Games with an English language component can be fun, competitive and motivating. I learned a lot in my TEFL course, but didn’t come across these basic activities until well into my first year of teaching. I’ve used them regularly ever since. Be aware that some adult students don’t want to acknowledge that they are playing “games”, so these two conveniently fall into the category of “vocabulary activities”.
Divide the class into two teams, and have each team send one representative to the front of the class. Each representative sits on a chair with his/her back to the board.
You write a word behind each representative, and the team has to explain or define that word so that the representative can guess it. The first representative to correctly guess the word written behind him/her gets a point for the team and the round is over. Two new representatives come to the front. You may have to explicitly forbid pantomime or using any form of the word on the board (“Teacher”…a person who teaches) and of course any translation.
Stop the bus/Scategories
Divide the class into groups of three or four people each. On the board, write five or more categories (foods, nouns with more than five letters, jobs, adjectives to describe people, animals, capitol cities). Give the students a letter (H); their task is to come up with one example of each category that begins with that letter (hot dog, hamburger, hotel receptionist, helpful, hyena, Havana). I usually do an example with the whole class before we start the real competition. When a group has one example for each category written down, they say “Stop the bus!” and you check. If their answers are good you can continue with the same categories but a different letter. Another version is giving them a time limit and seeing how many unique examples of each category they can come up with in that time (“unique” meaning no other group writes it).