Language Games




Higher intermediate

  1. Word Prompts
  2. Kim's game (longer & longer lists)
  3. Guessing nouns via "Is it + adjective" questions
  4. Market trader: guess the connection (I can sell + LIST)
  5. Comparisons: How is XXX like YYY?
  6. BLIP (sometimes known as COFFEE POT) Guess the verb
  7. Guess the ADVERB
  8. The Preposition Game
  9. Classroom observation
  10. Simon says (Action verbs + Parts of the body)
  12. Find your partner (Stick self adhesive labels to Ss' backs)
  13. What's my nationality? Who am I?
  14. What's my job? (from open lists) Guessing games (closed lists)
  15. The Airline HELP desk - miming
  16. The Yes/No Game (from Michael Miles: "Take Your Pick")
  17. Word in edgeways (Conversation game)
  18. Consequences (Paper & Pencil game)
  19. CHARADES: book / play / song / film / musical
  20. 20 Questions: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral (Abstract with V connections)


Word Prompts

Team A

Team B

Students from Team (B) have to guess the words on your LIST. Before each guess, say a word which will help Team (B) to guess correctly. But DO NOT SAY THE WORD ON YOUR LIST.

Students from Team (A) have to guess the words on your LIST. Before each guess, say a word which will help Team (A) to guess correctly. But DO NOT SAY THE WORD ON YOUR LIST.

YOUR LIST (Team B must guess)

YOUR LIST (Team A must guess)

A1 horse

B1 car

A2 window

B2 Big Ben

A3 elephant

B3 cup

A4 England

B4 floor

A5 teacher

B5 kangaroo

A6 London

B6 lemon

A7 river

B7 Russia

A8 book

B8 ice cream

A9 Margaret Thatcher

B9 Micky Mouse

A10 karate

B10 bath


Kim's game (longer & longer lists) see Rudyard Kipling for origin of game

In my [pocket] [shopping bag] [house] [garden] [country] [dream], there is / are / was /were

(The teacher imposes the necessary restrictions according to the vocabulary area)

I packed my bag and in it I put:

an X (longer & longer list)

an X and some Ys.

an X, some Ys, a Z, an ___ and some _____s

(As you go round the class each student has to recite the existing list and add an item in the same category).


Guessing nouns via "Is it + adjective" questions

Guessing Games: Vocabulary. Questions with ADJECTIVES

Group A

Questions to ask opposing team(s)

1. chair

Ask YES/NO questions:

2. bus

Is it big / round /square / rectangular?

3. head

Is there one in this room?

4. bicycle

Can we eat it?

5. computer

Is it made of wood / plastic / metal?

6. chocolate

Ask your own questions

Group B

Questions to ask opposing team(s)

1. tree

Ask YES/NO questions:

2. shoe

Is it small/yellow/light/dark/circular?

3. tea

Have you one in your house / country?

4. knife

Do you like it?

5. finger

Is it used every day?

6. button

Ask your own questions

Group C

Questions to ask opposing team(s)

1. bra

Ask YES/NO questions:

2. pen

Is it larger than a chair?

3. mouse

Can I see one now?

4. coffee

Do you find it indoors or outdoors?

5. jumbo jet

Are there a lot of them in this school?

6. mobile phone

Ask your own questions:

Group D

Questions to ask opposing team(s)

1. cat

Ask YES/NO questions:

2. house

Is it hard / soft / high / tall / low ?

3. gate

Is it liquid or solid?

4. guitar

Do I see one every day?

5. sugar

Have you got one in your house / with you?

6. washing machine

Ask your own questions:


Market trader: guess the connection (I can sell + LIST)

Ss: I'm a market trader and I can sell (camcorders) (compact disks) (televisions).

T: That's right. You can.

Ss: I'm a market trader and I can sell (steam engines) (saucepans) (guitars)

T: No you can't.

CONNECTION: Invented after 1900.

Other possible restrictions

1. objects must begin with the same letter as the S's first name.

2. objects must begin with the same letter as the first name of S on the right of speaker.

