Dictionary Race is a simple yet versatile ESL game that is great for developing dictionary skills with students. In this activity, the teacher gives students a list of unfamiliar words. These words may be from a text that they are going to read or from a new unit they are about to study. Students work in teams with a dictionary (traditional book dictionary, mobile phone dictionary or using a computer – as is appropriate) to find the meaning of as many words on their list as possible in a set amount of time and make some notes to help them remember. After, students must explain the meaning of their words without the use of the dictionary. The team who can successfully explain the meaning of the most words is the winner. Encourage students to explain the words in English and not simply in their native tongue.
- Put students into of groups 2 – 3.
- Give each group access to at least one dictionary (paper or digital as is appropriate/available.
- Next, give students a list of words and explain to them that they need to find the meaning of the words and be able to report them back to the class in English. Explain that they have only 3 minutes to complete the task (you can change the time as required. Less time can make sure that students stay focused during the task).
- After the time has passed, the group who can explain the most number of words is the winner. Encourage students to explain the words in English.