English Games and Activites for ALT's

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

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.

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.

Criss-cross or tate-yoko as it is known to most Japanese junior high students is a simple junior high warm-up game where you can avoid questions or may have to answer depending on if you are in the row or column of the person in the spotlight at that moment.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This is a great way for students to practice their fluency using numbers. It's the type of game that once students learn how to play it, you just have to say "Let's play number shiritori!" and students can get started by themselves.

Students walk around drawing things for their friends. First they ask what their talking partner wants, then beat the clock drawing it for them. Lot's of fun and simulates real use of the language.

Guilty is a spin-off of the old board game Clue, with elements of the Nintendo Switch game Fakin' It. Students prepare their own cards then play a game based on bluffing your way through an alibi. It's a bit of a long game with student preparation time but it's so much fun.

Last letter first letter, more commonly known here as shiritori, is a game I am sure we have all played at some point and it makes a great warm up game for junior high classes.

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.

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.

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.

The parachute team challenge is a junior high English class warm up game but can also be used in elementary schools. The winner of each round remove a point from another team and the game ends when one team has no points left.