3. must be in the room

4. must be made of special material / must include wood or metal

5. must be objects you can grow.


Each student has a turn of saying "I'm a market trader and I can sell...."

The person who knows the connection (T or S) gives feedback (Yes, you can or No, you can't.

The students must guess the connection. Either call it out or write it down after a reasonable number of examples have been given.


Comparisons: How is XXX like YYY?

Finding Connections (Word Fields and Adjective Comparisons

Group A

How is XXX like YYY?


How does XXX differ from YYY?





1. milk


3. café


2. computer


4. umbrella


Group B

How is XXX like YYY?


How does XXX differ from YYY?





1. kettle


3. doctor


2. moustache


4. cooker


Group C

How is XXX like YYY?


How does XXX differ from YYY?





1. horse


3. beer


2. sock


4. wristwatch


Group D

How is XXX like YYY?


How does XXX differ from YYY?





1. ice


3. dictionary


2. chemist


4. record

compact disk


BLIP (sometimes known as COFFEE POT) Guess the verb

Each student is given a VERB. (See that it is suitable for the level of the class).

In pairs or as a whole class, discover the VERB through QUESTIONS.

The nonsense word "BLIP" should be substituted for the target VERB.

Write sample QUESTIONS on the board

When / Where / Why / How do you blip?

Can you blip someone / something / somewhere?

Do you often blip?

Did you blip yesterday?

Are you blipping now?

Are you going to blip this weekend?

Have you blipped since you arrived in England?

Do you like blipping?

Do you blip with your hands?

If I saw you blipping, would you be embarrassed?

The aim of the game is not to guess the meaning of the word "Blip" straight away. When you think you know the meaning of the word "Blip", you could ask further questions which make the meaning of the word "Blip" clear to the rest of the class or which amuse the student who is answering the questions.

Sample Verbs




















































Guess the ADVERB

One student goes out of the room. The rest of the class think of an adverb or the teacher selects one and writes it on the board for everybody to see. It is rubbed off the board before the student outside returns.

The returned student asks a variety of questions to different students. They all answer in the manner suggested by the adverb.

Alternatively, the returned student can ask members of the class to do things. They then have to perform the actions in the manner suggested by the adverb.

After hearing a sample of answers or observing a sample of actions performed by different students, the student who originally left the classroom is then asked to guess the adverb.



























The Preposition Game

The teacher thinks of a room of a house and a hiding-place in which to hide an object.

(1) I've hidden YOUR BIRTHDAY PRESENT and today is YOUR BIRTHDAY!

Ss: Have you put it __________________________?

(2) I hid my mother's Christmas present LAST CHRISTMAS!

Ss: Did you put it ____________________________?

(3) I'm going to hide my brother's Christmas present NEXT CHRISTMAS!

Ss: Are you going to put it ________________________?

(4) EVERY CHRISTMAS, my uncle hides my present!

Ss: Does he put it ________________________________?

Practise different tenses. A student can choose a hiding-place and the rest of the class can ask the questions. Alternatively, students can work in pairs.


Classroom observation


Seat TWO students at the front of the class facing the white/black board with the other students looking on. The two students are both given a chance to answer each question and they are awarded points for correct answers.

Sample Questions

1. How many windows / tables / chairs / students are there?

2. What are their names?

3. Who is sitting next to Z / between X and Y / opposite X / on the left / on the right?

4. What is (s)he wearing? / What colour is Z's shirt.

Alternatively, seat students in pairs back to back and issue them with a checklist of vocabulary for describing physical appearance and clothing:

Height tall/short

Build well-built

Age middle-aged

Hair style curly

Hair length long

Eyes large-eyed

Shape of head oval

Complexion fresh

Article of clothing




shirt / skirt etc

dark green

plain /checked

light blue

Ask them to describe each other using suitable words from each category.


I spy with my little eye - something beginning with + letter ABC

The objects sighted must be in view of all the students in the classroom.


