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Using Board Games 
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post Using Board Games
Listen to the show.

This week’s show is on using board games off the shelf. Ron and Mark offer some suggestions for how you can use board games in ESL classes and as communicative activities.

We cover:

* games that are ready to go right of the shelf, like Scrabble, Pictionary, …
* games you need to tweak a little, like UNO, Jenga, …
* games you can use with a bit of imagination, like Monopoly, …

There are about 10+ game ideas you can use in your language classes.

If you have some ideas for using board games, let us know. We’d definitely like to hear about a few more ideas. Post them here at the ESL Teacher Talk forums. Ask questions or leave comments about the show.

Thanks for listening!

Game of the Week: Simon Sheep

A fun group game to get students up and moving. It’s great for practicing body parts, numbers, and it can be used to quickly get large classes into groups. A quick fun game!

some downloadable games mentioned in the show: English Tycoon and UnScramble It!

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:48 am
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Post Web page on games for ESL classes
I LOVE using boardgames in my college/adult ESL classes. Please check out my "geeklist" on the ten games I currently use. Here's the link:

I'll list the games by namer here but I give more info on the geeklist page, and you can get lots more information at the main site:

Anyways, here's the list (in no particular order):

Say What
Apples to Apples (more on that on my next email)
Wits and Wagers
The Big Idea
Time's Up
Maskenball Venezia
- really just having conversation, but trying to communicate with your contact and catch spies while you talk.

For Upper Intermediate students:
Stupidduel (storytelling - think of the Sicilian in Princess Bride)

For Kids (Only?)
To practice animal names/animal sounds - Snorta!

Other games I want to try:

What's it To Ya?
Say Anything
(to be released next month)

Games that DON'T work well:
Guesstures - the words are too unfamiliar to most students

Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:24 pm
Post About Apples to Apples
I know what you mean about the students take a while to get into the game. Hmmm... I wonder if maturity level feeds into that. If you play with high school or college students it might work better. Unfortunately, it looks like the 2003 Japanese published version is out of print! It provided good scaffolding and Japanese cultural references for my students. You can keep checking with beverly enterprises though for a future reprint.

I think this game is about persuading, not arguing. Although it IS fun if you get argumentative players playing it. Even in English, though, being quiet so as to not reveal which card is yours occasionally is a good strategy.

I wonder how we might adjust the game to add more gamelike motivation so that students will produce more spoken English while playing.

How about this idea? Bring a bunch of chips (bingo, transparent, beads, whatever) and put them in a box/cup.

OPTIONAL RULE #1 A student who wins a green card gets three chips.

OPTIONAL RULE #2 Each round, if any student speaks at least one complete sentence to support one of the cards on the table, the judge must give one and (only one) chip to that student. This way, each student who is not the judge can get one chip just for speaking.

OPTIONAL RULE #3 If one of the non-judge students speaks two or more sentences, **and the judge is impressed by what they say**, the judge MAY give a maximum of a second chip to that student.

OPTIONAL RULE #4 Play the game for chips, not just for green cards. The first student to get 15 chipos is the winner. (Could make it more or less chips to make a longer / shorter game)

What do you think? This would encourage students to say **something** about one of the cards on the table - remember it doesn't have to be their own card if they're trying to fool the judge!

Chuck Waterman

Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:55 pm

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm
Posts: 191
Location: South Korea
I've used dice and cards and of course scrabble in my classes before, but I never thought about using things like Jenga or uno.

I particulary like the jenga idea. This weekend I shall attempt to find the colored blocks, that way I can just place a colored flash card on the board and another flash card next to it.

After a student successfully pulls a block, I will have the student make a sentence using the card or answer a question another student asks.

Dare to dream. Dance through life!

Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:06 am

Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:59 am
Posts: 1
I'm a big fan of two games in particular. Snorta and Apples to Apples Jr version.

The kids enjoy them, the rules are easy to learn and both are well thought out. Apples to Apples having won a Mensa award as well.

You can check them out at and respectively.

Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:04 am

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:50 pm
Posts: 11
Great list! Time's Up and Catchphrase are two of my favorite games.

Teach English in Korea

Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:31 pm
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