Have you ever noticed that students start disappearing right about the time you start reviewing for a test?
Review lessons can be boring enough, but grammar reviews are precisely the type of thing that makes students want to skip class and reappear only for the test. Now, what if you were to give your students a grammar review they wouldn’t want to miss? Here are some classic games you can adapt to any level and use to review essential structures. You will have a full classroom during your reviews lessons – guaranteed!
Try These 6 Super ESL Games for Grammar Review
Shoot for Points
We often need to review things that are no fun, things like the past simple or past participle of irregular verbs. Instead of the classic Q & A, try this. Use a large container or trash can as your “basket”, give your students a ball and have them shoot for points. But here’s the catch: you’ll ask them a question in past simple, and they’ll have to remember the past correctly in order to earn the chance to shoot. They can get 10 points for scoring or five if they miss (because at least they answered the question correctly). You can try any variety of this type of game, whether you use large balls or small ones, or even a wadded up piece of paper.
Everyone loves a board game, and your ESL students will particularly appreciate one if it’s not only loads of fun, but also a helpful way to review essential grammar. You can design your own to include the tenses and structures your students have learned, or use any of the ones already available at BusyTeacher.org. This Grammar Revision Board Game is a perfect example.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe is another versatile game, one that can be adapted to suit a wide variety of needs. What you need to decide first is which grammar your students need to review for the test. Then, write the topics on nine index cards or large enough pieces of paper. Arrange the cards face down on a table or stick them on the board, in the classic Tic Tac Toe 3 x 3 grid.
Next, teams take turns choosing a square (you can add letters across and numbers down to make it easier to call out the squares). You turn over the card and reveal to your students the tense/structure/grammar point written on it. Students must then either provide an example or ask a question that another team member must answer correctly to get their X or O on that square. Of course, the first team that gets three Xs or Os across, down or diagonally wins.
Snakes and Ladders
To play this classic game in your grammar review lesson, you’ll first need to prepare some cards: they may have verb tenses written on them, questions your students must answer or prompts from which to say a complete sentence.
The rules are simple, but the game is so much fun! Students must first choose a token to move around the board (a different colored button for each will do nicely!) Then they take turns rolling the dice to move across the board. They must take a card and answer correctly to remain on that spot, or move back two places if they are incorrect. If they land at the bottom of a ladder, and they answer correctly, they get to move up the ladder, but if they land on a snake’s head they automatically move down to where its tail is. Here’s a blank template you can use or create your own.
This is a game I’ve played with students of different ages and levels with tremendous success. First, you’ll need to draw a playing field like this one on the board or a large piece of paper:
Next, divide your students into two teams. Place a “ball” token at the center. Then, students must answer questions correctly to approach the posts and score a goal. For example, Team A answers correctly and moves right one step closer to their goal. Team B answers correctly and moves the ball left back to the center. Team A answers incorrectly and can’t move the ball at all. Team B answers correctly and moves left one step closer to their goal. If Team A were to keep answering incorrectly and Team B correctly, then Team B will continue moving left to eventually score a goal. When a team scores, the ball moves back to the center, and the team that did not score last starts. The team with the most goals wins.
I’ve mentioned this game in several articles, and it happens to be my personal favorite. There is so much you can do with it - you can review everything they’ve learned in a single fun game. You’ll find it explained here. All you have to do is replace the categories at the top with tenses or structures you want them to review.
Not all grammar reviews have to be cut and dried. Don’t underestimate the power of games - they help students use the resources they’ve acquired in creative ways.
They engage learners to put the things they’ve learned to good use. The competitive environment motivates them to give it their best effort.
If you’ve ever used these games for review, please tell us about your experience below. And feel free to suggest other great games for grammar reviews!