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Spelling / Vocabulary Game for ESL Classes


This spelling game helps ESL classes and students learn and / or review new vocabulary that may be learned during a unit, or a given period of time such as a week or a semester. Students work in groups and are rewarded based on the number of vocabulary words / phrases that they can come up with in short periods of time. The directions for this spelling game follow below:

Aim: Spelling - New Vocabulary Learning and Review

Activity: Spelling Game

Level: All levels


  • Write up a list of target vocabulary for the game. 50 - 100 vocabulary items work well for this game.
  • Create (collect together) appropriate cards for review. Cards should be created using prefixes, suffixes, first two letters, last two letters, etc. as in the example cards below. Phrases can use the beginning (or ending) letters of each word of the phrase.
  • Copy one group of spelling game cards for each group. Distribute to each group with the picture side down.
  • Instruct groups to have a separate sheet for each card.
  • Use a watch or timer to time each spelling game card (3 minutes for each card generally works well).
  • As the game begins, each group turns over the top card (as in Go Fish, Uno, etc.) and begins brainstorming on all the words they have learned using the prefix, suffix, first two letters, last two letters, etc.
  • Shout out "stop" and continue to the next card. Repeat until all cards have been used.
  • Use the vocabulary list created for review to check answers as a class. The group with the most correct vocabulary words or phrases wins.

Example Cards

di- -ment l.., c.., a..
-tion s.. m.. -ph
sc- -or t.. A.. A..
director, dialogue, direction entertainment, arrangement, management lights, camera, action!
promotion, direction, action stunt man autograph, photograph
script, screen actor, author the Academy Awards
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