Game Plan

100 most common words in English

Level: Intermediate (and above)

Location: Connected classroom

Skills Focus: vocabulary / 100 most common English words

Game: Quizicon

Nothing too remarkable here.  What you see below is what you get.

There are a number of ways you can do this:

Open Class

Your learners may simply like completing this as a collaborative activity in the classroom.  Present the game for all to see and press start after you’ve read out the instructions.  Then ask your learners to shout out words and see how many you can get as a class in 5 minutes.

A competitive element

Really the same set up as above but instead of shouting out the answers you put your learners into small groups and you give them five minutes to brainstorm and write down words they think will appear on the Quizicon board.  When the timer runs out reset it and tell your learners they get a point for each of the words they’ve listed that appear on the Quizicon board.

Fast Finishers

Sometimes a computer room activity can be completed by one  or a few groups ahead of the others. Give them this game to occupy them while others finish the other set activity.

Hurried Homework

Some learners simply crave a bit of homework that is educational, offers fun but is also a challenge.  I set up an edmodo site for an adult intensive course and this is one of the activities I posted for learners to ‘Do try this at home‘.

Turn Taking

Another team activity where teams take it in turns to guess a word.  If they guess a word right they get a point get it wrong and it passes to the next team. Continue until time runs out and then add up the points and declare a winner.

Memory Test

If a significant number of words were not guessed in a previous Turn Taking class then a return to this game (if your learners are willing) could prove a challenging memory test.  Generally, the game proceeds very quickly at the beginning as learners remember the words they remember and it gets progressively more difficult as they progress near and past where they reached last class.

100% Correct Challenge

Offer a prize or similar incentive (I offered less homework for a short period) to the first person who could present me with proof that they had successfully completed all of the words. I reasoned that even if they did this by cheating it would have required a level of ingenuity that deserved rewarding.



A Subversive Satirical Simulation

Level: Upper intermediate+/mature students

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Reading/writing (reading comprehension check)

Language focus: Reading

Game: McVideo Game

This is simulation game is a parody of the fast food chain McDonalds taking quite a negative view of the production process which you, the plater, become implicit in.  There’s a lot to get to grips with in this game as you jump back and forth between the many areas involved in production whilst at the same time attempting to drive profits for the company up.  This quite complex game has a thirty page tutorial which is what we’ve used to base a reading and comprehension activity on.  Enjoy.


Print out a copy of the McVideo Game Worksheet.  The first page is the Teacher’s copy and contains the questions and their answers.  The students’ copy contains 27 questions.   You may consider this a lot, which is what I did, so I divided the class into pairs and asked half the class to answer the even numbered questions (2,4,6 etc) and the others the odd numbered questions (1,3,5 etc).

Mcvideo game worksheet

Pre Activity

Hand out a copy of the worksheet to each pair and ask them to read and make a guess at any of the answers.

Deal with any language problems as you monitor.

Brief feedback on possible answers and any difficult language.

Reading activity

In the computer room direct students to the game and the tutorial.

Explain that they can’t play the game unless they complete all the questions with the correct answers.

Ask them to read the tutorial and answer as many questions as they can.

Encourage students to ask you, peers or look up online any difficult language contained in the tutorial.

Fast finishers can work on the other questions (odd or even).

If a pair finishes check their answers and then allow them to play the game.

Post Reading activity

In the classroom feedback on the answers.

Write any new language items on the board and elicit meanings/ definitions/ example sentences.

In pairs they take it in turns to define language on the board for their partner to identify.

Students make a note in their notebooks on new language.


Tell students that now they have read and understood the tutorial they can now play the game better than if they hadn’t.  Tell them to play the game for 15 minutes and after that to make a note of their best score.  Next class compare scores and get the highest scoring student to explain how they think they did so well – what was their secret to success.



9 Odd Games

Level: Upper intermediate

Location: Classroom/ No computers

Skills Focus: Reading/ Speaking

Language Focus: Descriptions of games

This is an activity where you don’t need any technology.  Learners read a description of some games and decide if they are ‘real’ games or ‘made up’.



