Cup Pong


Playing Cup Pong can be more than just a fun drinking game to play with your friends. You can adapt the game, so it can be used to improve your students speaking skills and allows them to have some fun while learning English as well. The ESL Cup Pong Game can be used with all levels and age groups.

Student Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Age Group: Kids, Adults

Cup Pong ESL Board Game

Cup Pong ESL Game Preparation:

For the game, you will need some ping pong balls and some plastic (or paper) cups. You may want to find some bigger cups to make sure it isn’t too difficult for the students to get the ball in. However, using a bunch of those smaller standard office paper cups can be fun for students who are up for more of a challenge.

If you don’t have cups, you could always improvise by using something else like an old A4 paper box or anything else you have laying around.

Depending on the type of skill you want to reinforce, you may also need to prepare some additional materials, like vocabulary lists or grammar points etc.

Cup Pong ESL Game Guidelines:

To begin the game, you need to set up the cups. The arrangement is totally up to you, but you could try aligning them in a V-shape. It also depends on how many cups you have prepared as well. You can make the rules as simple or complex as you want.

One idea is to have each cup represent a student in the class. You could label their names on the cups with a marker or have different colors that represent each student. If you want, designate one of the cups as the one which forces everyone to perform a task.

When you have set up all of the cups on the desk, divide the class into two teams and explain the rules to them. Some may already know how to play already, especially if they are older students who have played before. Alternatively, you could set the cups on the floor, but by having them on the desk may be more appropriate if there isn’t much room available in the classroom.

Let’s use an example for how you could encourage the use of a particular grammar point by playing the game. For the first round, the aim for the students is to create a sentence using progressive verb tenses.

Students from the first team take turns trying to bounce the ping pong ball into the cups. If they get the ball into one of the cups, they score a point. Then check whose cup the ball landed in on the opposing team. Whoever’s cup it landed in, that student must ask the ball thrower a question, such as, “What were you doing yesterday before lunch?”

If the student responds using the correct form, then they can receive an additional 2-points. For example, if they replied, “I was thinking about what to eat,” then would be rewarded the bonus points. You could give them just one point if they make an error to encourage accuracy.

Again, modify the rules and aims as you see fit.

The teams can continue the game in this way until everyone has had a chance to either ask or answer a question using whichever grammar point you would like to practice.

When the game has finished, award the winning team with a prize.

Follow-Up ESL Activities:

If there is time left in class, you can use the topics that you covered in the game to practice another skill, like writing or reading. You could even use the prize that you rewarded as a springboard to the Five Senses ESL Writing Activity which will help improve their descriptive and creative writing skills.

View more kinesthetic learning activities.

View more ESL activities.


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