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Board Games ESL Icebreakers

Updated on June 7, 2015

Pictionary ESL Icebreaker

Pictionary is simple one that all levels of ESL students can do. Break the class into two teams and have one student from each team come to the whiteboard and draw the word. It is a good idea to give each team a different word so they do not cheat.

How do you choose what words to use?

1) Use words that you have studied before as fun way to review the material. 2) Use words to introduce the topic that you will cover today. 3) Give each student a paper and have them write down a word for the class. 4) Use words from the newspaper that for current trends. 5) Buy the board game and use the game cards.

Taboo ESL Icebreaker

Taboo is a game where there are cards with a word underlined at the top and then words below. The word at the top is the secret word that students want the others to guess what it is. However they have to explain the word without saying the related words at the bottom of the card.

For example, if the secret word is STUDENT, then the words students cannot say might be classroom, school, study etc.

The Taboo Board Game is good for upper intermediate to advanced students. You would want to go through the card decks to pick out the cards are appropriate for your students and class.

With the idea, you can make your own! Or use the ESL ones that are already created to give you an idea. This is such a fun game you will want to laminate the cards on colored cardstock so you can reuse them again and again.

You want to demonstrate this as a class with a student volunteer first so students can fully understand the concept of the game and the instructions. Then have the students get into pairs to try on their own. Give the students one minute for their partner to guess as many of the words as possible without saying the other words on the card, and then switch.

Password ESL Icebreaker

Password is the board game of word association. This will be good for advanced students. Students can get into pairs or teams. They are given a word and can only say one word for their partner or team to guess what the word is. The first team who guesses with the fewest number of hints will win.

Get everyone to practice by doing this icebreaker as a partner practice.

You can start with watching the Jimmy Fallon clip where he plays the game with his famous guests to get an idea of tips for playing the game. Students can learn about how tone and facial expressions play a part in communication.

Hedbanz ESL Icebreaker

Hedbanz is the board game where students have head bands with words on their heads and they have to ask questions to guess who they are or what they are. It's like a game of 20 questions but the secret word is on everyone's heads. It is played best in small groups.

For the ESL Icebreaker without the game, you can write the words or pictures on decks of cards for students to use.

Ellen Degeneres has made a game that has a very similar concept called Heads Up! The benefit of this is that it has a mobile app and students can play in small groups with their phones

Family Fued ESL Icebreaker

This is the famous game show that is now a board game. They have teams of families who work together to guess what the answers are. The host will say a topics "What are the top 5 largest cities in the world?". One family goes first to guess and they get points based on if they can guess one of the answers. There are different ways you can give points or organize the game depending on the needs of your class.

Some instructors do surveys beforehand and then tally them up so they can play the game with the students in their class at the end of the week. Check out the Family Fued Questions below to get different ideas of how you can play the game in the class and how you can create the questions.


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