Print off a copy of the ’8 odd games’ for each pair of learners.  Cut up the worksheet so you have separate titles, screenshots and game descriptions.

9 Odd Games

Pre activity

Dictate three questions as naturally as possible in chunks (/):

  • What is the strangest game/ you’ve ever played?
  • What did you/ have to do/ in the game?
  • Would you recommend it/ to anyone else?

Learners ask each other and answer the questions.


  1. Hand out the game descriptions and ask learners to read them and to separate them into two piles ‘real games’ or ‘made up games’.  Encourage them to justify their decisions to their partner.
  2. Pairs compare their two piles with another group and discuss.
  3. Tell them they are all ‘real games’ and none are made up.
  4. Ask them to identify and highlight language that is specific to games.
  5. Ask them to identify any difficult language and ask the class to help with a definition or provide one yourself.
  6. Ask learners to match the titles to the game descriptions (the original uncut copy of the handout is the answer).
  7. Hand out the screenshots and ask them to put them face down in a pile.  They take it in turns to turn a screenshot over and discuss which game they think it is and why.
  8. Feedback on the name, screenshot (brief verbal description to identify the screenshot) and the description.

Post activity

Here are a few suggestions of what you could ask learners to do.

  • Learners rank the games in order of strangest to least strange and discuss differences with another group.
  • At home research a name, screenshot and description for a game.  Next class collect them in and repeat the activity above using all the learners’ own material.
  • Learners use the language they identified as ‘game language’ to write a description for a game they ‘make up’ – description and title.
  • Learners research a strange game and write a description for homework to tell the class about. NOTE be prepared to monitor this as you may wish to censor some of the games learners find.



Monkey Madness Speaking Activity

Level: Pre-intermediate

Location: Connected Classroom

Skills Focus: Speaking

Language focus: In-game vocabulary

Game: Monkey Go Happy

In my experience I’ve found that young language learners can assimilate and produce language above their level if they have an incentive to do so. Many times forms of digital play provide this incentive and learners can respond both to the challenge of the game as well as the language elements.  Here’s such a game.


Download the Monkey Go Happy Presentation (see below).  It’s worth nothing that there are some language elements here that are generally above the level of my learners.  You could pre-teach some elements but while learners are engaged and enjoying an activity I prefer to deal with language reactively.  Sometimes if you give your learners a chance to produce language freely like this you can be pleasantly surprised.

There’s also a Monkey Madness walkthrough here if you need help.  The questions on this webpage can be clearly seen but you have to highlight the hidden text next to the numbers to see the answers.

NOTE There are 17 slides of which 15 are screenshots of the different stages of the game Monkey Go Happy.


  1. Tell the class they are going to see some pictures from a game they are going to play later.  Either do the activity open class or, if they are up to it, tell them to discuss the answer to each question in small groups.
  2. Show each slide for thirty seconds before moving to the next.  Help your learners with any language difficulties.
  3. When all the pictures and questions have been covered, OR when your learners start to lose their attention, stop the activity.
  4. As a follow up you could test your learners’ memory and ask them to write down words from each of the screen shots.  You can show the pictures again for 30 seconds to help them.


  1. Put learners into pairs or small groups.
  2. Elicit how to do each stage of the game from a pair/ group.
  3. If they do well let them come up to the board together and take turns to complete a single screen of the game.

Post Play

  • Learners test each other on some of the new vocabulary.
  • Learners make a game dictionary and translate words into their native language.
  • Learners choose one of the screenshots and write about it (the instructions, a story etc)

Monkey Go Happy Presentation (PDF)


Valentine’s Typing

Level:  Primary

Language Focus: Alphabet

Skills Focus: Pronunciation

Game: Valentine’s Typing

This game is used to practice and consolidate the pronunciation of the letters of the alphabet.  It can be played either in a connected classroom or a computer room.

Hearts float up the screen with a letter inside.  Type the letter in and the heart disappears.  Stop the hearts from floating up to the top of the screen.

Pregaming Activity

Lower levels
To do this you need to have a data projector, a computer with internet access and Flash player installed. Seat the class in rows in front of the data projector. Go to the game and skip the instructions so that the game is started as quickly as possible.

