I teach both adults and children here in Thailand and in every class I try and play at least one game. Below are my favorite five games which you could try with your students here in Thailand or anywhere really!
1. From small to big
I use this game to help students with animal vocabulary but you could use it with other categories such as countries or items in the house. Most of my classes have fewer than ten students so I do this as a whole class game.
Students have to stand or sit in a circle and take it in turns to name animals starting with the smallest one they know until the biggest. I normally elicit ant and whale as the smallest and biggest to help them out. If they start with ant they could progress something like:
I use my hands to show the size of the animals to help them imagine which animal is slightly bigger than the previous one. I also tell students that they can’t help each other. Also they can't say small dog, medium dog and big dog, I just take the adult size of an animal. I will normally set them a target, usually 20, to see if they know enough animals in ascending size order. You can set a time limit too if you wish.
If you have a large class you can get them to work in small groups of three or four and write down their list of animals on paper for you to check after.
2. Word train
A really popular game suitable for students of all ages and abilities. Students have to make new words using the last letters of the previous word.
For example in the word “apple” students could use the “e” to make the word “egg” then they could use the “g” from egg to make “green” next they would use the “n” etc…
To score more points they can use the last two, three or four letters of a word.
For example in the word “apple” they could use “le” to make “lend” they could then use “end” to make “ending” etc….
You can set time limits, set target points and even have multiple groups battling each other to win.
3. Yes / No Game
This is a great game to use with kids and can be used in many ways.
The idea is that you will ask a questions and the students have to stand on one side of the room if the answer is “yes” and the other side of the room if the answer is “no”.
With young or low level learners it is great for concept checking. You can ask questions like “Is today Monday?” or “Are you from Mexico?” and see if students understand the language point you are teaching.
You can use it with more advanced students by adding a debate section afterwards. For example maybe the question is “Should we tax unhealthy snacks more?” students on opposite sides have two minutes to defend their opinion.
With children, put rules in places to stop them from running, pushing or shouting as they will likely try to do all three!
4. Describe the word
This game is more suitable for adults and is a good way to help them with vocabulary.
Split your class into groups of three to five students. One student from each group then comes to the front of the classroom. You need to write a word onto a piece of paper and make sure the students at the front see and understand it. They then have to describe it to their team without saying the word.
To explain how to play I say the following to the students :
“For example if the word is pizza you could say -
It’s a food
It’s from Italy
It’s a circle shape
It’s got cheese and tomato”
Each student does three words before getting a different member of the team to come to the front and try. The first team to get the correct answer wins a point. The first team to five/ten/twenty points is the winner.
5. Make Words
Suitable for all ages and levels. Make a 3 x 3 square of nine letters and students have to use them to make as many words as possible. I usually set a three or four minute time limit. Make sure you have a mixture of vowels and consonants. If they are more advanced students give them less common letters.
I usually do something like this for kids or low level students:
S T B
R A E
I M H
From the table above students could make words such as:
You can decide if students are allowed to use each letter more than once or if plurals are permitted.
Using games with Thai students
Thai students of all ages love games. Even adult learners with serious jobs can really get into games. I also love them too because they are a fun thing to add to a class and you can make them relevant at the same time. Let me know if you’ve used these before or what games you like in the comments section below.
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