Fun ESL Speaking Game for Children for use in all class sizes

This is the second free game. If you missed the first one, here it is: Blanket Game

Here is an easy, fun speaking game, which you can use with all class sizes, from just a handful of children right up to a large class.  This game also works well with adults. It is ideal for drilling in new vocabulary or grammar, in a fun way of course!

children running relay race to illustrate this classroom grammar game

Relay Race: How to play

Put your class into teams of approximately five players per line. The one at the front has a picture of say, the rain. On your signal, the first player in each line says to number 2 in the line: ‘What’s the weather like?’ Number 2 says ‘It’s raining,’ takes the picture, turns to number 3 in the line and asks ‘What’s the weather like?’ Number 3 says ‘It’s raining,’ takes the picture, turns to number 4 and so on until the picture reaches the end of the line. The idea is for the rain to reach the end of the line as quickly as possible. Once all the pictures are at the bottom of the line the person at the end runs up to the front of the class with them.

idea lightbulb

  • With more than ten people per line pass down two different pictures, one after the other, to keep everyone involved.
  • It is most important the words are properly pronounced and that accuracy is not abandoned for speed. To ensure this, name a referee for each team. This referee must belong to another team so that he or she will referee properly. Swap the refer-ees around, giving this task to your stronger students.
  • Instead of a picture, pass an object down the line, that’s best. It’s more fun for students to see the progress the message is making in tangible form.
  • If this game does not work, you probably need to either simplify the language or drill more with another game first.

Language ideas to use with this game

Adapt this game to any language, from simply naming the item and passing it down to sen-tences with a particular verb tense or structure. Ideas are:

‘I am Shelley and you are Maria.’
Jane continues with ‘I am Maria and you are Ali,’ etc.
Shelley: ‘I love ice cream.’ Maria: ‘She/Shelley loves ice cream and I love chocolate.’
Ali: ‘She/Maria loves chocolate and I love ice cream,’ etc.

Shelley: ‘I like ice cream. What do you like?’
Maria: ‘I like chocolate. What do you like?’
Ali: ‘I like cake. What do you like?’

Very small group version

Here’s a way to play Relay Race with only five children. Let them pass the language down the line once and time them with a stopwatch. Then let them do it again and try to beat their pre-vious time. Or instead of a stopwatch walk across the room from one wall to the other – they have to finish before you reach the other side. The first time, saunter over there. Gradually speed up, but always let them finish before you!

Relay Race advanced variant

This game is beneficial for advanced and older students too, to drill an aspect of language where there are frequent errors. Or give pupils the more challenging task of coming up with their own sentences during the race. For example, hand a picture or word card to the first stu-dent in each team. This student thinks of a sentence with the word in it. The student then passes the card to the next person in the team and this person has to create a different sen-tence. This allows intermediate students to work on speaking skills using a much wider range of language.

If you use this as a fluency game then do not focus on correcting the language during the game. You might note a few errors and go over them on the board afterwards. If doing an accuracy drill, keep language sufficiently simple so that the game is well within the students’ grasp. If doing a fluency activity, errors are inevitable and are to be accepted.

Reading and spelling

Play with sentences instead. For a spelling game the first player has a word flashcard and says that word to the second player, who spells it. If the second player is correct the first player hands the paper over and the second child spells the second word to the third player, who names it, takes the paper and so on.

This is quite challenging so you could play with intermediate players and even teenagers and adults will find this fun.

Tell a friend

This is such an easy and effective game, please feel free to let your teaching buddies and friends know by sharing:



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All the best,
Shelley Vernon
Teaching English Games