Top 10 ESL Games And Activities For Adult English Learners

Top 10 ESL Games And Activities For Adult English Learners

What is ESL?

ESL is a short form for English as a Second Language. English as a Second Language is a course that is designed for non-native speakers in South Africa so as to enable them to learn English as a second language. 

The key benefit of English as a second language for adults in South Africa is that it enables them to communicate with people from all over the world  and within South Africa. In addition, English course enables adult ESL students to take care of their education, business, and personal needs.

There are certainly many English courses and programs that are available for adult ESL students in South Africa, and this article is particularly going to focus on games and activities that are often integrated with the English course for South African learners. 

Why Are ESL Games and Activities Important for Adult Learners?

Language games and activities are a fun way of teaching English in an adult school ESL curriculum because they enable students to be creative, to relate, to practice specific language skills, to cooperate with each other, to revise what has already been taught, and to be natural when using the language. 

It is important that English teachers explain to the adult ESL students why they are taking part in a specific game. When the intention of playing a game isn’t made clear, adult learners are likely to view such games as playful activities, and they may refuse to be part of them.  

Games and activities for beginners, intermediate and advanced English course in South Africa include:

Top ESL Activities for Large Class

These activities can be used in a class of 1 to 100 ESL adult learners.

Sentence Game 

This is an activity that is very important in learning English grammar because it enables learners to give attention to their English grammar. It is an activity that can be used in a class of 1 to 100 students. It can be modified so that it can go with the needs of beginner, intermediate and advanced English students.

How it is played
  • Divide the class into two teams
  • One student from every team will write a disorganized sentence on the whiteboard
  • For example, playing school after love I basketball (I love playing basketball after school)
  • The first learner to rewrite the sentence correctly gets points for his/her team.
  • Teams should be encouraged to support each other
  • The winning team is the one that earns more points 

2. Charades 

This is a game where students are required to use actions to communicate with the classmates the secret word. 

How it is played:
  • Divide the class into two teams
  • Write vocabularies on pieces of paper (you can use words related to careers, verbs, adjectives or animals)
  • Each team selects a person who will choose a piece of paper and  dramatize the word that is on the piece of paper 
  • Each team should be given at least 20 seconds 

3. ESL Surveys

ESL surveys are activities that shift the focus from the teacher to the students, and they are aimed at improving all the four skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing. It is a game that imitates what happens in the real world where students do not have concentrate on a single activity at any given time or in isolation. 

Surveys also encourage interaction among students because they are able to go round the class and talk to classmates. 

How it is played
  • Students are required to read specific questions 
  • Questions are directed to students
  • The students answer the questions 
  • Students take notes with reference to the answers 

4. Concentration

This is a fun game that enables beginners or intermediate students to revise their vocabulary. 

How it is played:
  • Students can match definitions with words or pictures with words. 
  • Students play in pairs or in groups of up to six
  • It can be played in a small or large class 

5. Hot Seat

This is a fun activity that helps students to revise their vocabulary.

How it is played:
  • Divide the class into two teams
  • Students should sit facing the whiteboard
  • Two empty chairs or hot seats are put at the front facing the teams.
  • A student from each team sits on the hot seat while facing the team members, and with the back on the board
  • A vocabulary word is written on the board and each student on the hot seat tries to guess the word in English

6. Real world videos

Videos are a great tool for ESL classes because they enable learners to have a real and memorable learning experience. Learners get to listen to new voices, pronunciation, accents, tones, and terminologies.

How it is done:
  • Introduce the video and have a quick discussion about the vocabularies
  • Make the lesson interactive.

7. Pictionary

This is a drawing game where the teacher makes a list of vocabulary words that the learners are familiar with. 

How it is played:
  • Divide the class into  two teams
  • One student from every team draws on the whiteboard 
  • Teams make a guess what their classmate is drawing
  • Time given should be at least 3 minutes
  • Each correct word or guess earns each team points, and the team that earns 10 points or more is the one that wins.
  • Students should be encouraged to raise their hands for a chance to answer

8. Dictionary Game 

This is a fun game that can be used in an advanced English course because it is for students who know how to write and make use of a dictionary. 

How it is played:

The teacher or a student can pick a word that is hard to understand from the dictionary, and no one should find out the meaning of the word. After the word is selected, every student should write the meaning of the word on a piece of paper, but the person who selected the word should write the real definition. 

All the papers should then be collected, and all the definitions should be read out loud to the class so that students can vote on the definition they think is the correct one. Students earn points for knowing the correct definition, or for having their definition voted as the right one.  

9. Taboo 

This is a game that is used to test speaking and vocabulary skills. 

How it is played:

A student is given a paper with a certain number of words (the number of words can be adjusted to suit your class), and the student is supposed to say any word without saying the taboo words, or the keywords that have been written on the paper.

10. Hangman

This is a fun game that is effective in learning English grammar, writing, and spelling. 

How it is played:

The teacher or ESL students are supposed to come up with words, and classmates can guess or fill in the missing letters. The teacher is allowed to make the sentences or vocabulary complex for advanced learners.

How to Use ESL Games with Adult English Learners

  1. Explain to your students why they have to play a certain game, and how that game will improve their English. In other words, do not guess that your students will want to play a game just because you have told them.
  2. Make sure your language games create a shared experience for your adult students.
  3. Games enable adult learners to be able to use different approaches in solving problems
  4. When choosing a language game, it is important that you pick one that will help them fulfill their desires of making friends, learning about another country, or socializing in general. 
  5. Respect your students and try to find out their expectations about learning English so that you can select games that will improve their class experience and English skills.
  6. Before picking your English games, try to think about the cultural background of your students so that you can be able to determine how flexible or inclusive the ESL learning games should be.
  7. If students are from different cultural backgrounds, consider using role plays so that you can encourage them to get out of their cultural comfort zone. In addition, help your students understand that they are in an English classroom or environment. 
  8. Always remember that the gender of your adult English learners has a big role to play with regard to how men and women learn. In other words, women are known to be more flexible and verbal, while men are competitive and analytical in nature.

Final Thoughts!

Most adult learners often feel ashamed or worried when learning a second language more so English. Therefore, it is important that every teacher includes games in ESL classes so that learning can be fun and less worrisome. In other words, ESL activities and games tend to improve the confidence of adult ESL students 

What’s more, adults in ESL courses tend to enjoy games because they are able to compete among themselves and to think independently or as a group without been criticised. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.