Games In Teaching.

A Sample Language Game



The Yes/No Quiz.


When selecting games for TEFL (Teaching English As A Foreign Language) classes, one must take a much wider look at how the students came to be there, and what English they need to survive. When TEFL students are learning the playing of games can relieve stress, and allow them to laugh and have fun while still gaining new words and getting to know one another as they go along.

The following game is an example of a fun game (or exercise) to play with students and it’s most significant element is that it totally reduces Teacher Talking Time and allows the students to interact with each other and share the learning experience.

Rules Of The Game.

1. All students must participate.
Note: Teacher should encourage participation from quieter or shyer students. Teacher resists urge to participate thereby encouraging maximum SST.

2. Teacher writes (or projects) sample questions for all students to see. This demonstrates the simplicity of the game to the students.
(See sample questions below.)

3. Teacher provides a Box of Verbs printed on small cards which the leading student dips into to take one at random.
(To select the first candidate Teacher should ask for a volunteer).

4. Student can only answer with YES or NO to any question. If the question can not be answered in this way then the student says PASS.

5. Each member of the class is allowed ask one question (and all students are allowed to take notes); all students will thereby accumulate information about the VERB as the game progresses.

6. The roles then reverse slightly and the leader asks each member of the class do you know the mystery verb. Each student proffers an answer and the first one (though not yet announced) to get it right takes the next turn to lead or nominate one other to do so.
(Note: It makes the game more interactive if all nine answers are heard before declaring the winner or winners).

7. As the game begins to flow the teacher can ‘step back’ and allow the students to interact with each other or, if so desired, become a contestant themselves.

Materials Required.

1. Projected list of proposed questions.

2. One shoebox of VERBS on small printed cards.

3. One empty shoebox for used VERBS.

Game Explanation.

The following game is called BLEEP1 and is sometimes known as “COFFEEPOT” or ‘BLIP’ and the object of the game is to guess the VERB. However, the game, with some amendments, can also be played for all parts of speech including adjectives, adverbs, nouns, pronouns but in this case we will use the game to teach at INTERMEDIATE level the concept of VERBS.

In this game each student is given a VERB suitable for the level of the class being taught which, in this case, is INTERMEDIATE. The class is either divided into pairs or, if the group is small, invited to work as one group. The purpose of the game is to get the pairs or group to discover the VERB by asking a series of relevant questions.

In this example we will assume a group of 10 students are participating in the class. One student is given a card (Leading Student) with a VERB printed on it and he or she stands at the front of the class. The remaining nine stay seated and each one is allowed to ask only one question but nobody is allowed to take a guess until all nine questions are asked. Students are instructed to make a note of what they believe the VERB to be. At the end of the questioning session the teacher asks for a show of hands as to who thinks they have the correct VERB. Neither the teacher nor the leading student reveals the VERB.

The aim of the game is to guess the meaning of the word BLEEP but not straightaway but to prolong the game for all members of the group to pose at least one question. When a class member thinks they know the meaning of the word they can still ask further questions which make the meaning of the word clear to the rest of the class or will amuse the student who is answering the questions.

Sample Questions.

The use of a nonsense word BLEEP is substituted for the target VERB. Before the game begins the teacher must write (or project Powerpoint Slides) some sample questions as follows;

1. When do you BLEEP?

2. Where do you BLEEP?

3. How do you BLEEP?

4. Did you BLEEP with somebody in the last 24 Hours?

5. Can you BLEEP someone?

6. Do you often BLEEP?

7. Did you BLEEP yesterday?

8. Are you BLEEPING now?

9. Are you going to BLEEP this weekend?

10. Have you BLEEPED since you arrived in class?

11. Do you like BLEEPING?

12. If I saw you BLEEPING would I be embarrassed?

13. Have you ever seen me BLEEP?

14. Do you prefer to BLEEP on your own or in mixed company?

15. Is BLEEPING something a lot of people do?

16. If I BLEEP can I be heard?

17. How many times a day do you BLEEP?

18. Do you BLEEP when you are socialising?

19. Are you good at BLEEPING?

20. Can you teach me or anyone else how to BLEEP?

Sample Verbs.






(Of course, the game works perfectly for all Verbs).


Ultimately, all TEFL students want to learn English, and using games will help them to achieve their goals with more fun, laughter, and ease than any workbook or lecture ever could. All it takes is a little forethought, a wide variety of games to choose from, and sensitivity to the needs and experiences of the students.


About Gerard Hannan

Media Student at MIC/UL in Limerick, Ireland. Worked as a Broadcaster/Journalist in Limerick for over 25 Years and has also published four local interest books.

Posted on April 9, 2012, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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