age/Level: Any Time: 15 minutes Players: 2 Teams Preparation: A soft ball
Aim: To spell words by adding letters
Here is a fast-paced spelling game that is influenced by the game of football.
Before you play, you will need a soft ball to act as an imaginary football.
Divide the class into two teams.
Play rock-paper-scissors to see which team will kick off.
Give the ball to the first player in the starting team.
The first player starts the game by saying a letter, e.g. S.
The first player then passes the ball to another teammate. This player has 3 seconds to say another letter to try to form a word, e.g. E.
The ball is then passed to a third player who adds another letter, e.g. N, and so on, until a word is formed.
If the team manages to make a word, the last player scores a goal, e.g. D.
If a player drops the ball or says a letter which cannot go on to form a word, the team loses its turn, and the other team takes the ball.
The other team then has a chance to score a goal from the letters already formed or they can start a new word.
Award one point for each goal or you can award points depending on the length of the word, e.g. send = 4 points.
When a team scores a goal, the other team starts out with the ball.
The team with the highest score at the end wins.