ESL Game Shows

Television game shows can make for some of the best ESL classroom activities. 

Here is a list of my favourite game shows to use in class. I am not going to explain the games too much, so I will assume you have a basic knowledge of how they are played. If not, you can find more information on each game in the comments.

Family Feud
This one works well because the topics are limitless, and you can adjust them for your needs. Most of the time I simply invent the top 4 answers and give them a point value. The joke with my students is that they eventually realize the answers are not from what 100 people say, and just what I made up, which leads to "We asked what one ESL teacher thinks...."

Works best with two teams of about 3-7.

Deal or No Deal
This one doesn't really help to practice a lot of English skills, but the students sure do love it. All you need to do is predetermine where the money values are out of 10 boxes. 

I secretly write down the numbers 1-10, and then write a money value beside it. Students can work in teams to choose the number of the box that I have on the board. As the different values are eliminated I stop and offer them a sum, which they can take or continue playing. The teams are in competition to see who can win the most money.

Works best with two teams of 4-5.

This one is perhaps the best for practicing grammar. First, the answers always have to be in the form of a question, which gets them practicing questions right away. 

Second, each category can be a different grammar topic, like verb tenses. Or, you can simply play with trivia questions, and let the students focus more on having fun and structuring their answers as questions.

Works best with around 5-10.

Wheel of Fortune
Still the classic vocabulary building game, that also helps with spelling. This game is essentially just a more advanced version of Hangman, but if you have more time it is lots of fun. Just make sure you have the right number of blank spaces on the board, because it's a disaster when the word doesn't fit.

Works best with 5-10, but can be played with larger numbers.

These four games make for lots of fun in class. They can be played with an extra 10-15 minutes at the end of the lesson, or a whole session can be dedicated to playing them.

Does anyone else have any other ideas about game shows that work well in the ESL class? I'm still trying to work out how to play The Price is Right, but I can't seem to find where I can buy a Plinko board....


  1. These look like good games, but since I don't know these television shows,* I can't use them "as is." Could you please add information on how the games actually work?

    * I don't have a television, and I don't live in the U.S.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Here is some information on the shows:!

      Would you like some videos to see the action?