  1. As the hearts start to float up look at the screen and call out the letters. If you want, don’t touch the keyboard and point to the letters. This means that you lose the game but encourage the learners to call out the letters as this is happening.
  2. When the game ends start again and encourage the learners to call out the letters but this time you move to the keyboard and type in the letters that the learners call out. At this stage it is not necessary for you to look at the game on the data projector.
  3. When you have finished a game ask for a volunteer or nominate one of your learners to come and stand by the keyboard.
  4. Start a new game. The learner at the keyboard now listens to the others calling out the letters and the learner types in the corresponding letters on the keyboard.
  5. Move to the computer room so the class can play the game in pairs (see gaming activity below).

Higher levels
To do this you need to have a data projector, a computer with internet access and Flash player installed. Seat the class in rows in front of the data projector. Go to the game and put the instructions on the board. Choral drill (all the class reading at the same time) the instructions on the screen. Then start the game. Pretend you don’t know how to play the game at the start and elicit from the class what you should be doing? As the class tells you what to do play the game. Then conduct the game from stage 3) above.

Gaming Activity

In the computer room sit two learners (A and B) to a computer. Learner A sits in front of the screen with their arms folded. Their role is to “look at the letters and tell your partner”. Learner B sits in front of the keyboard and CAN NOT see the screen. Start the game and monitor to ensure that Learner A is calling out the letters in English (correct pronunciation) and learner B is not taking a look at the screen. Once a pair completes a stage or loses a life the learners can swap roles/ seats.

A Christmas Game Gap Fill

Level: Intermediate+

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Reading/writing (gap fill)

Language focus: Christmas vocabulary

Game: Monkey Go Happy ChristmasPreparation

  1. Print off a copy of the Monkey Go Happy Christmas Gap Fill Activity.  Keep the Teacher’s copy for yourself and make a copy of the gap fill activity for each pair of learners in your class.

Pre Play

  1. Hand out the Gap fill activity and ask pairs to circle any words they don’t know.
  2. Learners compare the words they have circled with another pair.
  3. Ask class if there are any words they don’t understand and describe, define or translate them as necessary.
  4. Ask pairs to look at the spaces on the page.  Ask class what word do they think is missing from the first line.  They can write their guess in pencil.  Accept any that are linguistically correct rather than on your copy.
  5. After covering the first three lines in open class get learners to work in pairs to guess and write a possible answer in each space.
  6. Learners compare with another group.


  1. Ask learners to bring their gap fills to the computer room.
  2. Tell learners they are going to play a game and correct their guesses with the answers in the game.
  3. Learners play the game and correct any of the sentences as they see fit.
  4. Stop the activity when they have finished the game and the gap fill activity has been completed.

Post Play

  1. Learners compare their answers with another pair.
  2. In open class discuss the answers and decide if any different answers are wrong or if both are right.
  3. Learners compare their answers with the original Monkey Go Happy Christmas walkthrough and discuss any differences.






A Teacher Gaming Dictation

Level: Pre-intermediate/ Intermediate

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Listening/ Gaming dictation

Language focus: Guessing meaning from descriptions

Game: The Smurfs’ Last ChristmasPreparation

Print off a copy of The Smurfs’ Last Christmas walkthrough for yourself.  You’ll use this to base your dictation on.  Read the walkthrough and think about how you might define or describe the objects listed in the walkthrough.  You may want to play the game using the walkthrough so you get a better idea of the objects.  That is, what they look like, where they are etc.


1. Explain you are going to dictate a picture.  If they don’t know any of the words they should ask “What’s a _______?”

2. Dictate the following picture:

3. There’s a room.  In the middle of the room there is a bench(a).  On the bench there is a basket (b) with some red berries(c) in it.  To the left of the table there is a violin(d) and a musical score (e).  On the right of the bench there is a handsaw (f) and a pair of tweezers (g).

Definitions I used were:

a. It’s like a table.

b. You use it to carry a picnic in.  Little Red Riding Hood carries one (I then explained who she was but my learners are generally familiar with the story).

c. A kind of fruit.  Small like this (demonstrated by drawing it on a whiteboard) and grow on trees.

d. A type of musical instrument (mimed playing one).

f. You cut wood with it and it makes this sound (made the sound then elaborated with a mime).

g. Small metal things you use to pluck your eyebrows (another mime here – “Ouch!”)


