ESL TV Game Shows

Blankety Blank

ESL TV Game Show - Listening and Writing Activity - Elementary and Above - 25 minutes

This excellent ESL TV game show helps students to practice parts of speech and sentence structure. Divide the students into two equal teams. Give each student several small pieces of paper. Have one student from each team come up and sit at the front of the class. Read a sentence to the class using the word 'blank' for the missing part of the sentence, e.g. 'It was so hot yesterday my 'blank' melted. The aim of the game is for the team members to complete the sentence in the same way as their teammate at the front of the class. Everyone secretly writes down their missing word or phrase, without talking or communicating. When everyone has written an answer, the team members take it in turns to say or show their word or phrase. The student at the front then reveals their answer. For every matching answer, teams score a point. Two new students then come up to the front and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Blockbusters

ESL TV Game Show - Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary and Above - 25 minutes

This engaging ESL vocabulary game comes from an English TV game show. The game can be used as a general knowledge quiz or to revise vocabulary. Draw a five-by-five hexagon on the board and write a different letter of the alphabet in each hexagon. Divide the class into two teams and allocate each team with a colour, e.g. red and blue. The two teams then decide which direction they want to play - top to bottom or left to right. The aim of the game is to connect the hexagons from one side of the grid to the other. Tell the students that this is a fairly strategic game and they need to choose their moves carefully in order to win the game, blocking the other team when necessary. Start with the center hexagon. Give a clue for the letter in the hexagon, e.g. if the letter was B, the clue might be: A person who bakes bread. The two teams then race to answer, e.g. baker. The first team to answer correctly wins the hexagon and it is coloured accordingly. The winning team then chooses the next hexagon. Give a clue for the letter in that hexagon and both teams race to answer as before. The first team to connect their hexagons from top to bottom or left to right wins the game. A long list of clues is included in the PDF.
 

Countdown

ESL TV Game Show - Writing and Spelling Activity - Any Level - 25 minutes

This ESL word game has been adapted from a famous TV game show. Divide the class into four teams and assign each team with a number. The first team chooses nine letters by saying either 'vowel' or 'consonant'. Each time the team says vowel or consonant, write a random letter on the board, corresponding to the team's choice. Alternatively, you could have a set of letter cards that you stick on the board. When nine letters have been chosen, set a time limit of one or two minutes (depending on the students' 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 the 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 scores the same amount of points as there are letters in the word, e.g. a six-letter word scores six points. If the team has made a mistake, go to the next team with the most letters in their word. The second team then 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. After each round, you can also show the students an anagram. The first team to correctly guess the word scores extra points. The anagrams can be from vocabulary the students have studied in previous lessons.
 

Family Fortunes

ESL TV Game Show - Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary and Above - 25 minutes

This fun ESL quiz game is adapted from a famous TV game show of the same name. Copy the Family Fortunes game board onto the board. Divide the students into two teams and have each team choose a family name. Write the family names on the board. Explain that the aim of the game is for a team to guess the top five answers to a survey. If they do this, they win the round and score 100 points. Each round begins with one member from each team coming to the front of the class and trying to guess a top five answer to a survey question. The first student to give a top five answer can choose for their team to play or pass, depending on the difficulty of the category. The students in the playing team then take it in turns to guess the other top five answers. If an answer is in the top five, it is written next to the corresponding number. The playing team gets three lifelines per round. If an answer is not in the top five, the team loses a life. When this happens, draw a big X in one of the three boxes and say the phrase 'Uh-uhhh.' If a team loses all three lives, the other team has one chance to name one of the other top five answers. If they manage to do this, they steal the round and win all the points. If not, the team that gave the three incorrect answers scores 20 points for each answer they got right. The game is then repeated with a new survey question. The family with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Mastermind

ESL TV Game Show - Reading and Spelling Activity - Elementary and Above - 20 minutes

