5 perfect games to facilitate your students‘ retention of vocab and grammar points

Avoid yawning faces and make learning English fun for your students with classroom games.

Even the best classes occasionally suffer with fatigue or become unsettled.

Games would appear to be a tried and tested method of reinvigorating a classroom and facilitating learning.

As it happens, however, students can find classroom games tiresome if they are not varied enough and fail to maintain their engagement.

Yet, when games capture the attention of your students, they can be really successful. They become extremely adaptable tools for a teacher to use. These types of games drive home difficult grammar points and consolidate vocabulary. They can reinforce knowledge of chunks. Best of all, they often do not require a mountain of resources.

Here are 5 classroom games which fulfil this criteria perfectly:

1. Find someone who…

When glued to their chairs, students can start to switch off quickly.

Get them out of their seats and get them talking with their peers. Using the ‚Find someone who…‘ model, you can encourage your students to discuss a range of topics.

Most importantly, students effortlessly improve their speaking and listening through active learning: getting up and around the classroom. Students will focus and warm up their brains to the extent that by the time they sit down, everybody will be ready for a productive lesson.

The Rules: The teacher or the students themselves create a grid which they fill with certain attributes, such as „someone who likes cats…“.

Like a classroom bingo, students must go around the room and speak with their fellow peers to ‚find someone who…‘.

Challenge your students to tick off as many boxes as possible and kinaesthetic learners will especially reap the rewards.

‚A Green Game‘ by Westermann is a great example of such a game, combining a fun activity with environmental issues and providing the teacher with many topics to discuss.

2. Fruit Basket

Fruit Basket offers students another chance to adjust the classroom setting and consolidate their knowledge through active learning.

It is easily adaptable for both vocabulary and grammar exercises whilst also improving speaking and listening skills.

The Rules: Ideal as a warm-up exercise, simply organise the classroom into a circle of chairs. There should be one less chair than the respective number of players.

Depending on the theme (both grammar and vocabulary points are possible), each student writes a word or phrase on a piece of paper.

The person who does not have a chair must remain standing. This person says a sentence. Each person who has a word or phrase which can be related to that of the person standing must get up and find a new seat.

The one person who is left without a chair becomes the new person who must stand and the game continues.

Example: Animals

The person standing says, „I am a pet.“

All students who have an animal that can be kept as a pet on their piece of paper would have to find a new chair.

3. Zombie Apocalypse

Why condense the fun into a few minutes at the start of a lesson?

Even traditional resources such as worksheets can be shaped into a fun learning experience to fill the main body of a lesson. Instead of tedious grammar exercises, favour a thematic approach which combines multiple disciplines.

And they’re hardly restricted to a younger age group – who doesn’t like a challenge?

This ‚Zombie Apocalypse‚ worksheet from Westermann’s Arbeitsblatt-Portal English combines creativity with a discussion which encourages students to justify what they would take with them in their own ‚go-bag‘.

Through this thematic approach, the students forget that they are working while improving: vocabulary, grammar, speaking and listening – with a simple and easy-to-download worksheet!

4. Tic-Tac-Toe

What makes a lesson more exciting than a bit of healthy competition?

With correct answers to specific grammar or vocabulary questions the key to success, your students will lend added importance to what they are learning – all in the name of strategy!

You can adapt this game to any topic on the syllabus.

The Rules: This is Tic-Tac-Toe with a difference!

Students are given a question or a definition, the answer being a word relevant to the syllabus. If they answer correctly, they are able to place a counter on a typical Tic-Tac-Toe grid. However, if they give an incorrect answer, the opposing team can place a counter.

The first team to place three-in-a-row in any direction wins!

Here is a great example for a common theme: the environment. Just unpack this Noughts-and-crosses-Whiteboard-Übung.zip file and open using any internet browser.

5. Countdown

Countdown offers the perfect opportunity to challenge advanced students to actively explore their knowledge of English vocabulary.

In the meantime, a competitive streak amongst students will spur them on and leave them groaning that the lesson is coming to an end.

Once again, this game ideally suits the end of a lesson and is difficult to set up in the classroom.

Finish a lesson with three to five rounds of this game.

The Rules: The teacher chooses a random selection of nine letters from two piles: vowels and consonants.

While being timed, the whole class must then form the longest possible word using just those letters. Teachers can adjust what this time limit is.

The winner is the student with the longest word.

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