Best ESL games for adult students and their advantages

Best ESL games for adult students and their advantages

Blog / Tips and tricks

Young learners love playing games in ESL classes. That’s no news. But did you know that adult ESL students like games, too? You certainly won’t play Hangman or dance to Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes with adults, but there is a way to make your class more fun for both you and your student. 

We have included games in most of our lesson plans, each of them serving both educational and entertaining purposes. Here are the most common ones that your adult student will enjoy playing.

Jeopardy/Pick a card

In this game, the student’s task is to pick a card with a question, picture, or a problem and provide what’s asked of them (an answer, description, advice, or solution). What makes this game fun is the moment of gamble-like uncertainty of what they’re going to get when they pick a card. The only difference between Pick a card and Jeopardy is that in Jeopardy, the student gains points after they pick a card and complete the task. 

Association game

This is a guessing game in which the student makes an educated guess based on the hints in order to get to the final word or expression. This game comes in handy when we’re teaching synonyms or word formation, for example.

Make a chain

The student’s task here is to come up with ‘links’ to form and continue the chain based on the first link. Check out an example of this game in our ESL lesson teaching the 2nd conditional If I could, then I would. The chain starts with a condition If I spoke English well… for which the student provides a result and then introduces a new condition resulting from the first sentence. They can do it on and on, until they’re out of ideas.


Not so much a game as a fun activity, this is probably the most frequent speaking exercise, suitable for students of all ages. The student is usually presented with a hypothetical situation which they have to put into a conversation with the help of their teacher or a fellow student.

Through roleplay in Manners matter!, the student practices asking questions politely.
Feel free to share your ideas of fun games and activities for adult ESL students! Maybe we can include them in our plans. 🙂

About Tijana
About Tijana

Tijana is an ESL Teacher, Teacher Trainer, and ESL Content Creator with a decade-long working experience. She designed 600+ lesson plans. Tijana holds a B.A. in Applied Linguistics from UVic, an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from UBC, as well as a 120-hour TEFL certificate.

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