7 TEFL Classroom Activities

Teaching Abroad Direct

When teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) games and classroom activities are an important part of the learning process. If you are teaching a class of children, and especially younger children, you'll need to make your lessons engaging and fun.

Games are a great way to keep children engaged while ensuring that your lesson stays memorable. They can be used as a warm-up activity to get minds switched on and ready to learn, or during the lesson when you're trying to make a complex or tough subject easy to understand. Research shows that learning games can increase students’ retention levels when learning new things.[1]

A fun activity may also be used at the end of the lesson as a way of using up a few spare minutes, or as a round-up to the lesson as a whole. There are plenty of games to choose from, and games can be used to test your students' vocabularies, practice speaking, learn different tenses and more.

Fun classroom activities for ESL

Below is a list of common ESL games that every TEFL teacher should have in their toolkit. Aside from being fun, games should help keep your class on track if you do lose control and things get a tad chaotic.

1. Simon Says

This game is particularly easy, and makes a good option for young children. It will easily get them excited and ready to learn, especially if you begin your lesson with it. In some cases, you might have to remind them at some point that playtime is over and that learning needs to start! It's a great option for starting or ending your class, and enables you to see students' vocabulary and comprehension skills firsthand.


2. Call My Bluff

This is a great icebreaker to use in the early days of teaching your ESL class. It can help you get to know the students better, and will also encourage conversation between them. It is normal for children to be nervous, especially when they are in class together but do not know each other.

This game can also be helpful when teaching smaller class sizes, as it helps everyone to feel more relaxed and comfortable while helping each student to learn things about each other.


Call My Bluff is also perfect for getting students to practice their English speaking skills. You'll need to spare a few minutes at the end of each game to notify students of any mistakes they made. This is better than interrupting them while they are speaking during the game, as this could affect their confidence.

It is a great game for students of all ages, but older students may particularly benefit. Be warned – you'll need your best poker face on!

3. Hangman

This is a well-known game that makes for a great round-up either at the end of the class when you have a few minutes left, or at the start as a way to stimulate the mind.

It's a flexible game, and it doesn't matter how many students you have in your class to play it. Young children in particular will enjoy this game, and it gets them to practice learning new words.


4. Pictionary

This is a great game that tests students on what they have learned, to ensure comprehension. Kids of all ages enjoy it, and for the teachers, it offers a well-earned break. It's a great insight into English vocabulary, and needs just a little preparation beforehand.


5. Hot Seat

This game can be used with older children, teens and adults during an EFL lesson. It might not work so well with younger children. It encourages competition, and enables students to practice speaking, listening and creating conversation. Being an EFL teacher, this game will enable you to establish which students may be finding conversational skills more challenging.


6. Solve My Problem

When you learn a language, it is important to cover language and concepts that relate to giving and receiving advice in order to solve problems. In this way, 'solve my problem' makes a good game to fit into a lesson that covers 'advice' language in some way. It is a great assessment to see how much students have grasped and can work really well in any age group, at any level of language competence.


7. Word jumble

This game is suitable for students of ages, and is a great icebreaker if you are working with students who do not know one another. It encourages competition and working as a team, and also offers insight into students' understanding of tense, grammar and writing/reading skills. You can easily adapt its complexity depending on the age and language skills of the students you are working with.


Introducing these games and activities into your EFL classroom can not only make lessons more fun for students, but can also increase knowledge retention and enhance the learning experience. You might find there are some games that are more common in certain countries you work in. A TEFL teacher can work in a variety of countries including Japan, Australia, Thailand, and plenty more. So you’ll probably pick up new games from whichever country you’re teaching in.


[1] https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1090277.pdf 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.