Word Chain ESL Vocabulary Game


This word chain game can be used to help build students vocabulary using a variety of themes. It can be used with larger groups or even in pairs.

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate

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Age Group: Kids, Adults

Word Chain ESL Vocabulary Game

Word Chain Game Preparation:

Not much pre-class preparation is required for this game. If you want, you could think of a few different vocabulary themes based on the words in the textbook that you are using for the class, but it isn’t really necessary.

Word Chain Game Guidelines:

To explain to the class how to do this activity, first, think of a theme like “movie stars” or something simple like “colors” if it is a very basic level of students.

Let’s use the “colors” example to start for the explanation. Grab a board marker and write the word “yellow” on the board so that everyone can see.

Now, underline the last letter of the word yellow and draw an arrow to the next word that they need to think of that starts with “W”. Tell them it has to be a color word only. They should come up with “white” fairly easily.

With the last letter of “white” being “E”, draw another arrow to start the next color word beginning with “E”.

Give students some time to answer. If nobody can think of a color that begins with “E” then suggest that they could have said the color “emerald green” and carry on with “N”. This should be enough to give them the idea of what to do for the game.

Next, have the students form a circle standing up or sitting at their desks in some kind of circular arrangement.

When everyone is ready, tell them that they are going to do the same activity, but this time they have to think of the words quickly and individually one after the other taking turns. Any student who cannot think of the next word fast enough is out of the game.

Try different themes to keep it interesting and challenging for the students. The rules can be varied somewhat, but this is the general aim of the activity.

Once you have completed a number of rounds, you could award the best student with a prize for positive reinforcement, especially if they are children.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

As an extension to the word chain game, you could give the students five words from the activity and have them write sentences using the words. Alternatively, you could try to find movie scenes that use words from the game and try the Movie Dialog Listening Activity as an extension to the lesson.

View more vocabulary games.

View more ESL activities.


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