Five grammar and vocabulary revision games and exercises

Title separator
vocabulary revision games

Apart from being a teacher of English, I’m also a student of other languages. It means that I can experience the teaching as well as learning process first-hand. I observe myself, students and other teachers, and try to draw conclusions. One of them concerns revising vocabulary and grammar.
Some time ago I noticed that as a student I enjoy and most of all need revisions at my Spanish lessons. I believe that they are an integral part of every lesson and special attention should be paid to them. If you develop a routine of revisions, your students will quickly get used to them and try to be prepared for every lesson.
Here are some of our favourite grammar and vocabulary revision games and exercises.

1. QUIZLET


Quizlet is an app which enables you to create sets of words for your classes. Students can access them on their smartphones or other electronic devices and practise by doing various exercises/games generated by the app. It’s a modern solution for flashcards and a fantastic tool for learning vocabulary. All our students love it and now can’t imagine studying new words in a different way! See these getting started videos and quick guide for students provided by Quizlet here.
How do we use it for in-class revisions? It’s simple. We print English words from the created sets and at the beginning of the lesson students need to build one sentence with two flashcards (we encourage them to be creative). If you work with groups, make them build and ask each other questions with words provided.
The other way we use it is to play a Taboo-like game. Students work in pairs and each of them has a few flashcards. One student tries to describe the word/phrase they have without using any keywords and the other guesses what that word or phrase is. This way students have a chance to use new vocabulary and you can check whether they know when and how to use it properly. This turns out to be a very dynamic activity and students come up with various ways of guiding each other to the right expression!

Get the Teacher’s account on Quizlet to get statistics on which items your students have problems with and focus on them during revisions

2. STORY CUBES


These are small cubes with images on all their walls designed to trigger ideas and stories. The basic idea behind Story Cubes is that you need to roll 9 dice and tell a story combining all 9 images that starts with “once a upon a time…”. Really simple and straightforward but does magic! There are various Story Cubes sets. Start from the original and explore – we recommend the Actions pack and Clues mix.
We use Story Cubes quite often during our classes, not only for vocabulary revision games. We give them to our students and they have to prepare a story (sometimes just sentences) based on images as well as words we provide them. It’s real fun as students can combine various ideas and create crazy and sometimes illogically amusing stories.
What’s more Story Cubes are a perfect tool to be used for grammar revisions. For example, you can make your students build conditional sentences relating to a few images from the cubes or practise past simple and past continuous tenses for story telling.

If you have less advanced students, try using 6 (or fewer) cubes instead of 9 at the beginning 

3. DIXIT

Dixit is a game which consists of a set of cards with very colourful and dreamlike illustrations. Our students really like them as they can build a lot of stories around them. Very often, they have to choose one card and using the words from the last class they need to build a story or describe cards to each other.
They are also perfect for practising past tenses when telling stories. You can basically let your students use all tenses using the cards, depending how you setup the task, for example:

  • Tell your students to pick one random card, look at the picture and tell what’s going to happen next.
  • Ask your students to choose one card and describe what is happening in the picture and how it makes them feel (present continuous vs present simple).
  • Use the card as a prompt for students to tell a story based on what they see in the card (past simple + past continuous).

Play the game with your students using the original rules to practice storytelling and introduce a bit of competition

4. TRANSLATION TASKS

Apart from vocabulary revision games, we’re also fans of translating sentences for revising. It may be seen as an old-fashioned way, but it will help intermediate/upper-intermediate students learn how to use new language in context. The most common way we do it is:

  • Give students 5-10 sentences in their mother tongue. They all should contain underlined words/phrases which you would like them to revise. Students need to translate sentences and recall English equivalents of the words from previous classes (if you want to make it more challenging, include various grammar points).
  • Provide students with 5-10 gapped sentences which they need to fill with English equivalents of the phrases in their mother tongue provided in brackets after the gaps. It is a less demanding version of the usual translation exercise, i.e. suitable for less proficient students.

Let your students amaze you and don’t require from them a one-to-one translation. It is all about conveying a message and students will come up with various surprising ways of saying the same thing.

5. GAPPED QUESTIONS

In order to make your students practise new words/phrases while speaking, it is also a good idea to give them gapped questions which they have to complete with the provided words which appeared during previous lessons. After completing them, students answer them. Avoid using closed (yes/no) questions when creating such a revision for your students. Depending on your students level you may:

  • Provide all the possible answers in a box
  • Give 20-30% more options than needed and make your students use the correct ones
  • Do not give students possible answers but develop the task in such a way that only one lexical class would fit (e.g. prepositions or verbs)
  • Create a multiple choice exercise with 3-4 answers for each gap

Make sure that students can infer the meaning of the sentences without the removed words

How about you? What kind of methods for reviewing language work for your students? Share you favourite ones in the comments below so we can use them during our lessons.


