Vocabulary Review Board Game (EFL/ESL Activity)

Vocabulary Review Board Game for EFL/ESL Class

Board Game for Reviewing Vocabulary

Basic Idea: Create a simple board game with vocabulary cards. Each card is a square, or piece, of the board. When a player lands on a card, he/she turns it over, revealing the vocabulary item. The player must then make a (perfect) sentence with the vocabulary item. If the player fails, he/she must go back to his/her originating square. The player who reaches the end first wins.

Strengths:  fun + facilitates vocabulary review

No. of Students: 2-4 per board

Levels: Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Upper-Intermediate, Advanced

I have used this vocabulary review activity with adult conversation groups. I believe they find review games a refreshing break from our weekly topic-based conversation classes. Although the idea of a playing a board game in an adult ESL class may not sound like an optimal use of class time, games can be effective review tools. In this game, students can show you what they have learned and concentrate on making well-formed sentences with recently studied vocabulary.

Vocabulary Review Board Game Preparation:

Select 20-40 vocabulary items that you’d like to review. This list can include words (e.g. “suggest”) and grammar items (eg. “second conditional”). Next, think about how you want to make a simple board game with the items. There are two ways:

> The Digital Method: If you have time and prefer using a computer, you can download board game templates from several sites (for example: here’s a snakes & ladders template and a blank board game template). Or you could make a template in Word or Excel.

> The Analog Method: This is the method I prefer. I print out the vocabulary list and then cut them into cards (or you could just write them out). I create some additional cards such as “Lose a Turn”, “Go Again”, “Switch!”, etc. I put the cards in an envelope and head to class.

Vocabulary Review Board Game Execution:

  • Have your students help you lay the vocabulary cards face down on the table.
  • Arrange the vocabulary cards into a board in whatever way you want. Obviously, there should be a start and finish. You can create warp zones (represented by the black string below), or whatever you’d like. Get creative.
  • Instead of using a die, I recommend a coin (heads = move 1 space, tails = 2). That way, most of the vocabulary items will get reviewed instead of skipped over.
  • Have your students start and work their way across the vocabulary board.

You can play the game any way you want. I have students make a perfect sentence with the word on the card. If they fail, I correct their sentence, get them to repeat it, and then make them go back to the originating square. The next time they land on the card, hopefully, they can fix their mistake.

Have fun with it and modify the rules as you’d like.

This is an example of a vocabulary review board game. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

vocabulary review game image

black string = warp zone

– Matthew Barton / English Current

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