1. Before you go to a computer room explain you are going to continue this dictation but instead of drawing they are going to play a computer game.

2. Stress they will need to continue to ask you about difficult words.

3. Go to the computer room and use the walkthrough to dictate learners through the game.

4. If learners find a word difficult repeat a sentence to encourage learners to identify and isolate the word to repeat in a question.


Teacher: “Add some unfreezing dust to the bush on the left.”

Learner: “What?”

Teacher: “Add some unfreezing dust to the bush on the left.”

Learner:”What is* unfreezing dust”

Teacher: “It’s in that blue bottle you got from the first house in the village.”

Learner: “Ok”

Teacher: “Add some unfreezing dust to the bush on the left.”

Learner: “What is a bush?”

Teacher: “It’s like a tree but it’s very small. Can you see it in the forest there?  It’s white and on the left.”

*may need a little work on explaining the use of is/are with countable/uncountable nouns and plural/singular nouns.

5. Continue until interest wanes or a time you decided on before the class (20 minutes to half an hour) has elapsed.

Post Play

  • Test learners on some of the vocabulary in a fun light way.
  • Make a copy of the walkthrough available (either a photocopy or access to the online version) for learner’s to use at home to complete the game.

The Smurfs’ Last Christmas walkthrough.doc



Argument Wars

Level: Advanced+

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Reading/ Discussing choices

Language focus: Guessing meaning from context

Game: Argument Wars

In this game you play a lawyer working on a case in court.  You have to choose and present your arguments to the judge while also arguing with the opposing lawyer.  The lawyer who presents the best argument wins.


Teachers have been using this game at our school for over a year and they think it’s not only great reading practice but also a great platform to present and discuss some very important issues.  This game is a little complicated with lots to read and do but the nice thing about this game is that there is a tutorial at the beginning which teaches you how to play the game.

There are 8 different cases to take on and play which include (by name of case and theme):

Brown Vs Board of Education           School segregation based on race.

Gideon VsWainwright           Should criminal defendants pay for their own lawyers.

*Hazelwood Vs Kuhlmeier     Should students be able to write what they want in a school paper.

*In Re Galt Vs California           Juvenilles in courts have a right to have a say.

Miranda Vs Arizona          Criminal suspects have the right to remain silent.

*New Jersey Vs T.L.O.          Students have the total right to keep things private at school.

Snyder Vs Phelps          All people have a right to express their opinions publicly.

Texas Vs Johnson          Is it right to burn the American flag?


By the way, you can register if you want so that your games will be saved but if you only plan a short stint on argument wars then answering ‘no thanks’ on the ‘sign into your account’ means you play an unregistered game.


I’ve found the best way to introduce these themes is to have each one written on the board.

Discuss each one open class and then choose the theme that generates the most language and interest.

Divide the class into two groups and get one to prepare arguments for and arguments against.

Place students in pairs of one student from each of the group and ask them to present their arguments to their partner and make a decision.

Take a class vote on which argument was the most convincing.


Students access the game on multiple computers in pairs of like minded students.  That is, two who were against the idea or two who were for the idea.

Students play the game making a note of any difficult language for later.

Post Play

Back in open class students discuss the game, how they did, what arguments were the strongest (on either side) and any language they made a note of.

A different case could be set for homework or alternatively students prepare their own cases based on agreed themes in the class.






Vortex Point 2

Level: Pre-intermediate – Upper Intermediate

Location: Connected Classroom

Skills Focus: Reading and Speaking/ writing

Language focus:  In-game language

Game: Vortex Point 2

This is the second part of Vortex Point, a game and lesson plan we blogged before the summer.  Follow that link to check out how we used this game in a connected classroom.  We chose to return to Vortex Point as not only did we find it a great game to use in the classroom but also because our learners enjoyed it so much too.


You can find a copy of the Vortex Point walkthrough here.  A walkthrough is a set of instructions that will walk you through the game from the beginning right through to the end telling you how to complete it. If you’ve got this in your hand while you are playing this with a class you can use it if you get stuck.


