Vocabulary games help English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students increase their word knowledge and practice their English in a more laid-back setting. Whether you're teaching children or adults, you should incorporate games into every lesson, starting by teaching the concept--such as a grammar point or new vocabulary words--and then using these EFL vocabulary games to reinforce the knowledge.
For quiet classes, crossword puzzles can be a good way to practice vocabulary. The descriptions can either be word-based or you can have fill-in-the-blank style questions, where students must insert vocabulary words. Make crossword puzzles easier for beginning students by including a list of the potential answers on the worksheet.
Spread all the vocabulary words across the floor and have students toss a bean bag toward them. They must say the word that's on the card the bean bag hits or use the word in a sentence. You can also draw a target on the board; once students say the vocabulary word for the flash card you're holding, they have a turn tossing something sticky at the board to earn points.
Around the World
To play Around the World, student #1 stands behind student #2, who's seated at her desk. The two compete to say the vocabulary word for the flash card that you hold up. If student #1 is the first to say the word, he gets to move on and compete with the student #3, who's also sitting at her desk. If student #2 is first, she gets to move on to student #3, while student #1 sits at her desk. The winner is the first student to successfully compete against all the students in the class--moving "around the world"--and returning to his own seat.
Students sit in a small circle and you spread the flash cards on the floor. As you say a vocabulary word, students must try to be the first to touch the card. The student who does earns a point or gets to keep the card. Make this more challenging by spreading the cards throughout the room and asking students to rush around to find the card. Hide a few under rugs or up high.
Spread all the vocabulary words in a circle on the floor. Each student picks one card and stands next to it as his starting place. He rolls a dice and moves forward that many cards, and must then say that word or use it in a sentence. This game is ideal because there are no winners or losers and you can play it as long as you want.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.