ESL Party Games

Classic party games can be easily adapted to the classroom and make for excellent conversation activities

Some of the best known party games are fun ways to get your class talking as well as learning.

Taboo has been a popular party game for years. You can play this just like the original game, where the player has a card with one word on the top. Below are four words they are not allowed to say.




The player must get the team to guess the word on top of the card. Now, the Taboo game itself is much too hard for ESL students. But you can have them make their own cards.

Get students to think of a noun and write it on top of the card. Then they write four words they can think of that the players can't say. It works better having them create their own cards because they have to think about vocabulary and related words.

Catch Phrase! is a popular party game for adults and families. The idea is to get your team to guess the word as quickly as possible and then pass the next word to the other team.

This game can be adapted to play in an ESL class. The teacher writes out all the vocabulary words on small pieces of paper. The pieces of paper are placed in a box, cup, etc.

Students play in two teams and sit in a circle alternating players from each team. The teacher starts a timer that can’t be seen by the students. The first student takes a word from the box and tries to get his team (only his team) to guess that word. The student can say anything they wish except rhyming words, letters, or spelling. They also can’t act out the word.

When the team guesses the word the student passes the box to the next person (who will be on the opposite team). The box goes around the circle until the timer is finished. Whichever team is holding the box (still guessing) loses a point.

The Game of Things is a popular party game sold by Hasbro. The object of the game is to guess what each person has said.

For parties, the game is enjoyable because people often write silly or funny comments that get a laugh out of everyone. It is also a good game to judge how well you know your friends.

In an ESL classroom, this game can be wonderful. This is a game that can be easily adapted, and you don't really need the actual board game. Here are the rules:

One person becomes the judge and says a statement starting with "things". For example,

  • Things to not do on a first date.
  • Things that make your husband/wife angry.

Everyone else writes an answer on a small piece of paper. The judge collects all the papers and reads them twice.

Then the players take turns trying to guess who said what. For example,

"I think Tom said be late for dinner."

If the person is correct, three things happen:

  • They get a point
  • They guess again
  • The person whose idea was guessed is eliminated for that round.
If they are wrong, the next person tries. The round continues until only one person remains. Then pick a new judge and start another round.

For an ESL class, this game can work very well. It can be used to focus on target language as in these examples:

  • Things you usually do
  • Things you did on the weekend
For a good example of altering the topics, see my post on games for should.

These games are three of my favourites and have always given me great results in the classroom. The idea is to have fun and learn at the same time.

1 comment:

  1. For a game that generates real and relevant conversation in the language learning classroom check out "Truth or Dare for English Language Learners" at