1) Before you click play the game dictate three questions as naturally as possible OR if you played the first part of Vortex Point recently then elicit elements about that story:

What is the story about?    OR    What was the last story about?

What are the names of the people in it?    OR    What were the names of the people in it?

What do they do?    OR    What happened in the story?

Play the opening sequence in the game and ask learners to write down three predictions about what will happen in the story.


  1. Start the game using the walkthrough.  If the walkthrough is talk to an in-game character take control of the game yourself.  If the the walkthrough is do something then ellicit suggestions from your learners as to what this might be.
  2. When text appeared I asked for a volunteer to read it out and focused on pronunciation elements and drilled with the class as a whole.
  3. Below is a screenshot of the first character that speaks and it’s the second thing she says:
  1. I asked learners about a number of language items as they came up that either I judged as interesting or they asked about.  I encouraged them take turns reading out the speech and then asking questions about anything they weren’t sure about (whether it was language or story line).
  2. With a higher level that I wanted to practice writing and the narrative tenses with I would stop the game at intervals and ask them to write what was happening in the story using prompts such as “what did they say?”, “What happened?” and “What does your character (the detective) think he should do?”
  3. I continued the game in this way for half an hour (until I felt the activity would end on a high).

Post Play

  • It’s a good idea to get personal reactions from your learners on what they thought of the game.  If they liked it and which bits they thought were fun.
  • Another activity is to get learners to recount what they saw of the game as a story to a partner.
  • Brainstorming new vocabulary elements from the game onto the blackboard and getting learners to create or expand on their Vortex Point dictionary.
  • Next class you could ask students to come to the board and play until they reach the point you stopped at in the last class and then continue.  Word of warning – some of your learners may have gone home and completed the game and so may reveal and spoil key story elements.
Note There is a video walkthrough of the game you can watch and pause at for students to discuss, predict etc which is useful if you want to quickly fast forward or back to a section to discuss. The video can be found at the bottom of the page here:

An Online Game For Halloween

Level:  Intermediate

Location: Computer room

Skills Focus: Reading

Language focus:  In-game language

Game: Darker Ride Escape

Here’s quite a spooky online game to use with your class right in time for Halloween.  You find yourselves trapped inside a haunted house train ride at the fair and you need to solve various problems to be able to escape.


You may like a copy of the Darker Ride walkthrough for you to help any learners who get stuck while playing the game.  I never recite from this walkthrough but rather read, take in the information and then ask them questions that’ll guide them towards the answer.  This is a different walkthrough to one your learners will be using, by the way.


  1. Learners write down 1 – 11 in their notebooks before closing them and folding their arms.
  2. Meanwhile open the game on a screen that the whole class can see.
  3. Tell them they are going to see 11 rooms in a spooky halloween game.  When the game appears ask them where they are and to predict what’s in there.
  4. Tell them you are going to show them a room in the game for 10 seconds and they are to tell their partner what they can see as quickly as possible.
  5. Show the class the 11 rooms for ten seconds each (moving to the left) and when you reach the end go back to the first screen.
  6. Ask learners to open their notebooks and write down as many nouns from each room next to the numbers.  Tell them they don’t have to be in the same order but that you’ll be impressed if they are.
  7. Reshow the 11 rooms again eliciting vocabulary.  Praise those who get “good” words, most words and most rooms in the correct order.


1.  Take your learners to the computer room.

2.  Tell them they can talk and ask questions to anyone in the room but it has to be in English.  If  they don’t you’ll come and start the game again (click on the address in the tab at the top to highlight the game’s web address and press return.  The game reloads at the beginning).

Ask them to open two web pages:

Play The Game

Read The Clues




3. learners play the game using the clues to help them.  Any new vocabulary they should record in their notebooks next to the numbers they wrote down in class.

4. Stop the game when someone/ a group finishes the game.  Other learners have 2 -5 minutes (you decide) to finish the game by asking the fast finishers questions.

Post Play

  • Learners draw and write a description of a 12th room.
  • Learners write the wakthrough.