Using Games in EFL Classes for Children

Yin Yong Mei ("Lotus")
Jang Yu-jung ("Jessy")

What Is a Game?

"A game is an activity with rules, a goal and an element of fun. There are two kinds of games: Competitive games, in which players or teams race to be the first to reach the goal, and co-operative games, in which players or teams work together towards a common goal. The emphasis in the games is on successful communication rather than on correctness of language." (Toth, 1995)

Why Use Games in Class Time?

How to Choose Games (Tyson, 2000)

How to Organize Your Class

The Role of the Teacher

Some Practical Activities

1. Vocabulary game: Broken sentences (Lewis & Bedson, 1999)

In this activity, students have to put together sentences which have been broken up into two halves.


  1. Copy and cut up some sentences as below, so there is one sentence for each pair of students in the class. (If there is an odd number, the teacher can take part.)
  2. Students walk around the room trying to find their "pair." Once they have, they sit down.
  3. Check by getting each pair to read out their sentence.
Variation: In this activity, we can also break up the sentences into three parts.

2. The homophone game (intermediate/advanced) (Lewis & Bedson, 1999)

This activity is for pairs or groups. Before starting, explain what homophones are, namely words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings, e.g., I, eye.

  1. Before starting, tell each pair/group to write the numbers 1-20 in a column on a separate piece of paper.
  2. Read out the words one at a time. After you have read out each word, allow the pairs/groups 20-30 seconds to try to write down two possible words.
  3. Continue in this manner until all 20 words have been read out.
  4. Check orally. If you wish, get one person from each pair/group to write their answer on the board. Try to get them to explain the different meanings.

3. Drawing a picture: (no reference)

  1. Divide the students into pairs or groups.
  2. One or two students come to the blackboard and get ready to draw the picture
  3. Give one picture to each group to see except the student who is ready to draw.
  4. Other students describe the objects in the picture, and the student who didn't see the picture draws it according his classmates' description.
  5.  The group who finish drawing in the shortest time, and whose picture is most similar to the original is the winner.

Five-minute Activities (Ur & Wright, 1996)

When teachers prepare their lesson, like teaching a new grammar point or reading of a text, they will need some extra ingredients to make it into a smooth, integrated unit.

The need for short activities:

  1. A quick warm-up for the beginning to get your students into the right mood for learning.
  2. An idea for a brief vocabulary review before starting a new text.
  3. A light filler to provide relief after a period of intense effort and concentration.
  4. A brief orientation activity to prepare a change of mood or topic.


Hadfield, J (1996). Elementary communication games. Longman: Addison Wesley Longman Ltd.

Lee, J. M. (1996). English games. Seoul: The People Publisher.

Lee, S. C. (1980). 101 games & activities for primary English. Seoul: Moonjin Media.

Lee, W. R. (1979). Language teaching games and contests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lewis, G., & Bedson, G. (1999). Games for children. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rinvolucri, M. (1984). Grammar games. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Toth, M. (1995). Children's games. Oxford: Heinemann Publishers.

Tyson, R. E. (2000). "Serious" fun: Using games, jokes, and stories in the language classroom. Class handout.

Ur, P., & Wright, A. (1992). Five-minute activities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This page last updated: December 10, 2000

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