Hot Seat ESL Vocabulary Game

The Hot Seat ESL Game is a classic vocabulary activity that has been around for a while in the language learning world. It can be used with all age groups, not just kids, and can be a good way to get everyone involved in the activity. It is sometimes called “Back to the Board” or similar to the game “Taboo.”

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

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Age Group: Kids, Adults

Hot Seat ESL Game

Hot Seat ESL Game Preparation:

First, to prepare for the game, you should have a good idea of what words you would like to review beforehand. You may want to create a word list. Then, print it out so that you can refer to it in class.

As for materials, you just need the board and a chair for the students to sit on when it is their turn to guess the correct words.

Hot Seat ESL Game Guidelines:

This game could be played at the beginning of class as a warmer. It is also a fun activity for reviewing important vocabulary at the end of a lesson.

To start, it would be a good idea to do a few words as examples so they know how to play.

First, write a simple word on the board, like “apple.”

Next, tell the students that you don’t know what the word is on the board. Students should give you hints about it without actually saying “apple.”

They can give descriptions telling you that it’s a fruit, it’s usually red, and it fell on Newton’s head etc.

After eliciting some descriptions from them, tell them you know the answer and that it’s an apple. Do a couple more easy examples to practice so they get the hang of it.

Next, divide the class into teams so you can add an element of competition to the game.

Have one of the students from one of the teams come up to the front of the class. They can sit on a chair facing the students with their back to the board.

Alternatively, if you can’t move a chair to the front, the student could simply stand at the front or even close their eyes while sitting at their desk. A blindfold could be a fun to use for younger students. As we all know, kids can cheat from time to time.

Once the student is ready, write a word on the board that they have to guess. The student’s team should try to explain what the word is by using various descriptions. Set a time limit so that they have to come up with the answer quickly.

If the student guesses the word correctly, award his or her team a point.

The student returns to their desk. Then, a student from the other team comes up to the front and tries to perform the same task.

Repeat the activity until everyone in the class has had an opportunity to guess a new word. Award the team that earns the most points a prize.

To make the game more difficult, instead of using single words, you could challenge the students with a similar activity using full sentences.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

As an extension to the Hot Seat game, you could have the students write a paragraph about a specific topic using the vocabulary from the activity.

They could also try the Song Lyrics Listening Activity with songs incorporating the vocabulary.

View more vocabulary games.

View more ESL activities.

Related ESL Resources Online:

Games and Activities for ESL Classrooms on ITESLJ.org

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