to Ernie's activity page

Hi. I'm an EFL teacher and I enjoy creating activities for my classes.

Below you find some activities, none of them really original, which were part of a lecture I gave here in Fortaleza Brazil. I'll soon include some activities with songs.

Some of them can be found at Dave's ESL cafe.

Why use activities and games in the foreign language classroom? First of all, they enhance language learning in a way that students don’t really feel that they are really studying; it is learning through fun!

And who doesn’t enjoy having fun for a change? Or would you rather sit in class, bored as you could ever be, trying to learn something in the dullest way possible? So, let’s try some of the games that I know:

TIC TAC TOE (For Beginning to Intermediate Level Students)

All you need for this game is a chalkboard, and a list of vocabulary. Draw a nine square grid on the board and fill each box with one word. Divide the class in half, and designate one half as -x- and the other half as -o-. The students on each team collaborate in coming up with grammatical sentences using the vocabulary. When they use a word in a correct sentence, mark either x or o over the word. Three in a row wins! This game is good to review general vocabulary, parts of speech, and verb form, without ever tiring the students.

STOP (For All Levels)

This is a simple vocabulary game that can be played with two levels of difficulty depending on the level of your students. In the easy version, draw five columns on a chalk board. Assign each column a letter from the alphabet and shout Go! The first student to fill in all the columns with a word that begins with the letter of each column shouts, STOP! You can go through the whole alphabet like this and also use common two letter word beginnings like ex, sh, sp, ch, etc.... In the more difficult version, assign each of the five columns a general catergory like food, clothing, emotions, office items, things in the house, etc.... You then call out a letter from the alphabet. Students have to fill each column with a vocabulary word that begins with the letter and pertains to the category


This is a traditional but fun game to play: one student is sent out of the class and the remaining students choose a simple verb (e.g. "walk". "eat", "dance" , etc) . The student that is outside then returns and has to find out which is the "mystery" verb by asking yes-no questions to the other students. The word "coffeepot "is provided to substitite the verb. The student then asks:"Do you coffeepot every day?" ; "Do you coffeepot with your legs? " until he / she finds out which is the mystery verb.


Students stand up in a circle around the teacher. A ball is tossed to a student and the teacher asks a question, e.g.: "Say a color". The student then responds and throws the ball back to the teacher.The teacher then throws the ball to another student and asks another question. For higher levels, you can ask such questions like "Give me the past participle of an irregular verb". This is a fast game, and it is great for reviewing vocabulary.


This is actually a variation from the Ball Game.The last letter of the word must be the first letter of the next word. You will need a ball, but a screwed up piece of paper is fine. The teacher throws the ball to one student and says a word, such as "dog". The student must reply with a word starting with "G," such as "girl". When answered, the ball is thrown back to the teacher and it is then thrown to the next student, who continues. The sequence may then be (for example): girl, look, king, go, octopus, student ... and so on. You can have the students throwing to each other. i.e., student A = "Cat," throw to student B = "Today," throw to student C = "Yes," etc. Please be warned, you may have some fastball pitchers in the class!


The teacher starts the game by saying a word, such as "Hotel". For example: Teacher: Hotel Student A: Bed Student B: Room Student C: Service Student D: Food Student E: Restaurant Student F: Chinese As you can see, any association is ok. If the student can't answer (5 second limit) he or she must stand up. The last student seated is the winner. If the association is not obvious, the student is asked to explain the association.


: She saw shy sheep.

: Rubber baby buggy bumpers.

: How much wood would a wood chuck chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

: Moses supposes his toeses are roses,/But Moses supposes erroneously./For Moses he knowses his toeses aren't roses,/Like Moses supposes his toeses to be.

: The Leith police dismisseth us, which causeth us dismay.

: A fly and a flea in a flue,/Were caught. So what did they do?/Said the fly, "Let us flee!"/Said the flea, "Let us fly!"/So they flew through a flaw in the flue. ]

: This snail is stale./It's tail is stale./And this is stale tale.

: " Betty Botta bought some butter./"oh," she said, "this butter's bitter!/If I use this bitter butter/It will make my batter bitter./I need a bit of better butter/ Just to make my batter better."/ Betty bought a bit of better butter./ Now Betty's batter isn't bitter.

: Round the rugged rock the ragged rascal ran.

: This isn't really a tongue twister, but it makes an excellent example of the ambiguities, and humor of the English language:Time flys./You can't./They fly too fast.

Roger Rocket ran around the river and rented a raft to ride on.

Phineas Foster fishes for fat flounder. Veronica Victor vowed to view the vanity.

Minnie Mouse makes many mashmallows for Mickey Mouse to munch on.

Which noise annoys an oyster most? A noisy noise annoys an oyster most.

WHAT’S BEHIND YOU? (Memory Game)

Tell the class not to turn round. Ask them what they think is behind them. They might list other people in the class, furniture, pictures on the walls, etc. Ask for descriptions for the things they mention. The teacher may also ask what the learners can remember of the street outside the school, e.g.: Teacher: Think about the street outside the school. What can you remember? Student: There are some trees... Teacher: Are there trees on both sides of the street? ... In a variation of this game, a student is asked to close his eyes and describe his neighbor’s appearance .


Preparation: Make up a "bingo" sheet with personal questions such as "have you traveled outside your country?": Give one to each student. Procedure: Distribute the Bingo sheets and introduce the game. Tell students to move around the room and ask the people the questions in the sheet. When someone answers "yes", the sthudent writes that person’s name in the appropriate box. When a student gets five names - across, down or diagonally - the student calls out "Bingo". The first three students are winners Aim: to get students to mingle with other students and talk to them.


Choose a tune with a steady beat that is not too fast. Be creative, make up your moves as you go. Following is a list of some basic exercises that people seem to enjoy

Ø Arm Lifts

Ø Push ups

Ø Trunk Twisters

Ø Forehead Press

Ø Sit ups

Ø Jumping Jacks

Ø Leg And Arm Jacks


Make a set of cards, with actions that can be represented in gestures, such as Riding a bicycle, Playing basketball, Walking a dog, etc. Call a student and show him / her one of the gesture cards. The student then gestures, and the rest of the class has to find out which gesture the student is performing


Get a few blank adhesive tags, and write random nouns on them. Then have the students stand up. Paste a tag on the forehead of each student. They have to walk around the class asking yes/no questions until they find out which noun they have on their foreheads. A variation of this game would be using names of famous people.

CRAZY STORY(Internediate to advanced levels)

Give a sheet of paper to each student.Tell them to start a story . You can start it yourself, with "Once upon a time..." and have them continue. After a few minutes, tell students to give the sheet to the student on the left and continue his/her partner's story. Repeat the procedure about four times and ask the students to finish it. You'll be surprised with the results


Hewitt, I. E. EDUTAINMENT- HOW TO TEACH LANGUAGE WITH FUN AND GAMES Language Direct, Australia, 1996

Wright, A and others - GAMES FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING Cambridge University Press, London, 1979

Bohart , Janet - GIVE ‘EM A BREAK - handout

Visit my main page where you will find links to other EFL-related page plus music and art. There you will also find a link to my music activites page and my guestbook, which I invite you to sign.

I have started to present lectures on EFL activities on a limited basis. Please e-mail me if you are interested.

Other Places to go:

TEFL PITSTOP Free Materials for Language Teachers