Read other teaching tips posts

Title separator

5 websites that will take your ESL lessons to the next level

Discover websites that can maximise your students’ learning opportunities and bring a little spark and creativity into the classroom.

How teaching with authentic materials benefits your students

Real-life resources can be successfully used both in ESL lessons and outside the classroom to develop students’ language skills. Read how authentic materials can benefit your students.

How to make the most of group activities in one-to-one classes

Using group activities with one-to-one classes may not seem particularly exciting or even doable for some teachers. Have you ever wondered how to adapt group activities to provide variety, as well as ensuring your one-to-one students enjoy and benefit from them? Read to discover our tips to consider.
vocabulary revision exercises

Six no- and low-prep vocabulary revision exercises which make students think in English

Discover six simple revision ideas you can use at the beginning or end of a lesson to consolidate your students’ knowledge and make them feel more confident about the vocabulary they learn.

ESL Brains Critical Reading Club

Discover our Critical Reading Club (CRC). Learn how to use it in your classroom and how it can benefit your students.

Making teaching English online easier with ESL Brains

Teaching English online now I started teaching online three years ago and I came to really enjoy this format. Despite its downsides, there are many benefits for teachers of doing lessons online. The obvious one is just the sheer amount of time you save when you don’t need to commute endlessly across the city. Plus, […]
teaching English to seniors

My tips for teaching English to seniors (60+)

Why writing about teaching senior learners? A few weeks ago, when I was thinking about my experience as an ESL teacher and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years, I must admit that I had a problem with finding something which would be eye-opening or that would surprise you. There are so many resources, professional […]

How to apply flipped classroom for teaching English with ESL Brains lesson plans

We have been publishing flipped lesson plans since 2019, and are really happy how popular they have become among our teacher community. We want to share with you what flipped classroom is, how it benefits students and how to use our worksheets to apply flipped classroom for teaching English in your classroom. What is flipped […]
Using speaking fluency activities for better English

Five no-prep speaking fluency activities for ESL students

Whether you teach low-level or advanced students, use these five speaking fluency activities to help them communicate better in English. You can use the activities as warm-ups, fillers, and whenever you feel that your students (and you!) need them.

Comments

Title separator

Leave a Reply

  1. Laia

    Hi, I use Kahoot and Jeopardy to revise grammar and vocabulary.

    1. Stan

      Do you use Kahoot during the lesson or assign kahoots as homework? I heard about the services but have never tried it out. What’s your opinion about it and which feature you like the most?

      1. Samnang Thorng

        Kahoot is better to use for warming up, revision and closing! Mostly I used it for these 3 purposes!

  2. Miss Petty

    My high school and adult ESL students LOVE Kahoot. It is good for fostering a little competition between students. I mostly use it in class to review vocabulary and grammar structures. I also use it for special holidays like Christmas or Halloween. Students can also download the app and play alone to review alone. ű

    The main restriction is that every student needs a mobile device or computer that is connected to the internet. In a smart classroom or with students who have data on their phones it is easy. But sometimes it doesn’t work because the technology isn’t working or adequate.

    1. Stan

      Hmm, I’ve heard of Kahoot but never really tested it out extensively. It seems like a lot of work designing those quizzes/games but I guess I need to look into that. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Nat

    Kahoot live (played in groups) always works great in class. Ss cooperate, are motivated, and have fun. Even a “boring” fill in the gaps grammar revision exercise becomes exciting 🙂

  4. Elena

    I’ve already heard about this service, and really want to try it out. But I can’t imagine how to play it with the whole class (not every student has a device connected to the Internet). I’ll be thankful if you share your experience!!

  5. Agnaldo Amaral

    Hi there!
    I liked Quizlet very much. But I didn’t understand if I have to pay. It seems to have an upgrade, but I’d like you to tell me if I can or not create lessons for free.

    Thanks.

    1. Stan

      Well, you can create sets and assign to classes or just make them publicly available with the free account. The paid teacher mode removes the limit of classes you can create and gives you some stats on how your students progress and their score. I think it’s quite useful as you can see what words and phrases you should revise with your students.

  6. Agnaldo Brites

    Thanks a lot, Stan!

  7. ada krajewska

    It’s a can of worms, Stan 🙂 Once you you show it to your students, they will never want to do anything else.

Title separator

ESL Brains

Forgot password?
or continue with