Many games for teaching English writing provide practice in other skills as well. Speaking, reading, listening and writing are interrelated, as all experienced teachers know. Some of the games for teaching English I've written about on other pages, for example in ESL Games for Reading, could be adapted for writing practice. However, here I've focussed on ESL games - some for children and some for adults - that focus on ESL writing practice. Here are a list of games to teach English writing as well as other interesting ESL writing activities that are game-like in their nature.
Categories - Create 4 or 5 categories (fruit, insects, verbs, school subjects..). Say a letter and the students write a word in each category that begins with this letter. The first team to finish - with all words spelt correctly, wins.
What if? is a game for intermediate and above, young learners. It's good for practicing conditionals. Ask the class a conditional question. For example: "What would you do if you saw an elephant outside your school?" You could elicit possible answers: "I would tell my friends," etc.
Then divide the class into 2 groups. Group one writes questions on pieces of paper. Group two writes answers on pieces of paper. "I would..." Then all the questions are put into one box or bag and mixed up. All the answers are put into another box or bag and mixed.
Then students take out a question and answer and read them aloud. Usually there are some amusing answers to questions.
Writing contests are simple to do in class, and children often love them. Divide the class into teams. How many depends on the size of the board. The students line up at the board. The first member of each team has a marker/piece of chalk.
Ask a question, and the students must race to answer it in writing. When they become better, you could give the students an answer, and they write the question. Points are given for the first team to write the correct answer.
Remember that many of the games for teaching English, mentioned here, also work as games for teaching English spelling.
Writing True/False Statements The first time this activity is carried out it is the teacher who needs to write. The second time the students can do the writing themselves. Write statements on the board - some true, some not. Some can be ridiculous, especially if you are teaching children. Some can be obvious, although with more advanced groups it's a good idea to include statements that require some thinking about, to increase interest in the activity.
Some example sentences could be: "Polar bears live at the South Pole," "Hamlet was written by Dickens," "Dogs always cook cats." Anything you want that suits the age and level of the class. Students must comment orally first, then in writing, about the sentences. For example: "Dogs never cook cats. They chase them," etc. Once the students understand, they can write their own statements, and respond in writing to those of other students.
Dictation can become a game-like activity when practiced in a variety of ways, and when interesting material is used. There are many types of dictation, and it's important to vary the way it's done. Here are two that students often enjoy.
Running dictations are when pieces of text are stuck to the classroom walls, and teams (divided into runners and readers, and writers, who must remain by the board to write what the others on their team tell them. It's a good to give different students the role of writer a few times. The teams must copy the writing on the wall accurately.
CD dictation can also be fun. Draw the controls of a CD player on the board. Stop, Play and Go Back are enough. Explain to the students that they can control what you say by giving the above commands to you. Then read a short piece of text you have written or carefully chosen for the level of the students.
Read at a natural speed. The students must tell you to stop and go back etc, so they have time to write what you say. They can ask you how to spell the word, but nothing else. When the students are used to the activity they can complete the final sentence for themselves.
Consequences is an old game, and is best for intermediate students. All students have a piece of paper. They all must write a name. The first name must be male for all, or female for all students. A famous person is best. Students then fold back the paper, hiding the name, and pass their paper to the next student (who should not look).
Then the students write 'met' followed by a female name (if the first name was male), then they fold the paper again, and pass it on to the next student. Next they must write a location, what they said, and last, 'The consequence was...'.
Then the papers are unfolded and read aloud. You may have, "Barack Obama met Hello Kitty in the pub. He said 'I love hamburgers.' She said 'What day is it?' The consequence was that they drove to Alaska." A little crazy, but this is generally part of the fun.
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