Simon says (Action verbs + Parts of the body)

Students should only obey the commands if you preface each one with Simon says. If you omit the preface Simon says any student who obeys the command can no longer participate in the game. The last student to remain in the game is the winner.

Simon says: "hands up", "hands down", "thumbs up", "thunbs down", "fingers up", "fingers down".

Simon says: "touch your eyes / ears / nose / mouth with the forefinger / middle finger / ring finger / little finger / of your (right)(left) hand.

Simon says: "put your right hand / left hand / both hands on your right / left knee."

Simon says: "shut / open your eyes", "stand up / sit down", "stand on your right / left leg".

Simon says: "bend your knees / body", "straighten your knees / body".

Simon says: "fold your arms", "put your arms by your side".

Simon says: "wave your right hand", "STOP", "jump up and down", "STOP".

Simon says: "point at the ceiling / floor with the forefinger/ middle finger / ring finger / little finger / of your right / left hand.




Each student tries to write a telegram (or short e-mail message!) using the letters of their name as the initial letters of the words e.g. TED = Treasure Every Day.

Place-names can also be used:

LONDON: Living On Nothing Drives One Nuts.

ENGLAND: Every Nice Girl Loves A Non-alcoholic Drink.

TOKYO: Thinking Of Kissing Yoko Ono.

JAPAN: Jokes About Politicians Are Normal.

STOCKHOLM: Sexy Toyoto Owners Can Kiss Happily On London Motorways

SWEDEN: Sociable Women Eat Doughnuts Every Night


As an alternative to a straight spelling test, the words can be given with jumbled letters:









This is a popular game. It is very useful at low levels and the words which students have to guess can be restricted to areas of vocabulary (i.e. themes or semantic sets) or new words introduced in a particular lesson.


Find your partner (Stick self adhesive labels to Ss' backs)

The teacher prepares SELF-ADHESIVE TYPEWRITER ADDRESS LABELS ( which can be purchased in rolls to stick on the backs of all the students in the class.

Each label contains a real person's name or the name of a character from fiction or television cartoons. Each named person should have a natural partner, for example if you write a label with the name ROMEO, there should also be a label with the name JULIET stuck on somebody's back. If you have an odd number of students in your class, stick a label on your own back, but let the students do the questioning.

Questions must be of the type that can either be answered with YES or No:

Am I man or a woman? Alive or dead? European or American? Real or fictitious?

Am I a character from a cartoon or a book? Am I rich? Am I famous?

Have I been in the news recently? Am I someone from your country? Britain?

Do I work in sport / music / entertainment / the cinema / the theatre?



TOM the cat

JERRY the mouse



Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth II

Micky Mouse

Minnie Mouse

Stan Laurel

Oliver Hardy

King Juan Carlos

Queen Sofia

André Agassi

Steffi Graff

Nelson Mandella

Winnie Mandella

John Lennon

Yoko Ono

Richard Burton

Elizabeth Taylor

Bonnie (gangster)

Clyde (gangster)


Jane (jungle girl)

The Lone Ranger

Tonto (cowboy)

Prince Charles

Princess Diana


Prince Charming


What's my nationality? Who am I?

Student (A) thinks of a nationality

Student (B) asks:

"Do you wear______________?"

"Do you drink / eat _________ ?"

"Do you play (sport) or (game)?"

"Do you play the (musical instrument)?"

"Does it rain / snow a lot there?"

"Is it very hot / very cold there?"

"Do the people like ______ there?"

"Are the people there tall / short / romantic / hard-working / rich / poor?

Student (A) thinks of a famous person, fictitious character or cartoon character?

Student (B) asks YES/NO questions as in 12. Find Your Partner.


What's my job? (from open lists) Guessing games (closed lists)

Questions for those guessing

Do you work indoors or outdoors? / in a trade or profession? / in a factory or an office?

Do you work with your hands? Do you wear a uniform? Do you work long hours?

Do you work from 9-5? Do you work regular hours? Do you work at weekends?

Do you work with people or machines? Are you in a service industry?

Do you sell something? Do you earn a lot of money? Must you have good qualifications to do your job?



