Competitive ELT games

From Teflpedia

Competitive ESL games involve some element of competition - usually, though not always between two teams. Some of the shorter ones can also be used as warmers or coolers.

I’m going on a picnic[edit]

Procedure. The teacher begins the game having secretly decided what criteria is needed to be able to go on the picnic too, e.g., each word must contain a double letter etc. S/he says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to take some apples”. The next student continues. The teacher says you can or can’t come depending on whether the sentence agrees with the criteria. Game continues until all students catch on.


Procedure. Match the jumbled letters in one column to find words, e.g. Bob; deed; did; Eve; eye; kayak; level; madam; noon; nun; pup; radar that correspond to clues in the other column. (Tip: write in capitals)

Picture passives[edit]

Objective. Creating and responding to passive questions.

Procedure. The teacher splits the class into three teams and gives six famous pictures each team - for example of well-known buildings or historical events. Before playing, the teams decide on 6 questions in the passive to ask about the pictures, for example, Where was it taken? One team shows one of their photos and asks one of the previously agreed questions. The first of the other two teams to answer gets a point.


Objective. Reading for gist. (Works well as competition in groups)

Procedure. Match columns of quotations with names of famous people.

The W Game[edit]

See main article The W Game

Objective. Practise (by contrasting, when necessary) the pronunciation of words beginning with "w".

Procedure. Each team tries to come up with as many words as possible beginning with "w" and to group them together by vowel sound.

Twenty questions[edit]

Objective. This is a great opportunity for getting students to ask polar questions and, more importantly, practising the correct responses, i.e. Can you eat it? - Yes, you can/No, you can't.

Procedure. This game is played the same way as a well-known panel game in the UK. Each team thinks of an object and says only whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral. The opposing team has to guess what the object is by asking up to twenty questions which can only be answered “yes” or “no” - with the corresponding auxiliary verb.

What’s the rule?[edit]

Procedure. Three students are sent out of the room. The teacher explains the game to the remaining students. The idea is that the three students who have gone out will be told to ask the others questions; the rule is that each person (bar the first) must answer for the previous question, e.g:

“What’s your name? — “yesterday”

“Where were you last night?” — “Miguel”

“How old are you?” — “at the cinema”

If one of the “questioners” thinks s/he knows what the rule is, s/he should join the rest of the students and the game continues until the penny has dropped for all the “questioners”.

Yes/No contest[edit]

Objective. Consideration of polar questions. Use of expressions other than yes/no answers, e.g. Maybe, perhaps, I think so, etc.

Procedure. The students are first put into two teams. Each person in each team makes a list of questions which invite a “yes” or “no” answer. Students from each team take it in turns to be questioned but cannot use “yes” or “no” to answer. Time limit is one minute. Any student who manages to keep going till the end of the time limit wins a point for his/her team.

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