EFL Games for Reading

Most EFL games here - with a couple of exceptions - are for beginner/elementary level children. Many of these games will also help with spelling. I also have a page of Games for spelling to specifically practice spelling.

Games for Teaching Reading

Turn and Say/Read Divide the class into two teams and have a student from each standing back to back at the front of the class. Give the students flashcards and tell them to turn around. They must quickly read the word on the other student's flashcard.

The flashcards must be held up so the opposing student can see it clearly. This ESL game also practices vocabulary. If this is the focus, pictures instead of words can be used.

Flashcard Games Using Sentences Above is one of the ESL games for reading individual words using flashcards. Here are ideas for using flashcards with sentences written on them. Using isolated words or letters can never be as interesting as using sentences, as there is less meaning in single words.

The teacher, or a student, holds up a flashcard with a command written on it. Create a variety of commands, for example: 'Go out of the classroom and look through the window,' 'wash your dog,' etc. The class read it and raise their hands when ready, but don't speak. The teacher then chooses someone who performs the action stated on the card, for example: 'Look out of the window.' If the action is performed wrongly, then another student can try. This can be done as a team contest.

When the actions have been performed, the cards can be read aloud. Questions, preferably wh-questions can be used instead of commands.

Stepping-stones One of the EFL games for reading for younger children. A river is drawn on the board with stepping-stones across it. Each 'stepping-stone' has a word or sentence written in it. Students, from each team in turn, must read it aloud to move to the next stone. The words should be ones the students are familiar with.

Word Snap is a game for beginner or elementary level children. Use blank name cards to write words on. The words should be written both ways up, so all the children can quickly read the word. Play in small groups. All the children are dealt some cards, which are faced down so they can't see them. One by one the children put cards in the center of the table, facing up. When the card put down is the same one as the on the table the first child to call out snap, takes all the cards. The game can continue until only one player remains.

Pelmanism One of the EFL games I've mentioned in a few of my EFL games articles. It's a flexible game and can be used for practicing grammar, vocabulary as well as reading.

Two sets of cards need to be made - each one being different. Sentences - or words - are written on them. The two sets much match. For example: set 1 may have a card with 'dog' written on it; set 2 would need a short description of a dog. Or set 1 may have 'What would you do if you met an alien?' Set 2 could have 'I'd say hello, and ask about its world.'

Single words may be matched with definitions of those words. Grammar points can be practiced - 'simple present' could be matched with an example sentence, 'I drink tea every day.'

To play, the first player must turn over two of the cards, which are all placed upside-down on the table. If the student chooses a matching pair, the student keeps the pair and has another go, and keeps going until two non-matching cards are turned over. These are turned upside-down again and the other team has a go. Students are not allowed to move the cards around on the table. They need to remember where the cards are. The team with the most pairs of cards at the end wins.

Circle it! is one of the well known EFL games for children, and is always popular with younger children. When practiced for reading, write - or have the students write - words on the board. Then divide the class into teams and have them line up in front of the board. Call out a word and the students must circle it.

Bingo One of the oldest EFL games for reading.

Sentences to Story One of the EFL games here that can also be played by teenagers and adults. It's a game-like activity for intermediate to advanced students. A short story or other interesting piece of text is cut into sentences, which are then mixed up on the desk. The students must then decide on the order of the sentences, and must recreate the story. Students also practice their English when they are deciding which sentence is first, second and so on.

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