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Top 3 Speaking Games for Adult EFL Learners (Online)

This visual statement was probably intended for a completely different context (lol), but it's also a great reminder that adults love to play games just as much as kids do. I've been in classes where people would be quiet and scared of speaking every time they got the chance to say something. The main cause of the fear of speaking is the fear of making mistakes. This happens with students who are too focused on accuracy and just cannot get to the fluency level they desire. However, as soon as I would introduce a game into a lesson, more times than not, there would be a visible difference in their demeanor.

These 3 games are the reason for it. They are fun, they are challenging and they make the students focus on the task in front of them helping them "forget" about accuracy because they need to be as quick as possible.

1. Alias

This game is versatile and can be adapted to any level of difficulty starting from A2 (because you do need a fair amount of vocabulary to make sentences and describe other words).

Alias is a game where the students have to describe a word to their partner who needs to guess what the word is. This is an excellent game to help them develop strategies for situations in which they cannot remember a certain word. This way they don't freeze, but they try to explain the word and convey the message.

TIP! For advanced-level students, another version of this game, called Taboo, might be a better option. In this one, the objective is to have your partner guess the word you are describing without using that word and another three to five words written on the same card, which are closely related to the key word.

How to play it online?

If you have many students in your online class, you can send the words they need to explain to others in a private chat to each student through the video call platform you use. (Make sure to prepare a table with all the words and cross them out when they are used, so you don't repeat them).

If you are doing individual classes, you can prepare the words you want to use in Wordwall, such as this. Send the link to your student and let them choose the color of the cards they want to play. Stop sharing your screen and open the same link, but use the other color. This way you won't be able to see each other's words and will have to rely only on your speaking and listening skills.

2. Tic - Tac - Toe

We've already written about using Tic-Tac-Toe for revision here, but this game has so many applications. One of our favorites is using the grid with a different word in every field. The student chooses the word and has to talk about that topic for 1 minute without stopping. If they manage to do so, regardless of the possible mistakes they make (remember, these games are about fluency), they can write an X or O in their field.

To make the game more challenging for advanced levels - you can prolong the time they need to speak or tell them they have to make sure they have a clear "presentation" of the topic with an introduction, main part, and a conclusion within the given timeframe.

TIP!A bonus option is to give the students a task to tell a story within 1 minute using all 9 words in the grid, in whichever order they want to.

How to play it online?

Here's an example of the grid you could use in your class (this one is perfect for B1 level). Share your screen or upload it on your digital whiteboard and then you can draw Xs and Os on it for everyone to see. If you want the students to be able to draw, don't forget to grant them remote control access.

3. Anekdote

I have to mention Anekdote, not only because I designed it, but because I honestly believe it can bring so much joy and laughter to your classes. Anekdote is a game in which your students need to tell a story within a certain timeframe by using the beginning of the story they get on the screen and then using all the words that appear on the screen one after another. They need to stick to the given genre and try to tell a story that makes sense with words that are not really connected to each other. There are 3 levels of difficulty, so anyone from level A2 upward will be able to play.

The game can be downloaded as a free app on your smartphone or tablet. It's currently available in English and Croatian and you can also play with your friends and family regardless of the teaching side of it as it's extremely entertaining and so funny.

The main goal of the game is to help practice improvisation and to improve storytelling skills in students.

How to play it online?

Download the app and cast the screen of your phone to your laptop while sharing your screen. This way everyone will be able to see what's going on.

Which of these games are you most likely to use with your students?

  • Taboo/Alias

  • Tic - Tac - Toe

  • Anekdote

What would your top 3 speaking games for adults be? Let us know in the comments.

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