Beginner ESL Games

Beginner ESL games are one of the most exciting ways you can teach English and get your students to open up.

Playing beginner ESL games will make students take themselves less seriously and have fun speaking the language.

Here’s a few of our favorite games for teaching beginner level students.



Beginner ESL Games


This game is a classroom favorite and perfect for introducing and drilling new vocabulary in an entertaining way. Have your students stand in a circle. You’ll need a ball for them to pass around. On the whiteboard, write the vocabulary word you want to practice. Give the students a few seconds to try to read the word on their own, correct any pronunciation mistakes.

The students will say the word one at a time while passing the ball clock-wise. After a few students have said the word, start to make an annoying alarm-like sound for a few seconds that insinuates to pick up the pace by passing the ball quickly and saying the word quickly. Your students will pretty much be panicking at this point. Finally, you’ll scream “Kaboom!” and whoever is holding the ball will take a seat. Repeat with new words until only one student is standing.


This is a well-known game that targets listening. Think of a word or sentence depending on your students’ English level. Have your students sit in a line or circle and whisper your phrase to the student next to you. They will pass it on until it reaches the last student, who will then loudly say what they heard. If the last student is wrong, ask the students what the correct answer is.

Continue playing by letting your students be the first to whisper to you. They’ll love being in control of the game and seeing the outcome.


Have your students write their new words on a small piece of paper and then put them into a hat or basket. Divide the class into two teams and be sure to explain that you should only be shouting out answers for their team, otherwise they’ll be docked a point. Give one minute per student to act out their words.

When time is called and all students have had a turn, tally up all the correct answers and write them on the board. Whichever team has the most points wins.


Bingo is great for practicing listening skills. Allow the students to create a 5×5 (or any size) bingo board. Explain that you will only call a word out one time, so the students really need to pay close attention. The first student to fill in the boxes vertically, horizontally, or diagonally is the winner!

To incorporate speaking, allow one student to call out the words instead of the teacher.

Spelling Race:

Divide the class into two teams and split your whiteboard into two sections. Call one student from each team up and have them stand as far away from the whiteboard as possible.

Call out the word and then have the students race to the board to write it. Whoever finishes first with the correct spelling gets a point for their team.

Note: Each of these games can easily be tailored to your students’ English level. If your students are just learning the alphabet, use single letters, verses, and words. If your students are young, but advanced, focus on sentence building.


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