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Secret Spies

ESL Secret Spies is a simple game for Kids. Its a great game to revise vocabulary and practice spelling in a fun and interactive way. Ciphers are always great fun and loved by young learners.

Activity Time: 10 mins +

Materials required: Scissors, paper, pens/pencils
Skills practiced: Vocabulary and spelling.
Level: Young learners


1. Write words on pieces of papers that you want the students to revise.
2. Cut up the words up into letters and give them to the students to put back into the correct order. Students write down the words that they decipher.
3. Get the students to make their own ciphers and swap them with the other students.
Find more great ideas here:

Create curiosity in the classroom

Grass Skirts

Grass skirts is a great activity to get the class up and out of their seats while still learning and revising their vocabulary. This activity is easy to set up and a great way to make revision fun. 

This game can be used with all levels. I have used this  game with FCE exam classes to revise phrasal verbs and young learners to practice vocabulary. 


Activity Time:  5 – 10 mins +
Materials required: One sheet with definitions of revision words printed on sheet. 
Skills practiced:Vocabulary revision
Level: All levels (Young learners, teens and adults)

1. Select a number of words you wish to revise. Get definitions for the words or write sentences with the target word missing and paste them into a word document. 

2. Print out one sheet per two students. Cut the definitions into strips but don’t cut all the way.  (See picture 2)

3. Put the students into pairs/groups. 

4. Explain to the students that only one student from each team can run up and take a definition. 

5. They then have to run back to their group and read the definition and figure out what the word is. When they think they know, they write it on the back of the definition and then show it to the teacher. If it is correct, they can go and get the next definition. If it is incorrect, they have to try again. (For weaker classes, write a word bank of possible answers.)

The first team to finish all the definitions are the winners. 

If you have any ideas or variations, please post a comment and share your thoughts.

Wordle In The Class

A very happy New Year and a welcome back to you all. 2013 is a new year and I have many fresh ideas to start the term anew.
Using Wordles in the ESL Classroom

So, what is a Wordle? A Wordle is simply a word cloud that can be great resource to teachers. This post will look at a number of ways they can be used in the ESL classroom.


Wordles can be a great way to introduce grammar. Not only can you use them to introduce a grammatical structure but you can also use them for revision. They are a great way to revise grammar in groups or individually.
1. Go to wordle.net.
2. Write a sentence that you want your class to study.
3. Give the Wordle to the students (or project it on the board!). They must reorganise the sentence in groups.

Use Wordles to teach Grammar.
Wordle here used with conditionals.

Summarize A Text

Use Wordles in class with texts
Before class copy the text from a reading to be covered in class. Paste the text into wordle.net and create a Wordle with the key words from the text.
This can then be shown to your class. In pairs, they have to decide what the text is going to be about. As an additional exercise, you can get your class to write a headline based on the Wordle.


Wordles can be a great way to improve students writing skills. I use Wordles with teens and exam classes (PET, FCE, CAE, CPE) as a way to improve their writing.Make a Wordle from students writing. Show it to the class and see which words are used most, how could they improve the vocabulary etc.

Create two or more Wordles of the same writing task and get your class to compare the language used.

Develop writing skills with wordles ESL


Wordles are a great way to revise key vocabulary covered in a unit. At the end of a unit, create Wordles with key words from the unit to help students remember key vocabulary. Wordle allows you to arrange the vocabulary alphabetically too.
Wordles are great for revision
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5 Ways To Use Music

This post will look at some of the ways you can use music in the classroom. Music is a great way to introduce a theme, change the mood, teach vocabulary or even just inspire a class discussion.
Music can be a great way to tap into students’ interests.The following five ideas are a great way to use music to practice English in the classroom. They are simple to set up and great fun in class.

Music story
Choose about 15 words that appear in the song and write them on the board. Next, get the students to work in groups of 3 or 4. In their groups, students choose 5 words from the board and write a story including these words. The chosen words should be underlined. Next, students listen to the song. Everybody stands up at the beginning of the song and when they hear the words that they have chosen to use in their story, they sit down and stand back up again, repeating this until they have listened to all five words.
The class can then talk about their story and the meaning of the song etc.

Error correction
Each student is given a copy of the song which contains mistakes like wrong words. In pairs, students look for and highlight the mistakes. The students listen to the song again, check and correct.

Listen and correct
Split a song into parts A and B. Part A will contain the first, third and fifth etc lines of the song and part B will have the second, fourth etc lines. Split students A and B. Students have to listen and fill in the missing sentences. To check and correct, students go through the song in pairs.

Listen and order
Cut a song into strips. Divide either into separate verses or lines, depending on the length of the song. Get the class to organize themselves in a line in the order that they think the song goes. Class listen to the song and put themselves in the order as they hear the sentence. As an alternative to this, you could split the class into two groups, giving each group a copy of the song cut into strips. Split the whiteboard into four sections. Before listening, the two groups have to put the song into the order they think is correct. They listen again and correct. The team with the most correct win.

Finally another simple task which can be done is remove the verbs, adverbs, adjectives etc from the song. Students work in pairs or groups to brainstorm the missing words.

Click here for more ways to use music in the ESL classroom.



Enigma is a quick and simple ESL game you can put together in no time. It’s a great ESL game for teens and adults of all levels but can be easily adapted for younger learners. It’s a great activity to practice question forming and practising vocabulary from previous lessons etc. It’s also an enjoyable way of creating fun and unusual stories and could even be used as creative writing starters.

Activity Time:  10 minutes +
Materials required: White board and marker.
Number of students: 2 +
Skills practiced: Listening, speaking, question forming and Vocabulary.
Level: All levels

1.Draw a crime scene on the board such as the example in the picture. 

ESL Lateral thinking logic games Enigma Problem solving
Enigma crime scene example

2.Students ask/answer yes or no questions.

3.Students have to work out what happened.

Lateral Thinking problems

Another way to encourage teen and adult students to speak is through using lateral thinking problems. These are easy to set up and I have found that students enjoy this story creating activity.

Students can work in pairs or in a group where they ask questions and the teacher can only give yes or no answers.

So, here are a number of lateral thinking problems with their answers.

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet are dead. They are in a locked room on the 20th floor. In the room, there is a table, a puddle and some broken glass. There is only one window in the room and the wind is blowing the curtains. Apart from the bodies of Romeo and Juliet, there is nothing else in the room. How did Romeo and Juliet die? 

Romeo and Juliet were actually goldfish. The wind blew over their bowl, and they suffocated on the floor. 

The Broken match
A man is found dead with a broken match in his hand. 

After their hot air balloon began to lose altitude, the passengers drew matches to see who would have to jump out in order to save the rest.

Looking for more puzzles ? Have a look here…