Game shows in the classroom

Game shows in the classroom

Like it or not, television is an integral part of the 21st century. Along with unnecessary information, you would definitely find lots of interesting films, news and amazing game shows on TV. While teaching teens most teachers ponder upon searching for creative techniques to arouse motivation in the classroom. In this respect, game shows can serve a perfect tool. In one of our articles, we have already introduced 10 great games from TV shows. Here we speak about why it is beneficial to use game shows in the classroom and present the most famous game shows that can be adapted for English class activities. 

Why use game shows?

If you really care for your students’ progress, you should concentrate on a student-centred strategy to inspire them to speak and not just get information. Game shows, being interactive tools, motivate learners to be involved, to compete and to strive to win. During the competition students usually focus on the process of the game rather than on the English class as it is. Hence, learning the language becomes a spontaneous and more natural procedure. 

Mock the week (for all levels and for exam preparation to revise question forms) 

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‘Mock the week’ has been shown on BBC 2 since 2005. Each episode is about 30 minutes long. In all episodes, there is a game called If this is the answer, what is the question? It may serve a nice tool to revise question forms with your teens. All you need is to prepare a list of answers and classify them into groups – animals, nature, literature, news, etc. 

For example:

  • The Nile
  • William Shakespeare
  • On the 25th of December 
  • In Paris 
  • By plane 

Possible questions your teens could come up with:

  • What is the longest river in the world? Where do crocodiles live?
  • Who is the author of “Romeo and Juliet/Macbeth”? 
  • When is Christmas celebrated in Europe? 
  • Where is the Eiffel Tower? Where is the most romantic place?
  • How can you get to the USA?Of course, answers and questions can be adapted according to your students’ interests and age. If you and your students know each other well, you can prepare answers based on their life, family, hobbies, etc.

Password. The Tonight show (for all levels to revise vocabulary)

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. It has been broadcast since 2014. ‘Password’ is one of the parts of this game show. In fact, it is really similar to the game Alias so while explaining they cannot use the words with the same root. Separate your class into two teams, give one student a word and ask them to describe it to the team. The latter must attempt to guess the word within 10 seconds. The team that gets more points, becomes the winner. It is a nice way for revising vocabulary. 

Wheel of Fortune (for elementary and upper levels to practise vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation) 

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‘Wheel of Fortune’ is an American television game show founded by Merv Griffin in 1975. The rules of the game are simple: prepare a list of words, expressions, collocations that you want to revise with your teens, give some hints and ask them to spin the wheel for a dollar amount and then guess the letters.  If the letter is in the expression, they keep that dollar amount, multiplied by how many times that letter appears. If one of the teams is ready to guess the whole expression, they can try. You can use an online wheel creator. Here your students can watch some of the episodes of the game show if they need more clarification. 

Who wants to be a millionaire (for all levels to revise grammar and vocabulary)

This game show has been widely spread in many countries since 1999. It can be easily adapted to the ESL classroom. Prepare a test with the target grammar or vocabulary with 14 multiple-choice questions, starting from the easiest questions and ending with the most difficult ones. Besides the contestant, you will also need a group of students who want to be the audience and contestant’s friend. Set a time limit for each question (20-30 seconds) and start the game. Either one of your students or you can be the host. Safety nets along the way guarantee sums that can’t be lost once a contestant reaches certain thresholds. The player can quit any time, but he/she can lose with one wrong answer if he/she doesn’t say “I quit and take my money. I don’t want to answer the question”.

Family Feud (for elementary and upper levels to revise grammar and vocabulary)

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“Family Feud” is an American game show created by Mark Goodson where two families compete to name the most popular responses to survey questions in order to win prizes. It was first broadcast in 1976.  It can be played as a team game in the classroom. Write down a question that may have several answers on the board (for example, Phrasal verbs with look, pass, take, etc; collocations with come, go, get, keep; in which cases is -ing ending used?). One team starts and tries to name one of the common answers to the question. If the answer is present, they get points. Teams then take turns to give one answer. The one who gets more points becomes the winner 

As can be seen, creativeness and willingness can help us to make the most of game shows. Definitely, the game shows introduced in the article are not the only ones that can be applied and adapted in your ESL classrooms. However, those were the ones I have really found useful from my own experience.

What are your favourite game shows to use in the classroom? 

Вероника Аветисян

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