4 Great ESL games for adults to get your students talking

November 1st, 2016 / Materials

Games for TEFL/ESL classes

These ESL games have been around for years and can be easily adapted as an ESL speaking practice. TEFL teachers can find them in toy shops or online and play these games in their ESL class as a speaking exercise. Alternatively you can make variations yourself with card and felt tips.

Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory’s Story Cubes are nine die with a different picture on each face. The idea is that you roll the cubes and the pictures help people to tell a storyF. Put your students into pairs and hand them each a couple of cubes. Ask them to roll and the picture that appears should spark an idea for a story. Tell them to roll again to continue the story.

They are particularly good to practice the second or third conditional by presenting hypothetical situations.

For example: A student sees a picture of a key and says, ‘Supposing that you lost your keys and everyone you lived with was out of the country, how would you enter your house?’ Or ‘What if, you had no money and had to rob a bank, how would you do it?’

Rory’s Story Cubes can be bought on Amazon or in an app that you shake to ‘roll the dice.’ If you don’t have them, then write 30 random nouns and allocate a few to each pair for the same effect.

Level: A2-C1. Buy for $9.49

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This is a great way to practice that real-life situation when you’re in a foreign country, you don’t know the word for something but you have to describe what it is.

Divide your students into pairs and give one person a secret set of words to describe to their partner. Underneath each word write four additional words that can’t be used in the description. For example, if the word is ‘mirror’, the extra words would be ‘glass’, ‘reflexion’ ‘bathroom’ and ‘yourself.’ After a minute, change roles. The winner is the team that manages to get the most words in two minutes.

Level: A2+. Buy for $14.92


This is a variation on Taboo. Divide your students into pairs and give one person a set of secret words and in the centre of the table place a deck of activity cards on which are written either, ‘describe’, ‘mime’ or ‘spell it backwards.’ This time your students take it in turns to pick a word card and activity card. They must apply the method written on the activity card to explain the word. For example, if the word was ‘frying pan’ and the activity card was ‘mime’ then they must mime what they typically do with a frying pan.

Level: A2+. Buy for $13.96

Snake oil

Students must put random words together to invent products to sell to the other students around the table.

Make two decks; one of random nouns and adjectives and the other of characters composed of professions, people and animals. For example, a supermodel, a spy, a caveman, an international playboy, astronaut, bouncer, the last person on earth, superhero, politician, penguin.

Ask everyone to select a character card at random and show it to the rest of the group. Now deal six word cards to each student. The student must put two random words together to make the best product they can sell to the characters around the table. For example, two words might be ‘comfy’ and ‘sofa’, you may be able to sell a comfy sofa to a politician but to a penguin it would be more difficult, and the student must be very persuasive and inventive to make their case.

Each student gets two minutes to sell their product and each character can only buy two products per round. Continue for as many rounds as you wish. The winner is the student who sells the most products.

This is a great game for business classes.

Level: B1-B2. Buy for $14.99

For more speaking practice ideas go to 5# Killer speaking activities that require no preparation. 

For games, lesson plans, drills, speaking exercises on every ESL grammar point, along with vocabulary sets, buy our best selling book The Ultimate ESL Manual. 


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