English Games and Activites for ALT's

Our full list of games and activities for ALT's teaching ESL English in Japanese schools.

Fruit basket is a wonderful game for reviewing vocabulary in elementary school English lessons. Wonderful because the students know the rules and wonderful because they love to play it (obviously not the older ones). With one less chair, the game revolves around changing where you sit while trying not to be the last one left without a seat.

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Karuta is a Japanese game similar to snap. It's a fun way to test listening recognition for vocabulary sets and students love this game. The bonus is that every Japanese student knows karuta so you barely have to explain the rules.

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The bomb game is good for drilling vocab or basic conversation phrases. Students must say the target word/phrase before passing the "bomb". Everyone gets very excited playing this game but watch out because tensions can get high.

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The fly swatter game is kids whacking the blackboard with (clean, I hope) fly swats. Every teacher knows this game and students love it. Good for reviewing vocab and just having a good time.

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The parachute game is a fun and less morbid interpretation of hangman. The mechanics of the game are very similar to hangman - students have a set number of guesses to get the answer but there are a few different ways you can play the parachute game in an elementary class.

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In human bingo, each student is assigned a number, animal, etc and becomes a square in a bingo game. When all students in a group have been "crossed out", that team wins. You can use this game to practice various vocabulary sets, such as numbers, colors, animals, fruit, etc.

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The relay gesture game is a combination of running and gesturing as a group. It is a fun game to competitively practice any vocabulary or phrases that can be gestured.

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Find your partner is one of the most basic games for English lessons around and so simple that you can adapt it to fit pretty much any lesson's target phrase/language or vocabulary set.

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The freeze game is a fun way to get the younger, energetic (or rowdy) classes to expend some energy while drilling new vocabulary. Chanting English with a lot of movement and "Freeze!" thrown in to challenge students.

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The make a snake game makes use of "paper scissors rock/janken" (which students love!) and has them walking around practicing simple English question and answer dialogue. Works in many different elementary lessons.

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Guess the number is a fun game, useful for practicing numbers one to one hundred. The good thing about this game is it gets the kids to think of the numbers they want to say in English.

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Perfect for the turn left, go straight (directions) English lesson, the maze game is a popular activity. Arrange the desks and have students directing other students through the maze to find their goal.

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The Japanese language has fewer sounds (phonics) than the English language. So while some of the sounds are the same, there are a few that are new and a few that are hard for the Japanese ear to pick up. This game challenges students to listen for the difference in words that sound very similar.

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