ESL Word Association Games

Mallet's Mallet

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

This amusing word association game has been adapted from an English TV game show. Divide the students into two teams. Have the students line up in their team. Place two chairs at the front of the classroom. Have one player from each team come and sit on a chair. Give the two players a category, e.g. sports. The two players then take it in turns to say a word associated with the category. If a player can't think of a word, hesitates or repeats a word, they get hit with an inflatable hammer or toy and are out of the game. A new player from their team then comes and sits in the chair and the two players are given a new category. When a student beats three opposing team members, they step down and let someone else play. The first team to run out of players loses. As a variation, have the students sit in a circle and call out a category. The students take it in turns to say a word associated with the category. If a student hesitates, repeats a word or can't think of a word, they are out of the game and leave the circle. The game continues with a new category until one student is left. That student is the winner.
 

Password

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

Here is an imaginative ESL word association game to play with your students. Divide the students into two teams. One player from each team comes to the front of the class. Show the two players a word you wish to revise on a piece of paper. This is the 'Password'. The aim of the game is for the teams to guess the password. To do this, the two players take it in turns to tell their team a word associated with the password. For example, if the password is 'flower', a player might say 'roses'. The player's team then consults with each other and tries to guess the password by associating the word 'roses' with another word. If a team guesses correctly the first time, they score five points. On the second try, they score four points and so on. If both teams are unable to guess correctly after five times, the players are changed and a new password is given. When a password is correctly identified, two new players come to the front and start over with a new password. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
 

What's the Topic?

ESL Word Association Game - Reading and Writing Activity - Elementary and Above - 25 minutes

This word association game helps students practice vocabulary relating to a topic. The game can also be used as a lead-in to a topic area. Write a list of ten topics you want the students to practice on the board, e.g. holidays, happiness, technology, etc. Divide the students into teams of two and give each team a piece of paper. Ask the teams to copy the topics from the board and then write three words they associate with each topic. You can specify whether the three words should be general or personal associations. For example, the topic 'holidays' can be generally associated with words like 'beach' or 'hotel', but someone may have a personal association with the topic 'holidays' such as 'cycling' or 'sleeping'. When the students have finished writing, have each team join with another team. The teams then take it in turns to say one of their associated words to the other team. The other team has three chances to guess which topic the word refers to. If the team guesses the correct topic on their first try, they score three points. On their second try, they score two points. On their last try, they get one point. This process continues until all the words have been used. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. You can make the game longer or shorter by changing the number of topics and words the students write.
 

Word Association Game

ESL Word Association Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Any Level - 15 minutes

This word association game is easy to set up and play. Ask all the students to stand up. Choose a word that you are currently teaching. The first student says a word that they associate with the chosen word. The second student then associates a word with the first student's word. This continues from student to student, e.g. ocean, blue, green, field, flower, valentine, love, heart, etc. If a student can't think of a word, repeats a word or is too slow to answer, they are out of the game and sit down. The last student left standing wins the game. Alternatively, you can have the students only associate words with your chosen word.
 

Word Disassociation Game

ESL Word Game - Listening and Speaking Activity - Any Level - 15 minutes

Here is a fun game to play with any level. This game is the opposite of word association. Have the students stand in a circle. Tell the students that they are going to play a game where they call out words that are unassociated with each other. Choose a word at random. The first student says a word that is unassociated with the chosen word. The second student then says a word that is unassociated with the first student's word and so on. If a student says a word that is connected with the previous word, takes too long to answer or repeats a word, they are out of the game and sit down. Anyone can challenge a student if they think there is a connection. If the connection is agreed, that student is out of the game. The last student left standing wins.
 
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