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3 Simple Online ESL Games

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Ever sit down to plan a lesson and your mind just goes blank? Yeah, it happens a lot, most especially when teaching online. So today I want to share 3 simple, low-prep online teaching games to help you with your lesson planning. So let's get straight into it!

1. WORD CHAIN - I went to market

For this activity, you don't need any materials, though some flashcards or pictures of the target vocabulary might be helpful for lower-level students.

  • To get started review your target vocabulary one by one, laying out a flashcard of those words as you do.

  • Next, start the game by saying, "I went to the market and I bought some (bananas)" adding in one of your target vocabulary words. Take away the flashcard of that word as you do.

  • Next, your student then repeats that sentence back, "I went to the market and I bought some (bananas) and some (apples)". You then take away the apple flashcard.

Keep going until either you or your student forgets one of the previously bought items.


This game is super simple and to play all you need are some flashcards of your target vocabulary.

  • Start by reviewing the flashcards one by one using chants and TPR as you do.

  • Next, place three flashcards out for your students to see, using a sentence to introduce them as you do. For example, I like to eat (bananas).

  • Make sure that one flashcard really stands out and sounds particularly odd when used in that sentence. For example, I like to eat (cars).

  • Ask your student which one is the odd one out and why. Depending on your students' level, try to have them use the word in a correct sentence.


For this activity, all you're going to need are two ESL flashcard pictures that look similar but that actually have subtle differences. Make the differences as hard or as easy as you like depending on your students' English level.

  • Start by introducing the key vocabulary one by one, again using chants and TPR as you do.

  • Next, introduce two similar flashcards and ask students to spot the difference!

  • Try and encourage students to reply using specific sentence structures, such as "This one has... this one doesn't have..."

Adjust the difficulty and sentence structures to suit your students.

So there you have it, three quick and easy online games to help with your ESL lesson planning. Try these fun games with your students in your online ESL class and let me know how it goes!

If you're new to online teaching then make sure to check out these tips to give you a professional on camera look!


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For flashcards and other teacher resources, check out the Mooncake English store




Phonics Curriculums:


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