How to Host Your Own English Language Olympics

How to Host Your Own English Language Olympics

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 22,006 views

Even though the big games only come around every two to four years, you don’t have to wait that long before hosting your own Olympic Games.

As the year comes to a close, celebrate everything that your students have learned with this fun review of the year’s English lessons. Here’s how to host your own English Language Olympic Games.

Host Your Own Olympics in Your Classroom

  1. 1

    Assign Teams

    You don’t have to put your students in teams to play these language games, but giving ESL students a partner does tend to decrease their stress and make fun activities like these even more fun. So think about creating teams of two to four amongst your students. Mix skill levels as well as the cultures of your students.

  2. 2

    Create Country Flags

    If you teach a class of internationals, you might be on thin ice if students are “representing” their own countries. To avoid any potential problems, have students create fictional countries that they will be representing. In their teams, have students choose a name for their country, create a country flag, and come up with some basic information about the climate and people who live there.

  3. 3

    Opening Ceremonies

    To start your Olympics, you don’t have to run a torch into your classroom and set fire to a huge beacon. Instead, give your students a chance to parade around dressed in the style of their fictional country. Also, have each group give a creative presentation (a song, skit, etc.) to the class that gives the basic information about their country that they came up with in step two. Since the opening ceremonies are generally an opportunity for the hosting country to share about themselves, letting your students share about their fictional country is a good beginning to your own classroom Olympics and includes a presentation aspect to your games. If you like, award points for the best presentations.

  4. 4

    Host the Events

    The events are probably the most fun part of your English language Olympic Games. You have lots of flexibility to design events based on your students’ skills and what youa re studying in class. Here are some ideas to get you started. Remember for each event, you will want to award points to the top three teams – five points for first place (gold), three points for second place (silver), and one point for third palce (bronze). It’s up to you whether you have one person from each team compete in each event, requiring your students to strategize who will participate in each event, or have everyone from each team compete in each event, which will give you a read on every student’s skills. At the end of each event, take a few minutes to hold a metal award ceremony. Have the top three scoring teams come to the front of the room and award them prizes for the round. If you like, choose three awards – gold, silver, and bronze – to use for every award ceremony. Let each team who won an award keep it in their possession until the next award ceremony at which time they return it to you and you pass it on to the top three teams for the next event.

Consider Vocabulary Diving

Use this event as a review of all your vocabulary words for the year. Write each word on a small slip of paper, and put it in a bucket. This will be your pool. Then, have one person from each team take turns “diving” their hand into the bucket and choosing a word. They will then have sixty seconds to write a sentence on the board, which clearly shows the meaning of the word they chose in their dive. If the sentence shows the meaning of the word, score five points. If it is also perfect grammatically, score another five points. Play as many rounds as you like and then award medals to the teams according to their scores in the event.

Check Equestrian Spelling Jump

While Olympic riders race to complete a jumping course in the quickest time, your students will race all at once to reach the end goal while spelling words. In essence, this is a spelling bee, but in Olympic style. To prepare, scatter several papers around your classroom floor or another open playing area. Tell students these papers are like rocks in a stream, and they will have to step from one to another to get to the goal. No two people can occupy the same spot at the same time. Students will have to choose what they think is the shortest route from their starting position to the goal. Have teams draw for the order in which they will play. On each team’s first turn, they begin at a designated starting spot. Give the player a word to spell. If that person spells the word correctly, he or she may jump to a square of their choosing. Then the next player goes. If a person spells a word incorrectly, they must return to the starting point. If they miss the square on their jump (both feet have to land entirely inside the paper) they must return to the starting point. Students will have to decide if they want to spell more words and take more careful steps or if they want to take bigger jumps in hopes of getting to the finish faster. The first person to reach the end wins gold, the second silver, and the third bronze.

Fill in the Blank Archery

Firing arrows in your classroom probably isn’t a good idea, but you can easily set up a dartboard for this simple game. First, choose the skill you want to test. - it might be a particular grammar point or comprehension questions on something your class has read. Then set up your dartboard with a line down the middle. Label one side A and the other side B. When students compete in the event, ask each person a question on the target structure and give him or her a choice of answers between A and B. The student must choose what answer they think is correct and then throw the dart at that side of the board. Award one point to the team if the dart lands on the correct answer. If the dart misses the board completely, subtract one point from their score. At the end of the game, the top three scoring teams are awarded metals.

Apply Vocabulary Wrestling

How many synonyms do your students know for common words? How many items can your students name from a given category? Find the answers in this simple vocabulary faceoff. Students from two teams come to the front of the room and face each other. You announce a category, such as sports. The players must then take turns giving an item from each category until one person cannot think of another one. The last person able to give an item for the category scores a point. Play enough rounds so each team has the same number of turns and award the top three scoring teams at the end of the event.


You can create other games of your choosing, or do an encore of in-class exercises after giving them an Olympic sounding name. Add up points for all the medals your students won, and award the final prizes in the closing ceremony.

Do you do any fun end of the year reviews with your students?

What are your favorites?

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