Games that provide fun English practice for college/adult ESL students
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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This is a starter list of games I like to use with High School /College / Adult English as a Second/Foreign Language students here in Japan. In addition, I'll note games I haven't tried yet but I think will work when I get the chance to use it with students at the right level. With each game, I'll indicate what minimum level of English (Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced) I think is needed for the game to "work", and comments about what I try / would try to do to make this game include some communicative English practice.
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1. Board Game: Apples to Apples [Average Rating:6.09 Overall Rank:1835] [Average Rating:6.09 Unranked]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Almost more an activity than a game (a concept I first heard on The Dice Tower). Combining nouns and adjectives is of course great basic grammar practice, but the game really shines when you encourage Low Intermediate students to talk about their feelings about the cards on the table (not necessarily their own). You might suggest the "judge" each turn chooses the card that has the best "defense", although that changes the strategy of the game a bit. I have two copies of the bilingual Japanese/English version of the game called "Appuru to Appuru" by a Japanese company which is unfortunately out of print now. It helps Beginners to understand what's going on more quickly.
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2. Board Game: Time's Up! [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:251]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Fun city! Works with Intermediate and higher - second and third rounds use almost no language but who cares! Again, sort through the cards to find cards that are likely to be known by your students - you may want to let them help you with this the first time you play. If you LOVE this game, buy their blank cards and write your own cards with names from the students' own cultures!

Speaking of which - does anyone have a list of names that would be easily recognizable in Japan? I've got a friend or two helping me create this but I'd love some help.
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3. Board Game: Snake Oil [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:1093] [Average Rating:6.91 Unranked]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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This game has REPLACED The Big Idea in my classroom games list. This game also requires the creative creation of a product, but the cards are easier to combine meaningfully (no "deluxe" or "luxury", etc.) and this game adds the concept of a CUSTOMER you must create a product for. Instead of investing in products, each player has 30 seconds to give a pitch for a two card new product for the customer (being played by the current judging player) After all the Snake Oil salesman have tried to convince the customer that their product is most useful for the customer, the player portraying the customer chooses the product they like best (Like Apples to Apples) The customer cards range from "Cheerleader" and "Gangster" to "Executioner" and "Alien"!

 
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4. Board Game: Say What!?! [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:9236]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Again, perhaps more an activity than a game - Say What works with Beginners and up. You might want more than one deck especially for a large class. My wife has used this successfully (with rule changes) with her Junior High students here. I haven't had the right setting for this game - its kind of hard to use it if you're trying to get anythi ng else done at the same time. Still - a simple game which encourages listening and tryiong to ask and answer questions creatively in order to get others to say your words while avoiding saying theirs.
 
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5. Board Game: Imaginiff [Average Rating:5.56 Overall Rank:8496]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Fun game - good community building and lots of practice with conditionals! I recommend encouraging students to explain their choices - perhaps just the winning students and the student who was the topic for the question.
 
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6. Board Game: Wits & Wagers [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:371]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Admittedly the only English required in this game is the English used in reading the questions - still its a lot of fun when you have a large class, great listening practice, and can lead to more communication about why people place their bets the way they do. *grin*
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7. Board Game: GiftTRAP [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1219]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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FUN!!! Now again, not a ton of English being used, but the students quickly realize if they communicate about what kinds of gifts they like and don't like AND WHY, they will get better gifts and move ahead! Therefore the game encourages simple communication about likes and dislikes - and more with higher level students.
 
