Playing the ESL Charades game in the classroom is a fun way to get your class up and moving using any types of vocabulary that you are using in your lessons. Get the students thinking “outside of the box” with a classic  interactive and dynamic game of Charades.

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Age Group: Kids, Adults

Charades ESL Game

Charades ESL Game Preparation:

To prepare for the game, you may want to collect a few words that are loosely related to the topics that you are currently covering in your class’s textbook.

Create a word list and print it out so you can refer to it directly in class if you want.

Charades ESL Game Guidelines:

To start off the activity, start the class with a demonstration of how to play the game. The purpose of Charades is to elicit a correct answer of a word, phrase, person’s name, movie character or the title of a movie (etc.) without saying anything. A person stands up in front of the class and can only use actions and movement to elicit the answer.

You could explain the rules to class beforehand or jump straight in with the demonstration without much of an in-depth explanation.

Think of a simple word for the first example to show the class. A good one to start off with could be the word “tree.” No matter what the level of the class, everyone should get it, plus have a good laugh with the example.

At the front of the classroom, simply stand up and form your body in the shape of a tree. The students should shout out a few guesses and eventually one student will say, “Tree!”

After the demonstration of how to play the Charades ESL game, put the class into teams and have them think of a number of different words, movie titles, movie characters, famous people or anything they want the other team to act out. The possibilities are endless. Tell them to make it challenging for the other groups to guess. They should write all of their words on separate pieces of paper. Five papers per group should be enough depending on how much time you have.

Once everyone has written something on their papers, gather up all of the papers and begin the game. Each team will use the words on the papers created by the opposing team. Every member of each team should have a chance act out at least one of the words/phrases.

Additionally, you may want to explain the finer details of the game, such as holding up one finger suggests it is “one” word. Two fingers means the answer includes “two words” etc. Touching yourself on the chest means the answer is a “person.” Holding your hands up with the motion of a classic film camera means that it is a “movie.”

If anyone doing the actions speaks, deduct a point from their team. Only the audience watching the student at the front of the class should be shouting out answers and using their voices.

At the end of the game, tally up all of the points and award the winning team a prize.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

As a follow up activity to the Charades ESL game, you could collect all of the words that the students used and have them create a story using the vocabulary. It could be a short paragraph or a speaking activity, like the Movie Trailers Speaking Activity, depending on which core skill you would like to focus on.

View more ESL board games.

View more ESL activities.


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