Teach vocabulary fast with this easy game

teaching vocabulary game with kids

Teach new vocabulary fast with this fantastic game for beginners.

This vocabulary game is so easy to do and needs no preparation. Play in small groups of 15 students, and, if you have a bigger class, split it into two or three groups. Use this game for:

– new vocabulary

– vocabulary revision

– getting rid of inhibitions, even shy students can join in with this one.

Game set up

Circle set up: Ideally, have children sit in a circle with one pupil in the middle. The child in the centre calls out someone’s name three times, for example, ‘Maria, Maria, Maria!’ Maria must react and say her name quickly before the child in the middle has finished repeating it three times. First, use the game with names and then with vocabulary. This game is also helpful with a new class where children do not know each other.

Classroom set up: If you have a cramped classroom, play with students at their desks. Place five children at the front, each with a word. These five take turns to say their word while the class members try to interject before the three repetitions are up. This way, kids can see the faces of those speaking, which is easier than having no visual clues. Bring five kids at a time to the front to keep the pace up. If you switch kids over one by one, this game will be a drag.

How to play

Once the children know the game, use it for vocabulary. First, hand out flashcards. Pupils hold their cards so the child in the middle can see them. Then, play as above. A pupil repeats one of the words three times, and anyone with that picture must quickly hold it up or say the word before the three repetitions are finished.

If the children do not know all the words, then the teacher can go in the middle.


If the same students jump in time and again:

– Put them in a group together and let them work together as a “fast” group in the future.

– Alternatively, tell them that they cannot win every time and must play every other turn.

– Other options are to make them judges, have them keep score, or be in charge of a group.

Fun resources to teach vocabulary fast

This game is taken from Fun ESL Games for Preschool, available in instant download and paperback. For kids ages 6-12, this book is best: ESL Games, 176 English Language Games for Children. Finally, if teaching online, then my ESL Online Games book is the one you need.

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