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8. Board Game: Taboo [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1369]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Great chance for students to work on circumlocution. Not recommended for Beginner-Low students, but even Beginner-High students can play this if you pick out only cards with simple enough vocabulary.
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9. Board Game: Catch Phrase! [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1512]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Great communication game. Use with Intermediate-Low and up. Can lead to students just giving each other definitions but at higher levels they'll start acting out situations in which an object is used and other creative ways to use language to give clues. A bit stressful with the timer, but fun!
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10. Board Game: LifeStories [Average Rating:4.23 Unranked]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Good getting to know you game. Works with Intermediate-Mid and higher - small group only, though. Probably only works if the teacher or an English speaker is present, or with students who must use English to communicate with each other (from different language backgrounds)
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11. Board Game: Argue [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:8506]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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This game works well with a discussion / debate class - or any group that you want to practice language used in agreeing and disagreeing with. Intermediate-Mid I would say, and maybe juniors in high school can do it. However, I've only tried this game with college students and other adults. You'll probably want to invent your own topics so that your students will be able to intelligently argue the topics. Great for large classes. The "Distraction" cards are a lot of fun - again, choose ones that will not be too embarassing for your target group.
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12. Board Game: Tapple [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:2416]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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Just brought this game back from the US. This game has a great "toy factor" which makes Ss encourage it, and it plays quickly which is also a plus. Basically, this is a categories game. The first player draws a category card (pizza toppings, drinks, names of sports, etc.) and then says the name of an item in that category. She then presses the key for that letter, and bops the button on the top of the "Tapple" and passes it to the next player. Bopping the top button resets a ten second timer - which is how long each subsequent player has to quickly say another word in that category that starts with a DIFFERENT letter, press the key for that letter, and then re-bop the button. The first player who doesn't press a key and bop the button in time is out, and the other players continue until only one player is still "in" That player gets the card for the round as a point. Darw a new card and off you go!
 
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13. Board Game: Linkity [Average Rating:5.41 Overall Rank:9435]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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This is a simple set of letter cards and negative point chips. Simple, yes but a really fun idea for a game and a helpful way to help Ss discover connections between English words! Each player gets a hand of seven letter cards. The first player chooses any card from their hand and places it in the middle of the table - saying a word that starts with that letter. All the other players then try to think of a word that ** has some connection** to the word just played. (Note - this is NOT a category game like Tapple - this is a game about finding words that link in meaning somehow. The object is to get rid of your cards first. When one player has played their last card, everyone who still has cards in their hand takes a number of negative point chips equal to the number of cards they still have. Students are playing this in our college's English Lounge quite happily this week! Allow for all kinds of odd links, but if someone plays a word that other players disagree with, they can stop the game by saying "Challenge!" Then the player who played the word can defend their link, and everyone votes thumbs up or down. If the majority have thumbs down, the player who played the word picks the card back up AND TWO MORE from the deck, and starts a new pile of cards with any word. If the majoruty have thumbs UP, the CHALLENGER must take two cards from the deck and start a new pile in the same way. Ts could probably make a deck of cards and point chips by themselves to play this. However, the distribution of letters on the 90 cards is the publisher's copyright, so you'll have to choose how many cards and which letters you use without my input, sorry! Hint: Not all 26 letters are in the deck!

Video explaining the game:
http://boardgamegeek.com/video/19850/linkity/simplyfun-playo...

 
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14. Board Game: Aunt Millie's Millions [Average Rating:5.75 Overall Rank:8318]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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I won't go into the simple rules of this game. The heart of the reason I love this one is the ROLE-PLAYING! The setting is the settling of the estate of poor, departed Aunt Millie. Each player chooses a stand up figure and tells the rest of the players what relationship that character is to poor, departed Aunt Millie (relative, neighbor, bowling buddy, etc.). Then everyone tries to be as quick as possible to grab the nmost valuable of Aunt Millie's estate items as they come up for grabs.

If two players want to receive the same valuable item form Aunt Millie's legacy, they choose a third player to be "judge.' The game then requires each of them to make a 30 second "justification" story about why Aunt Millie would want them to have it, after which the judge may ask each player one question about their story. The current judge then decides which player gets that item.

This can get to be a lot of fun as students get used to it, and stories repeat previous stories and brave students try to poke holes in the other students' stories!
 
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15. Board Game: Moods [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:4586]
Charles Waterman
United States
Commerce Township
Michigan
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A gret, fun game that I only found out about two years ago, and is sadly out of print. You should still be able to get a set on ebay though! (that's where I got mine.)

I'll extend this explanation later. The heart of this game is reading a sentence from a card in the "mood" or emotion of one of ten emotion cards on the board. All other players try to guess which emotion you were trying to communicate.

Of course, I preteach all the emotion vocabulary and edit sentences so that they're easy to read and understand quickly. It's a great game if you're trying to emphasize intonation and pauses as ways to create emphasis in public speaking (or just in conversation)!
 
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