This ESL word game is based on the TV game show 'Mastermind'. Begin the game by choosing a secret word you want the students to revise, e.g. hospital. 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 are suitable for elementary students. Draw one line on the board for each letter in the word, e.g. eight lines. Divide the students into two teams. One team goes first and tries to guess the word by choosing a word that has the same amount of letters, e.g. elephant. If a letter from their word is in the secret word but in the wrong place, put a cross under the letter. If a letter from their word is in the secret word and in the right place, put a tick under the letter. The other team then uses the information to make another guess. The game continues until one team guesses the secret word. The team to do this scores a point. Repeat the process with a new secret word and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 

Strike it Lucky

ESL TV Game Show - Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary and Above - 25 minutes

This entertaining ESL TV game show is ideal for asking revision questions. Divide the class into four teams. Copy the 'Strike it Lucky' game grid onto the board. Hidden throughout the 30 squares are ten arrows, ten 'Hot Spots' and ten 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 their game grid to see what goes in that square. If it's an arrow, the team gets a free move. The team then 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 question based on a flashcard. If the student answers correctly, 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 that's a 'Hot Spot', the team moves forward, but if the team gets three 'Hot Spots', they lose and are out of the game. If a team gets to the other side of the board without hitting more than three 'Hot Spots', they move onto the next round. The game continues until there is one ultimate champion. The winning team can then play a bonus round for a prize, e.g. sweets or cookies.
 

The Price is Right

ESL TV Game Show - Speaking Activity - Any Level - 20 minutes

This ESL shopping game has been adapted from a famous TV game show. The game can be used when teaching shopping, prices or numbers. Divide the students into teams of four and give each team some pieces of paper. Have each team think of a team name and draw a scoreboard on the board. Show the teams a picture of a product. The aim of the game is for the teams to estimate the price of the product. Estimates must be the actual cost or lower to win. Each team then estimates how much the product cost and writes their answer on a piece of paper. Each team then gives their price. Write each team's price on the board. When all the teams have guessed the price of the product, reveal how much it costs. Teams who estimated over the actual price are out of the round. The team that guessed closest to the actual price wins the round and scores ten points. Repeat the game with a different product and so on. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
 

The Weakest Link

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

This ESL TV game show is great for asking revision questions. Divide the students into teams of two. Try to put a strong student with a weaker one. Give each team a number. Explain that the aim of the game is for the teams to collectively make as many points as possible. Ask the first team a question. The students discuss the question and then give their answer. If the team answers correctly, add 10 points to a group pot. Then, move onto the next team. If they answer correctly, add 20 points to the pot. The next team plays for 30 points and so on. However, if a team answers incorrectly, all the points scored by the teams are removed from the pot. Before a team has their turn, they can choose to bank the points on the board. If they bank the points, they can only answer for 10 points. After each team has answered two questions, get the teams to vote off the weakest link (team). The game then continues as before and after each round the weakest link is voted off. The last two teams left in the game win.
 

Who wants to be a millionaire?

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

Here is a fun ESL adaptation of the famous TV game show 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' Divide the class into two teams and put two chairs at the front of the class. Write a 'Who wants to be a millionaire?' game board on the board for each team. A player from each team then comes and sits in a chair at the front of the class. Ask one player a question for $100. Give the player time to think about their answer and encourage them to talk about their thought process aloud. Then, ask the player for their final answer. The player's teammates are not allowed to call out any answers or help in any way. If the player gets the answer right, put a tick next to $100. Then, repeat the process with the other player. When both players have answered correctly, two new players come up and answer a question for $200 and so on. Each team also gets three lifelines to use when a player is unsure of the answer. Fifty-Fifty - This is where two of the four answers are eliminated, so only two possible answers remain. Ask a friend - The player chooses someone in the class to help them answer the question. Ask the team - The player asks their team which answer they think is correct. This can be done as a vote. When one player answers a question incorrectly, their team loses the game. The winning team then continues to play to see if they can become a millionaire.
 
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