1. police officer

2. nurse

3. farmer

4. shopkeeper

5. scientist

6. artist

7. princess

8. dressmaker

9. civil engineer

10. bricklayer

11. caretaker

12. accountant


1. singer

2. cook

3. secretary

4. student

5. driver

6. engineer

7. president

8. painter

9. chiropodist

10. fishmonger

11. receptionist

12. mathematician


1. actor

2. teacher

3. manager

4. soldier

5. gardener

6. musician

7. writer

8. chemist

9. social worker

10. surgeon

11. bee-keeper

12. newsagent


1. doctor

2. housewife

3. baker

4. pilot

5. factory worker

6. cowboy

7. builder

8. dentist

9. solicitor

10. secret agent

11. dustman

12. air-hostess


Miming lists of jobs: A & B teams

Student A chooses ONE of the jobs in Groups 1 and 2 above.

Student B chooses ONE of the jops in Groups 3 and 4 above.

The students have to mime their jobs so their partners can guess what they are.


The Airline HELP desk - miming

Write a role card for each student in the class giving them a problem which could occur in an airport. Each student has to mime their problem. The class try to guess the problem by asking questions, but the student with the problem is not permitted to speak. They can only signal YES or NO.

This is a good game for teaching vocabulary in a memorable context. The stranger the problem, the more probable it is that the words will become part of the class's active vocabulary.

Example of a problem:

My wife's gone through passport control with my boarding card. She is wearing a long red coat and is carrying a rolling pin. Can you find her?

A pigeon has flown into the Food Hall and is eating the fruit cake.

The game is especially good for supplying the right formulae in difficult situations where languages may be a problem:

The Airline HELP desk can be moved to another environment e.g. a language school, a hospital or a hotel (See CUP Maley & Duff's hotel receptionist).


The Yes/No Game (from Michael Miles: "Take Your Pick")

Different students volunteer to be asked questions. They must avoid saying the words "YES" or "NO" for a given period of time e.g. 1-2 minutes.

This is done by using expressions like: "I do", "I am", "that's true", "that isn't true",

"that's not correct", "exactly", "precisely", "that's right", "that's correct", "I think so",

"probably", "possibly", "usually".

The questioners can try to trap them through deliberate misunderstanding and

echo questions: "Did you say usually? So you said you live in Stuttgart? Perhaps?


Do you come from Australia? Are you sure you don't?

Are you single or married? So you're divorced. You're not interested in marriage?

Do you like English food? So you LOVE English food. You think it's the best in the world?

Have you been to Florence? So you haven't been to Italy?

Which is more important - health or money? You said "health"?

How many brothers and sisters do you have? Fifteen?

Would you like a million pounds? So you're not interested in money?

Are you more intelligent than your parents? So you're less intelligent?

Did you say you were stupid?

Do you like your teacher? Is he / she the best teacher you've ever had?

The best in the world?

What are your hobbies? So you like listening to folk music?

Can you use a computer / play the piano? You can?


Word in edgeways (Conversation game)

Students work in pairs. Each partner is given a strip of paper with an unusual sentence written on it. They keep this concealed. If possible they try to learn the sentence off by heart.

Then they start conversing about any subject, but their real object is to get their given sentence into the conversation without their partner realising and before their partner is able to do the same. To do this successfully they have to move the topic of conversation towards a context in which their sentence could naturally occur.

Sample sentences for strips:

1. The farmer was carrying a yellow guitar.

2. Elvis Presley was waiting on Brighton Station

3.The bottles were full of green milk.

4. She kissed him on the nose and went to bed.

5. The French student wrote twenty love letters.

6. The policeman was dressed in pink shoes and a bow-tie

7. The plane landed on the roof of Buckingham Palace.

8. The beauty queen made me a cup of tea.

9. The fly took off again and landed on my pillow.

10 The dog slipped on the banana skin and broke its leg.

11. The water was so deep that the child had to call for help.

12. The king was glad that nobody wanted his autograph.

To win the game, you have to continue speaking for a while after getting your sentence into the conversation without being correctly challenged. You can also win by correctly challenging your partner as soon as you think they are reciting their sentence. If your challenge is wrong, you lose the game. It is therefore good strategy to set traps for your partner by including strange sentences in the conversation which differ from your given sentence.


