Top 20 Language Games and Activities for Fun
By: Shahzad Bashir
Learning a language is no walk on the beach. True it takes time and effort to learn about any language other than your own mother tongue. When it comes to teaching it means to put a lot of effort into teaching a group of students a new language. Especially if you are teaching a group of intermediate students isn’t an easy task. At this point, learning basics can easily bore the group of learners.
You do not want the young group of learners to be frustrated when learning and getting acquainted with the new language. So you need to make it interesting.
How to do so?
Instead of the traditional language teaching method (which can make taking a lesson quite boring), you can think of some ways!
It’s amazing what a difference the teaching method can make when learning a language.
So whether you want your kid or your student to learn the language in a fun way even at home, take a look at fun games and activities down below.
1. The last man standing
This is a fun game! All you need is to use a ball as a prop. This is a fast-paced game despite the fact that it allows students to be quick in their responses. The main benefit of playing this game is that it encourages peer learning.
To play the game, you need to arrange students in a large circle. Choose a theme or a category like games, colors, etc. each student will have to name one word within the chosen category and then pass the ball to the next student.
Each student needs to come up with a unique word related to the category. If they are unable to do it or repeat the word, that student will have to sit on the sidelines. The student who remains standing in the game will be the winner.
Most of you might be familiar with this game. Pictionary is a drawing game. You use the cars from the board game to create the picture and then the other person has to guess what it is.
But you must give it a spin. If you want to play it in a classroom, then a chalkboard is the prop of use. Make a column for scorekeeping.
Divide the class into two teams. One by one the team players of each team will come up front and draw the picture (as mentioned in the card). It is only with the drawing that teammates can guess the words. For each correct word, one team player will get a score. The first team to win 10 points will be the winning team!
Ok, so this game is quite similar to Pictionary. But instead of drawing the picture, the team player has to do actions! This one is pretty much fun.
To begin this game, write down simple verbs in English and the teammates have to guess the word in the second language with the action of the fellow team player. Keep an estimated time of 3 minutes for every turn. For each correct word, the team receives a point. The team with the first 10 points will win.
4. Taboo words
If you want your students to learn synonyms and descriptions at a good pace, then this game will do them good.
Just make two teams in the classroom. Now one team player from both teams will sit in front of the “hot seat”. One student will stand behind the student in the hot seat holding one piece of paper with the word written on it. The fun part is that the student in the hot seat does not know what is written on the paper!
The twist? The student cannot say the word in any circumstances! They have to guess the word.
5. 20 objects
Do you want to test your student’s vocabulary and memory all at the same time? Then you need to catch up with 20 different basic objects in your classroom. You can also bring items of choice aside from the classroom.
Now arrange the objects on the desk. Let the students look at the objects for 3 minutes. Then cover the objects and send students back to their seats. Students will write the names of all the objects they can remember in the second language they are learning.
Call out the name of the objects to see which student got it right. The student with the most score will win.
This is one of the most fascinating games to play at all levels. Students will be eager to play it even in their second language. Also with this game, the vocabulary improves quickly.
What you need to do is to ask students to draw at least 6 columns on their paper. Each column will be represented by a certain category like name, place, animal, thing, and so on.
Choose a random alphabet, to begin with. Write that letter on the board, and students will have an estimated time to write down words starting with that particular letter in the second language. If a student writes a unique word he would get 10 points for it. If the word is repeated by another student they both get 5 points and so on. Repeat it 5-6 times.
The student with the most score will win in the end.
7. Letter scramble
This is one of the most traditional learning board games. Scramble is loved by almost everyone. It’s a quality game that improves your memory skills and vocabulary all at the same time.
But here’s the twist. When in the classroom, you scramble the letters on the board without particular order. Allow the students to unscramble the words in 1 minute time. The student who unscrambles the most words in the least time will win in the end.
8. What am I thinking of?
So this game is all too similar to the 20 objects. But the major difference is that it is played with visual clues. Divide the class into two teams.
Or you can even pair up the students. Now hand over each pair/team an object. Let them think about the related words that best describe the object. After they have written it, swap the papers with other teams/pairs.
Let the students figure out the hidden objects. The written clues must be in the learning language. The team or pair to guess first will win.
So this one is one of the most known games. It is usually played with numbers. But the fun part is it's a word bingo.
All you need to do is ask the students to make bingo sheets with a 4x4 grid (or as required). Write down the words on the board in learning language so that students can copy them as they please. The student who finishes marketing the entire page will be the first winner. This game is pretty simple and interesting to play even at home with your parents.
10. Board race
Things will become more interesting when you will divide the class into two teams for a board race. The more teams you have the more interesting the game will become.
