8 Cool Board Games For ESL Classroom

Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Editorial Team

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To ensure a real-life aura and a pragmatic essence to learning, board games may be a noteworthy pick.  This may be true in the process of ESL too. Mentors may often prefer to employ these to entice students as these can be an admirable way to learn a new language and practice vocabulary and grammar.  

That being the case, we have researched fine options of board games for ESL. Here, in this post, we listed board games that encourage students to play and simultaneously master the language. These games often improve interaction and thereby could learn real-world queries as well 

ESL board games: How do they support?

ESL board games may be a fun method to get children to practice their new language skills. They are appreciable for allowing free practice of certain grammatical structures as well as real language use through conversation. Here are some other worthy edges:

1. Student engagement

Children are always enthralled by the prospect of playing games. These board games can help kids to have a good time while learning a new language. This will secure their participation. They will be stimulated and will not become bored while learning through games. It will also increase their attention span as they will be highly interested.

2. Interaction between students

The focus of the games is mostly on the students. The teacher’s role is limited to that of a facilitator. Class camaraderie is fostered via games. These have the potential to encourage whole-class involvement. Playing games encourages healthy competitiveness. It also increases the interaction among peers.

3. Student-friendly and effective

Most games focus on tasks to be done. These promote the use of language in a creative and spontaneous manner. They help people improve their communication skills. Games may be both motivating and entertaining. Students may ensure engagement along with learning. 

4. Opportunities for early learning

Even basic games may help young players learn to recognise colors, count spaces, and improve hand-eye coordination and dexterity as they move cards and pieces across the board. Furthermore, learning to wait your time and observe the rules are valuable skills that children will take with them well.

5. Attention span

When children play board games, their attention span increases as they focus on one task for a longer period of time. They are able to concentrate better in the process. This is because they are highly interested in board games and do not get bored while playing as compared to when they study in the traditional ways.

What do researchers say about the amalgamation of games and ESL?

Wright et al agree that a game provides students with a useful and meaningful context for language use; encourages them to interact and communicate; provides practice for all four skills;, and assists them with making and maintaining the significant effort required for learning another language.

Games, according to Kim and others, may provide a pleasant respite from the language class’s typical routine. When asked about how these games can be employed, he replied that these recreations may be something that students may wait for after exams for their gameplay and engagement.  Teachers too prefer them as these games may ensure learning part in them as well.

Board games: Our curated picks for ESL

Here are eight of the finest board games for getting children to talk in ESL and oral communication programs.

1. Talktastic board game

 Talktastic board game

This game with a dice and a board starts with a little planning, children will be asking and responding to questions in no time. 

First, the teacher divides the students into groups of two. Students then roll the dice and move their game pieces around the board. They’ll ask their companion the question in the box after they’ve landed on a square. 

As a result, their partner reacts until they’ve gone all the way around the game board.

2. Scrabble 


Children can use a set of letters in a crossword grid to build multiple words. They have to combine letters to form words, then sum up the scores to win.  For a big-time word-on-word confrontation, this classic game includes the traditional Scrabble equipment. 

This game may let the learners acknowledge new words. Mentors may also join pupils to motivate them.  All levels of speakers alike can learn about vocabulary that they may not master previously.

ESL students may like this as a classroom interaction with Scrabble if employed in the classroom. 

3. Monopoly


This is a simple dice-driven race around the board in which players can purchase property titles of varied value, build houses and hotels, and then charge rent to those who land on their squares. With a focus on language to communicate and determine the status of the game at various levels, language is often necessary. 

This way, the gameplay implicitly assists the students to make use of the English language while noticing, transacting, and performing actions as per the recreation. For instance, if a city is to be purchased, then the player may need to communicate with other players about details and the process of purchase. Further, if another pupil falls in that city later, then the amount of rent and other details may need them to use language skills. 

4. Boggle


Boggle is a word search game in which two players compete against one other. To win, you must find the most words. First and foremost, to begin the game Shake up the letters set the timer, and try to find the words as quickly as possible. We may also play this game solo to improve our vocabulary. The rules are simple to learn, but this game, like many spelling games, is difficult to master. 

The goal is to focus on the lengthier words while ignoring the three-letter ones that don’t count. It encourages you to think quickly and write quickly.

5. Taboo


This board game and cards start with a player choosing a card and attempting to get people to guess what word is on it, But that is not all to the game. The obvious clues maybe not be allowed when playing the Taboo game. Players have to deliver inventive and well-phrased clues to persuade team members to guess phrases quickly while racing against the clock.

People enjoy the game’s lighthearted character and generate engagement. This game may entertain children, and they will be eager to play it.

6. Snakes and ladder weather

Snakes and ladder weather

It comes with jumbo-hardwood dice, which provide an excellent gripping surface for small children. What makes this choice distinct from other snake and ladder games is that it has some weather patterns in some grids. These form a crucial part of the gameplay, implicitly cultivating ESL skills in the learner. This is an excellent early board game for kids. Conversations on the weather are instructive, thereby may assist in bridging the concepts across multicultural pupils as well. 

While it may not be about the entire English vocabulary, knowledge about climate conditions and their effects may add up to the practice for ESL students. This is also a good game for math skills as they constantly use operations like addition and subtraction in this game.

7. Balderdash


The game is simple and enjoyable, and it encourages you to use your creativity. Each card has five categories, with the correct answer for each category on the other side. Each user responds to the category word or description with a “good” answer. 

To start with, the mentor picks a card and rolls the dice. Accordingly, a word on that card is picked and orated to the players. The pupils do need to guess the meaning of that word, write it on paper and then submit it to the leader. The leader shuffles these cards and orates meanings back for voting from students, the one who guesses it right gets a chance to move forward on the board.  The one who reaches the endpoint is the winner, known as Balderdash. 

Being a game of words and their meaning, the learners may get a chance to explore more about English, ensuring it to be an admirable practice session.  

8. Bananagrams


This game may be a remarkable choice to turn out word practice into an enticing game. A player is expected to utilize some unique terms when it comes to bananas. 

First, all the tiles are poured onto a table and ensure that each of them is turned down. To start with, each of the pupils decides and pick an equal number of tiles. When one of them speaks out “Splash”, the players turn their tiles to form grids of words. Once any one of them runs out of words, then they may call out “Pick”. With this, each player picks one tile to add to their grid. If a player doesn’t want a tile picked they may call out “Dump”, and then put back this tile to pick up three tiles as compensation. The game continues till all the tiles are grabbed or the number of tiles left is less than the number of players.  The one with the most number of words at the end wins by saying “Banana”.

This game may be often motivating for pupils to compete in making better words, implicitly focusing on their vocabulary development and thereby a good ESL game. 

Wrapping up,

The choices presented above may assist the ESL learners in ameliorating their English skills in listening, and communication by addressing their vocabulary. Involving some fun ESL games into your weekly lesson plans provides your pupils with a break from standard approaches and fosters a positive learning environment. In the process, you may cover practically every ESL skill. These may assist the pupils to look into unique dimensions of language ensuring creativity in an engaging environment.

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