Language Games for Teaching and Practicing Vocabulary.

Topic: Language games
Skill: Vocabulary
Grade: Primary or Young Learners.

                                  Learning a language requires a great deal of effort. Games help students to make and sustain the effort of learning. Games provide language practice in the various skills – speaking, writing, listening and reading. They create a meaningful context for language use. Here I am going to describe a few games to teach and practice vocabulary.

Onion Rings:

  • This is a good game for practicing vocabulary, spellings and also a good speaking activity when you have a short dialogue you want to practice.
  • You do need room for this or could do it outside.
  • First, divide the class into two.
  • One half stands in a circle facing outwards, the other half stands in a larger circle around them facing inwards.
  • Each pupil should be opposite another pupil.
  • They have 2-3 minutes to ask and answer as many questions as possible, then the outer circle has to move onto the next pupil, stop when they've come full circle. (you can say "run" and "stop" also)
  • This can be used for practicing any language or topic in a more interesting way.
Slap the Board:

It is also a good game to practice and identify new words quickly in an interesting way.
  • Write the words you want the pupils to practise, randomly on the board. 
  • Divide your class into two teams.
  • You should tell your students to discuss the meanings and read the words in their teams before they start to play.
  • Tell pupils that you will read a definition for one words/phrases or read a word on the board and that the person at the front of the line should run and slap the word.
  • The first slapper to cover the word gets a point for their team.
  • The two pupils who slapped the board go to the back of the line.
  • Make sure you keep a score of which team has won each point.
  • Continue until all the words have been slapped.
Ladder race:

  • Draw two ladders on the board. Make sure that the number of rungs in the ladder is the same as the number of pupils in a team.
  • For example: a team of 10 pupils =  a ladder with 10 rungs.
  • To demonstrate, write school on the bottom rung of the ladder. Pupils have to think of a word beginning with the last letter of the word which is 'l'  "Lemon", for example.
  • Write 'lemon' on the next rung of the ladder. 
  • Pupils now have to think of the word beginning with the last letter of lemon and so on.
  • Put the pupils into teams and the teams line up facing the board.
  • You can decide on a topic for the ladder race words, e.g. new words in a lesson, things in the school, animals, birds, places, and parts of the body...etc( then all the words on the ladder must be the related to the topic.)
  • Decide together what the starting word will be and write this in the middle of the board ( not on the ladder).
  • Give each team a piece of chalk and play the ladder race.
  • The first pupil in the line runs to the board and writes the first word on the bottom rung of the ladder.
  • This pupil then runs back to their team, gives the pen to the next person who completes the second word and so on.
  • Check that all the words are spelled correctly and are related to the topic.
  • The team that gets to the top of the ladder first wins.
Rub out and write:

It is also a good game to help pupils memorise new vocabulary.

  • Divide the class into two groups.
  • Write 'L1' words (translation or meaning) on the board inside a circle.
  • You might want the pupil to discuss the meanings and spellings of the words in their teams before they are going to play.
  • Make sure that the number of words should be even to get equal chances to both teams. (10, 12, 14...etc.)
  • Tell your pupils they have to rub a word and write it's English meaning in the circle when they get the chance.
  • When you call a pupil from a team he runs to the board, rubs and writes.
  • Now chance to the other team. Like they continue the game until all the words are translated into English.
  • When all the words are written, now rub out one word. Do not rub out the circle.
  • Ask pupils to repeat the words (including the erased word) by pointing at the empty circle.
  • Rub out another word.
  • Point to the words and empty circles.
  • Pupils read all the words, including the erased words.
  • Continue until the circles are empty.
  • Finally, ask the pupil to draw the circles and fill in with correct words again in their notebook.


  1. Hi Rajesh,
    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I’ll be putting up a post about it on today’s TeachingEnglish Facebook page, if you’d like to check there for comments.


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  3. Hello Rajesh,
    Those activities are just amazing!!! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I will surely use them with my students.
    Best Regards,

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