February 21, 2015

Toronto, Canada

It is important to have some online ESL games ready to play in case your students get bored, or you get bored or you just need to change the dynamic of class. Games are also great for individual and group classes. In group classes you can get your students to interact and use the language while you just monitor. These games can be played in face to face classes as well as online classes.

One game that I like to start some of my classes with is a simple vocabulary game. You just write some letters in a column in Microsoft Word, share your screen with your students and tell them you want fruits and vegetables that start with these letters, or animals, places, etc. (Skype and most other similar programs have a share screen option).


Probably my favourite game to use with groups and individuals is 20 Questions. If you don’t know to play, it is super easy. Student get 20 yes or no questions to guess either a person, place or thing that another student is thinking of. This is a great game because it gets students asking questions properly and it gets them joking and having fun.

Taboo is a great game for English learners as well. This game only works in groups of three or larger, you can also play in teams. One student has to get the others to guess the word at the top of the card, without using the words written below. This is a timed game, so students can have one or two minutes to see how many they can guess. There are a couple websites that you can use: play taboo and online taboo. These sites display the traditional game card (but you could just send your students some words). You can also play pictionary with these cards and Microsoft Paint if you and your students are able to share screens.

Boggle is another game that you can play only if you are able to share your screen. Boggle is played by finding words in a group of letters that are mixed together. You can only use a letter one time in a word, the student with the most and biggest words after one or two minutes wins.  You can find a free version at Word Twist.


Do you have any other games you use when teaching English online? Please leave a comment and let us know.


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4 thoughts on “Online ESL Games

  1. Hi, I love these ideas. I teach English literature, not language, but it is impossible to teach literature without teaching writing, i.e. grammar, punctuation and other categories of rules for usage. I also have studied other languages along the way and I have three small children whom I homeschool/practise home-based education with. So, I am very interested in the process of language acquisition. I am considering getting into teaching ESL, and so far I have found your site to be an excellent resource. I’m looking forward to what you will come up with next. Thanks for your efforts.


    1. Hi Shala, thanks for the kind words! I am glad that you are finding my site useful. I am very interested in the process of language learning too and I think I will be for the rest of my life. I have been working a lot lately but I plan on updating the website soon with new posts.


  2. Hi, Mike! Thanks for all the work you have put in compiling this list and bravo on the excellent and informative website.

    I’m an online English teacher living in South West France. I got started working for EF Englishtown where I learned the ins and outs internet teaching. I left Englishtown when they were re-structuring; getting rid of lots of senior teachers and lowering the hourly rate of newbies (like I was at the time), in favor of hiring teachers who worked in call center-like offices in countries like South Africa and The Philippines.

    While I have been able to build up my own list of private online students since then, I did a stint for a few years with a French company — 1 to 1 English: http://1to1progress.com/fr/. You could add them to your list. At the time I worked with them, they were a start-up (circa. 2013). I gave telephone lessons to French business people. The company seems to have grown considerably, offering other languages and advancing from the phone to internet technology. I enjoyed working with them.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Michele! I will add them to the list. Also, for those looking for a job, I recently checked out the EF website and they are currently hiring.

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