Begin by giving each team a colored marker and draw a line in the middle of the whiteboard. Write a topic on the top in the learning language. Now let each team continue with as many words as they require related to the top written word. It will form a relay race.
The team will score for every right word. If the words are unreadable or misspelled they will not be counted. Sounds fun right?
11. Call my bluff
Can you answer a question with a straight face?
This is call my bluff game. A basic interaction game that allows students and teachers to get acquainted with each other in a fun way. It also helps to improve speaking skills which is an added benefit.
Begin by writing three statements about yourself on the board. Two of the three statements will be true while the remaining one will be a lie. Let the student ask you questions related to the written statement. They have to guess which is truth/false. If they guess correctly then they win.
12. Simon says
It may sound cliche, but Simon says it is as old a game as it gets. But it's the best game for young learners. Young age groups learn best by imitation. And this is what Simon says is all about. It helps improve the vocabulary and builds muscle memory too.
All you need to do is do an action or speak a word and let the students copy it. Repeat the process and choose different words or actions no matter how silly they might be. It's a fun based game.
But the twist is you have to begin the action by saying “Simon says stand up” and only then students are supposed to copy you. If you omit “Simon says” before doing that action and a student copies it, he/she is out.
You may have played the online version of this game at some point in your life. But this game in a classroom can be one of the easy ways to let students learn new vocabulary in their learning language.
Just think of a word and write the letters on the board. But instead of writing the entire word, I missed a few letters. Ask the students to suggest the right letter to complete the word. If the letter is right the student(s) will score. It can be individually played and even in the form of teams.
14. Where shall I go?
The most difficult part of learning a new language is to learn the grammar. Especially learning prepositions in a second language is a challenge.
So here’s what you are going to do; before students enter the class, use tables and chairs to create a maze inside the class (you can also use an outdoor setting). Divide students into pairs. Blindfold one student while the other student will guide the blindfolded student with the directions. The blindfolded student must make it through to the center/exit point of the maze to win.
15. What is my problem?
A game with the advantage of team building and group effort alongside vocabulary learning is yet another of the best activities. In this game, the team is expected to give advice on the problem.
Here’s how students can play it.
Write ailments or problems on sticky notes, and paste them on the back of one of the players of each team. You can make as many teams as you want according to your strength.
Now let the student (with an attached sticky note) move from one group to another asking to help them. Students need to solve the problem by giving advice.
Now once each group is done, the student with a sticky note will try to guess what the problem or disease was written on his back. The first one to guess it will win.
16. Find something
As compared to other un games mentioned above, this one is a simple one. But you need to play it with your student in the learning language.
So if you are taking online classes, this is the best way to engage students into learning new words or taking a quiz in a fun way.
All you need to do is ask students to look around their room carefully. Just tell the student to look for something that starts with a certain letter like “P” or “R”. but the word must be spoken or written in the learning language. See? This will definitely jog the memory of the learning lessons taken so far.
17. Hidden objects
Have you played a criminal case? It is an online game on Facebook where a scene is reviewed with hidden objects. The player has to find the objects mentioned. This game is exactly similar to a criminal case.
Just begin by preparing a picture (a messy one) with various objects in it. Now prepare a list of items that are present in the picture.
Write the words in the learning language. This will clearly help students recall the names of the verb, noun, and so on. The student who finds all the hidden objects first/in less time will win.
18. Odd one out
This is an easy-to-play game with young and middle-level learners. It helps boost their vocabulary and improve their listening skills as well.
Call out a list of objects (at least five) but one of the objects in the list is the odd one out. Like keys, tires, windshield, glass, door, and sleep. The odd word is prominent here. Depending on the student’s learning level, you can choose complicated categories.
If the student picks all the right odd objects then they win.
19. Tell me 5
Another of the most simple activities to play with the students online is tell me 5. The benefit of this game is that it improves the speaking and listening skills alongside the vocabulary.
Just list at least 10 categories on the screen like colors, food, films, etc., and ask the student to choose 5 categories. The student then will tell 5 objects related to the chosen category in one minute time. If they are able to do it they will score!
20. Word chain
For an online classroom activity, word chain is the perfect choice at all levels. Provide 4-5 categories. Ask every student to say or write the word related to any category. The next student will write or say another word within the same category but the word will begin the last letter of the previously written word.
For instance; the first word is orange and the next word is eggs. Both words belong to the food category. If a student takes more than the estimated time he will have to forfeit and vice versa.
Things to keep in mind in learning games
If you are looking to make your students learn the language in an interesting game, you do not need a lot of props. Even simple and interactive ideas can do the trick. The main purpose of using fun and game activities is to engage the pupil to learn the second language smartly and in the most efficient way.