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10 Best Free Printable Board Games for ESL Classrooms

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Free Printable Board Games

If you want to get shy students to communicate in English, sometimes the best thing to do is to get them comfortable.

So you put them in pairs, and you let them do something fun in English with their partner. That’s where these free printable board games work best.

Most require dice and printouts. As long as you monitor your students, these free printable board games style activities can be a big success to get everyone speaking in English.

Without further ado, here are the 10 best free printable board games that can get your students speaking in your ESL and oral communication classes.

1. Snakes and Ladders Board Game

Snakes and Ladders

If you want to practice numbers, print out this snakes and ladders game! All it requires is a dice and game board worksheet.

If you land on the bottom of a ladder, you climb up to that square. But if you land on the head of a snake you slide down! You start at the bottom, and you want to try to go all the way to the top.

2. Talktastic Board Game

06 Talktastic

The Talking Gameboard is one of those great filler ESL activities to use with extra time at the end of class. All in all, it lasts for a good 15 minutes.

In groups of two, students roll the dice and move their game pieces. You’ll need to be a bit prepared by providing the material, but trust me it pays off big.

When they land in a square, they’ll ask their partner the question in the box. Accordingly, their partner responds until they go around the entire game board.

Despite having rules to only speak in English, there’s never enough time you can emphasize this point.

3. Talking Bingo

09 Talking Bingo

Stand-up bingo is a stupid-simple twist to Bingo.

The purpose is to find other students who can answer yes to questions on the bingo sheet. When they ask a question and get a yes answer, they mark X on their Bingo sheet.

The first student to fill out their sheet with a line comes to the teacher as the winner.

Students don’t want to be handcuffed in their classes. These mixer activities alleviate some of that stress.

4. Dice Questions

Dice Questions

Each number on the small dice corresponds to a type of question – who, what, when, where, why, and have you ever. The big dice are worth a point value.

Students roll the dice. When the student asks a successful question, they earn that value of points. Keep track of points in hopes this gets them talking.

5. Would You Rather

20 Would You Rather

“Would you rather” questions are great because there are only two answers! And the other person has to provide one of two potential answers.

Stand up and ask “would you rather” questions until you get tic-tac-toe on both game boards.

6. Reverse Quiz Show

Reverse Quiz Show

Out of all the ESL games on this list, this activity never fails me. Not a single time… It’s even unsilenced by the quietest kids.

The thing about Reverse Quiz Show is that it always boosts students talking time. I’ve had all levels of students enjoy this ESL game. They just have to know how to play.

Instead of answering questions like in a quiz show, students are making the questions. Each card has a word with a point value. Similar to Jeopardy, you create 5 categories. Each category has 5 questions with harder cards as a higher point value.

In groups of 4, students pick the category and point value. After flipping over the card, the fastest group to raise their hands make a question. Give a countdown for how fast they have to respond. Don’t be afraid to give negative points if they are too slow to respond or make an incorrect question. Students get quite competitive when you tally points. And this is a good thing.

7. Detective Clues

Detective Clues

Because your students are usually chained down at their desks every class, this ESL lesson will get them off their feet.

In groups of four, students will walk around the ESL classroom searching for clues. While one student is the secretary, the other three are detectives.

The detectives memorize each clue in English. They return to the secretary who writes down the clue – of course, all in English.

Finally, once all the clues are found, the student detectives solve the puzzle.

8. Top 10 Jobs

Top 10 Jobs ESL Worksheets

This Family Feud-style ESL worksheet helps kids reflect on their future jobs.

Let them guess the top 10 jobs students in North America want to be.

They might be surprised by how different it is from their home country.

9. Game of Geese

Number Boardgame

The purpose of this board game activity is to practice numbers. It’s simple and appropriate for Grade 1 and under.

In this activity, you need a dice and a partner. For each square that you land on, say the number on the square. Take turns until you reach the end of the board game.

10. Classic Tic-Tac-Toe

Tic Tac Toe

Everyone has to learn the classic game board tic-tac-toe in their life. Nowadays, you can even find this board game at playgrounds.

This board game has 12 tic-tac-toe grids. Students go in pairs and take turns going first and second. They write down X and O in the grids until the winner gets 3 in a row.

What’s Next?

Today, we’ve listed our 10 best free printable board games.

Now, it’s up to you to decide which ones are the perfect fit for teaching.

Do you know of any free printable board games to help students learn?

Please let us know with a comment below.

5 Comments

  1. My students absolutely love these games and your speaking practice ones too.

    I also have my intermediate/upper intermediate students ‘teach’ these as though they were the teacher. Their confidence had grown exponentially and the range and variety of lexis astounds me.

    I often implement, with a little modification, these ideas for young learners too with similar results.

  2. The best game you can have free (well you need to make some effort) – chess. You can create it with everything! You can print board, you can draw it, you can print figures, you can create figure with plasticine or whatever! If you need an easy access to this game, which is not so complicated.

  3. These are very useful games but I don’t understand them well. How do I play them. Videos are needed!!
    Best regards

  4. Very interesting games even for kids and adults, to keep them away from gadgets and adults from feeling bored and sleepy.
    Very useful for me as an ESL teacher.

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