Why you have to speak
Role plays and speaking games force you to speak English!
When it comes to English, or any foreign language, the most important skill to work on is speaking. The word language comes from the Latin word lingua meaning tongue or speech. Think of English not as a science but as a tool that you use to communicate. When you write, you have time to consider your words carefully, but speech requires a set of skills that you can apply spontaneously. Speech requires the ability to use appropriate vocabulary, register and tone on impulse. The more you practice, the better you will be able to communicate effectively in spoken situations.
Why are games the most effective tool to make people speak?
First of all, games are fun! Games also add an element of healthy competition to the learning experience. When learners feel competitive about the game, they forget their fear of speaking English and become talkative. Especially in a team, people tend to become more outgoing and focus less on any grammar mistakes they may make while speaking. This is great for fluency and building confidence. It’s all about having fun, supporting the team and winning the game. The perfect recipe is a game where players need to speak fast and spontaneously to score points and win.
Here are the games I use to get any group talking in no time
Some of the links below are affiliate links. By shopping through one of these links, it will not change your shopping experience at all, but I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I recommend the games because I have used them in the classroom and find them fun and useful.
1. So… cards
This game is a set of philosophical getting-to-know-you questions. I would recommend it for upper-intermediate to advanced learners.
This game is a great way to start conversation and discussion with a group, or even in pairs. Most of the questions use the second or third conditional, so it’s a great activity for more advanced students.
Although this game is about words and spelling, it can lead to discussion of English words and vocabulary as well. Scrabble is an appropriate game for any age and level of English. Scrabble Junior is developed for learners 5 and up and includes both regular and advanced game options. 2 – 4 players (if you have more players, the hands can be played in pairs.
Players take turns creating words from the tiles marked with letters of the alphabet. Each letter carries points depending on how rare it is. The player with the most points when all 100 letter tiles have been played wins! Words can be challenged and players may have to check the dictionary for spelling or to verify if the word actually exists.
3. Off Topic
This is a great party game for a group of 2 to 8 players. Due to the adult nature of some of the topics, I would recommend this game for adults only.
How To Play: Draw a card to set the topics, and roll the die to set the letter that your responses must start with. Flip the sand timer and write down answers for each topic that begin with the letter rolled. Debating answers with your friends, classmates or family is where the real fun happens! The pace is quick and games can last between 30 and 90 minutes!
4. Guess in 10
Suitable for 2 to 6 players aged 6 and up. It works with English learners of any age, also adult English learners.
This card game can be played anywhere and is great for reviewing question forms and expanding vocabulary. Players ask up to 10 questions to guess the animal on the Game Card! Is it a carnivore? Is it a domestic animal? Does it live in groups? Think hard, ask intelligent questions and be the first player to win 7 Game Cards!
4 or more players aged 8 and up.
This highly interactive game includes 320 cards and offers easy, medium and difficult challenges of charades. Players have to act out the words given for their teammates to guess. The game is exciting and fast paced!
This is an individual or team game recommended for ages 13 and up. Intermediate English to advanced.
This game is great for building vocabulary and increasing fluency. Choose a category card, then roll the die to see which letter shows up. Then, think of answers for each category that begin with the given letter. You can only score points if your answers are different from the other teams’. Players can also challenge answers and vote on whether words are acceptable or not.
7. Guess Who?
This game is fun for language learners at any age. It can be played in pairs or teams. I would recommend this game for beginner to intermediate English learners as the questions produced will be in the present simple and continuous.
This guessing game is great for students who need practice describing people and using the present continuous. Players, or teams, take turns guessing which person the opposing team has selected by asking yes/no questions, such as “is the person wearing a hat? Is the person blonde?” etc.
8. Been there, Done that
The game is appropriate for any age, but recommended for 13 and up. Perfect for Intermediate to advanced English speakers.
This is a game of conversation starters and icebreaker questions. It’s great for practicing the past tense and present perfect through discussing what the players have and haven’t done during the given time period.
9. Say anything
4 to 8 players. This game is suitable for teens and adults.
Players are read a question and everyone thinks of a witty, absurd or unusual answer. This game is especially suitable for a creative group and is sure to spur discussion. It works fantastically as an online lesson, too!
What is the worst place to go on a first date?
What would be the weirdest animal to ride in a parade?
What would be the worst pizza topping?Learn English with Say Anything
10. Black Stories
This is a guessing game for intermediate to advanced students. Personally, I would recommend this game for adults as kids could find the topics a bit scary.
In this game, players hear about a death or accident and have to ask yes/no questions to figure out what happened. The game is always suspenseful and players have fun asking complex questions to find out what happened. This game gives players the opportunity to really work on question forms!
This game works perfectly as an online activity!
11. Don’t say it
2 or more teams of players aged 6 and up.
Players get their teammates to guess the given word, but are not allowed to say 4 “forbidden” words. If the players are beginners, the game can be tweaked so that one or more of the forbidden words are allowed.
This game has three levels, so any English learner can play. It’s fantastic for speaking practice and vocabulary building. Players get carried away with speaking as they try to go through as many cards as you can before the buzzer sounds. The first team to earn 100 points wins!
3 or more players aged 8 and up.
This guessing game is a classic! Basically, players try to get their teammates to guess the word by drawing it on paper or dry board (depending on which version you have). Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a great artist to play. Sometimes the simplest drawing works best!
The game is similar to Taboo, but players draw the word instead of describing it. this could make the game easier for more beginner players.
Learn English with Pictionary
4 or more players aged 13 and up.
Players get teammates to guess the word without saying the forbidden words on the cards.
Taboo is a game that makes anyone competitive. In fact, the game includes 260 cards with over 640 Guess words.
14. Word teasers
This game is suitable for all ages and is very educational. Particularly, I would recommend this to teens, young adults or any non-native English speakers interested in learning about idioms.
Players will have fun learning and discussing English idioms and their origins. The cards can be used as a party game, a conversation starter or discussion topic. Although the rules to the game are simple, players get to actually use the learned idiom.
Who among your friends is most likely to get your goat?
Meaning: To make someone angry or upset; to annoy.
In the early 1900s, horse trainers would reportedly put a goat in the stall with a high-strung racehorse as a way to calm the horse. Opponents would sometimes steal the goat at night (get one’s goat) as a way to make the race horse upset and ultimately lose the race.
15. Liar Liar
This game is suitable for teens and adults. 3 or more players.
This is a super fun game. In each round, all players answer a question about themselves and the others try to guess who’s lying. In other words, players tell a truth or a lie depending on their assigned role and can score points when others incorrectly identify their truth as a lie – or their lie as a truth.