Get your students motivated and joining in, even the shy ones, with this game

adult students motivated and happy
13 Jan SAV 3 Comments

Thank you for coming to this post with a game to get even the shyest students to join in.


First let's hear from Elaine Lovell and hear about her experience with the game. And then lower down you will find a full description of the game from my games book for teens and adults.


"I received your book just last night and read the Introduction at lunchtime (just before entering my ESOL/English class). I was keen to try something from your book because, though I have a reputation for being creative as a maths and music teacher, I have never had the responsibility of teaching English before and needed inspiration! I only took on the role of teaching English a couple of months ago and could not get my head around creating the atmosphere I normally encourage.


Just from using your Introduction, where you briefly mention some of the activities and where and why they would be useful or appropriate, I undertook a version of your suggestion of verbally spelling words out for students to work out the word. I did it with two teams, started with the Dolch list (the 220 most common words) and progressed quickly, by student request, to speeding up the reading of the letters and then by making the words harder/longer.


You were right – a very quiet student even took part by blurting out the word for his small team on two occasions! – this from a student that normally never speaks! My class was alive with cheering, clapping and counting points, and I felt great! Your book is my missing inspiration catalyst – thank you, thank you, thank you." Elaine Lovell, offender learning teacher in the UK.


Thanks Elaine for sharing your feedback, it gives teachers inspiration to use games in the classroom. For the book please see this page:


Spell and Speak from ESL Classroom Activities for Teens and Adults

Put players into teams and spell out a word such as ‘l-i-g-h-t’ or ‘b-o-u-g-h-t’. As soon as a student has identified the word, he or she knocks on his or her desk and gives you the answer, gaining points if correct. With more advanced players this is quite a good game to highlight certain words, such as ‘bow’, which can be pronounced in two different ways, with different meanings, and which can be a noun and a verb. Use this game to draw attention to words that have silent letters (as in light and bought) or that sound the same but have different spellings (such as whine and wine, heel and heal, flour and flower whether and weather, or that rhyme but have different spelling patters, such as den and when, graph and staff), or words that are frequently misspelled (recom-mend, apartment, principle/principal, practice/practise or exercise).


Give a homework assignment where each person prepares a list of three words that he or she thinks are difficult to spell. Divide into teams and play Spell and Speak, each team selecting its own words. Each team member takes a turn at saying a word for the other team to spell. Award a point to the teams for correct spelling. Team members write words on the board simultaneously, which you check as you go along. With small groups, students can spell words out loud rather than writing them down, which is harder.


Advanced students will get more out of the game if you tell them to prepare a list of words for homework. Give them some examples of good words to use, such as words with silent letters or strange spellings.


With business students, include useful and frequently misspelled words such as recommend, necessary, amendment, fulfil, referral and unnecessary. Note that spellings may vary between North America and the rest of the world. Fulfil is UK spelling, whereas Fulfill is American.


Order the book from here:

Or find it on Amazon from here:


Hi teachers, even if a game seems odd to you, do try it out. You never know how a game is going to go until you try it. Mirjana Vujatovic told me today by email: 'Last week I read your blog and came across the activity “Spell and Speak”. I immediately decided to try it with my intermediate medical English students. It turned out to be a great success. Thank you! I will certainly use your book a lot.'
I bought the book, ESL Classroom Activities for Teens & Adults at Amazon but have not been able to download the blank templates. Can you tell me how to do that if they are still available?
Dear Bonnie, Thanks for your comment and book order. Yes I'll be delighted to send them to you. I'm emailing you now on your email with "geo" in it. If ever my email doesn't reach you, you can email me via my contact page - see tab on menu above. Speak soon! Kind regards Shelley Ann Vernon

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