Consequences (Paper & Pencil game)

Each student is given an A4 sheet of paper with some fields to fill in. They only fill in ONE field in order (from the top to the bottom) and fold the sheet over to the next continuous line _____________________________________________________ to hide what they have written. They then pass the paper on to the next student who fills in the next field and fold the paper over to the next line before handing the sheet to the third student. This continues until all the fields are hidden. The paper is then passed on once again. Each paper will contain an amusing story (sequence of events). This is read aloud by the student. If the student's reading is poor, then the teacher should read the story out again using correct intonation and stress to bring out the humour.

Name of a man famous or one in your class _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _



Name of a woman famous or one in your class _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


at / in / on

Name of a Place _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _


He said to her

"_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ "


She said to him

" _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"


Consequence _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _



CHARADES: book / play / song / film / musical

One or two students agree on the title of a song, a book, a play, a musical, a TV programme or a film (Note that films are often given different titles in different countries). They then tell the class how many words there are in the title. If any definite or indefinite articles occur in the title, the students must tell the class where they occur in the title. They must also say whether the title is from a song, a book, a play, a musical, a TV programme or a film. They must not say the name of the title.

EXAMPLES (If the students are at a lower level, you can give them the titles)

Fatal Attraction (2 words) (The title is from a film)

Cats (1 word) (The title is from a musical)

Gone With The Wind (4 words: the 3rd word is the definite article) (It's from a film)

Red is the colour (4 words: 3rd word is the definite article - a song)

Starlight Express (2 words) (It's from a musical)

Chess (1 word) (It's from a musical)

I wanna hold you hand (5 words. 2nd word is slang made up from 2 words: a song)

Blowing in the Wind (4 words: the 3rd word is the definite article) (It's from a song)

My Bonnie lies over the ocean (6 words: the 5th word is the definite article - a song)

Imagine (1 word) (It's from a song)

Les Miserables (2 words including the French definite article) (It's from a musical)

Octopussy (1 word) (It's from a film)

From Russia with Love (4 words. It's from a film)

Oliver Twist (2 words) (It's from a book)

Paperback writer (2 words - a song)

EastEnders (1 word with a capital letter in the middle) (It's from a TV program)

Tom and Jerry (3 words - a TV programme)

Popeye the Sailorman (3 words: 2nd word is the definite article - a TV programme)

Neighbours (1 word) (It's from a TV program)

Romeo and Juliet (3 words) (It's from a play)

A Midsummer Night's Dream (4 words: the 1st word is the indefinite article) (a play)

The students who have thought up the title then have to mime it. They can point to any REALIA (e.g. maps on the wall) in the classroom. If the game is proving too difficult for everybody, allow the mimers to sketch on the board or make animal noises, but THEY MUST NOT WRITE or give away any of the words in the title.

The other members of the class have to guess the title. You can set a time limit or limit the number of guesses. The game is one of co-operation between the students who are miming and those who are guessing. A quick result points either to an easy title to mime or good paralinguistic communication skills.

Some students like to mime every word in the title in consecutive order; others mime whole situations which point to the full title.


20 Questions: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral (Abstract with V connections)

A student thinks of any object, substance, animal, person or abstract noun and declares whether it is animal, vegetable, mineral or abstract ("love" would be declared as abstract with animal connections) (People count as animal!)

Phrases which identify a well-known object such as uncle Tom's cabin are permitted.

The other students are limited to 20 questions. If they cannot guess the word(s) within the allotted number of questions, then they lose the game. This is a competitive game. The class can compete against the teacher, taking equal numbers of turns at selecting the object or asking the questions, and the TEACHER and STUDENT scores can be recorded on the board. Teachers should adjust the level of difficulty when it is their turn to select objects to make a fairly equal contest.

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