Learning English with board games: does it work?

Of course it works! It’s an excellent resource for both teachers and students. The 3rd and 4th of ESO as well as the 1st of batxillerat students have devoted one session to play these board games in the English class.

How can you do it in your English class?

1- Organise the classroom in different corners, 1 corner per game (I tend to have 7 corners)

2- Make groups of maximum 3 students.

3- Use just 5 minutes to tell them the instructions to play every game.

4- Tell them they will have just 7 minutes to play every game.

5- Make heterogeneous and multi-level groups.

6- Walk around the classroom while they are playing and check their English (correct them when necessary).

7- Time their participation in the board games and tell them to move to a different corner once the 7 minutes are over. ONLINE TIMER


  • Students wish to play board games for a longer time. So: more time and less board games, maybe 15 minutes and 3 board games instead of 7.
  • Monitoring them does not necessarily mean correcting them all the time. Us teachers should do it just when they make a huge mistake because correcting them systematically may weaken their self-esteem and their confidence. It’s important to let them speak and flow at their own pace because what really matters is that they somehow communicate in English!
  • Using gamification in class is fun and practical but doing that once a month is more than enough.

Let’s see the mutliple benefits board games have when learning a language…

Benefits of playing board games
My Board Games in English Box
BOARD GAMES (click on the board games to get more info)PROS AND CONS
The Art of Conversation (TAOC)

It is a conversation game based on questions
related to a wide range of topics.
It is suitable for all ages. It’s not a quiz
and never about who knows most.
Rather it provides the ideal blend of fun,
interesting, thought-provoking ways to enjoy
relationships as you get to know others, and yourself, better.
– Lots of varied questions on different topics (300)
– For all ages
– Excellent ice-breaker or warm-up before starting an English session
– An opportunity to get to know their classmates better

– Some questions are for adults
– Students find it boring
– Not very dynamic

Story Cubes (Rory’s) and Story Teller Dice (Tiger)

Both are used to tell stories
(either fantastic or more realistic ones) and
use one’s imagination. The game is simple:
use images to create cooperative and inspiring stories.
– They foster creativity and imagination
– They can be played both to improve speaking and writing competences
– Many variations: fantasy, action, voyages… which can be combines
– They can be played in any language
– The stories are original and funny most of

the times
– Students like it

– Easy to play
– Cooperative

– Better for advanced English students
(they have more vocabulary and a better
command of grammar)

Sussed (Games to Get)

From your scenario card one player reads
aloud a question and its answers (A,B,C).
Choose which answer is closest to the truth for you.
The other players will have to guess which
answer you may have chosen.
The one who gets more matches wins!
A great game to prove how well you know the other player.
– Students talk about themselves
– Students get to know their clasmates better
– Students love it!
– It may lead to spontaneous conversations among advanced students

– For all ages
– Better to improve pronunciation and oral comprehension
Guess What (Tiger) NO LINK AVAILABLE

It’s a very easy and fun description game.
Players take turns describing an image on a
drawn card to their partner.
The describing team gets a point for each card
they guess successfully and the opposing team
gets a point for each card they pass on or
make gestures on. An excellent party game!
– Surprisingly it is one of the students’ favourite board games
– Can be played in teams
– For all ages (even for primary education students)
– Easy images to describe
– Everyone participates

– Sometimes they lack vocabulary to describe the image and they end up using gestures
– Not many cards

True or False (Lagoon)

One player reads out a statement and
the others must decide if it is the truth or
a lie, fact or fiction, true or false
– Students learn about curious facts and false myths
– They learn new vocabulary and expressions
– Good for improving their pronunciation and oral comprehension

-Some questions are very difficult for teenagers
– A little bit boring
– It’s not their piece of cake!
Brain Box English (Lagoon)

It’s a visual memory game.
The object of these fun little boxes is to
study the card for 10 seconds and then
answer the question on the roll of a die.
If the question is answered correctly the card
is kept and the person with the most cards
at the end is the winner.
– Fun and fast-paced
– Improves visual recall
– For all ages
– Small portable pack
– The students’ favourite!

– Not very communicative
– For intermediate or advanced English learners

– IDEA: Questions should be organised in levels of difficulty!
TeReo English (Tereo)

Great family game to practise and improve English. There are different cards with a wide range of selected activities like: reading, speaking, pronunciation, drawing, mimics, performing and guessing. It’s really complete!
– Family board game
– 7 minutes are not enough to play this board game, you’ll need a whole session!
– Varied and dynamic
– Different teams can play the game
– Different competences to work out
– Adapted to all levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced
– Creative and varied
– Students think it’s cool because they can play it in big teams!

– Some activities may be too easy or difficult if the groups are homogeneous

Related articles:

The Impact of Board Games on EFL Grammar Retention

Playful Learning in the EFL Class

The Effect Of Using Board Games In Reducing Language Anxiet And Improving Oral Performance

SMARTies: Using a board game in the English classroom for edutainment and assessment

Effects of Board Game on Speaking Ability of Low-proficiency ESL Learners

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