So you landed your first TEFL gig for adults. You might be thinking: “What the heck am I going to teach now without my arsenal of fun TEFL games for kids?” Fear not, dear TEFLer! While you might think adults are serious or boring, they enjoy a good game just as much as your average elementary-schooler. Perhaps even more so! Get an adult to enter a space of childlike wonder and playfulness and you have one happy student on your hands.
Not all games work well with adults (you can toss Simon Says aside), so I’m going to share a few favorites that are guaranteed to get your adult students out of snore mode and into play mode.
Two Truths and a Lie
This always seemed to get my adult classes going, especially when I (the teacher) participated. They were so curious to learn juicy facts about me! Here’s how you play: Students pick three unusual statements about themselves; two must be true statements, and one must be false. The goal for the rest of the students is to determine which statement is false. This is a great ice-breaker or time filler when your lesson goes shorter than expected.
I happened to teach adults in Buenos Aires where most people are huge film nerds, so this game was always a crowd pleaser. The more obscure and artsy the film is, the better.
A variation on this game is movie Pictionary or Charades. Movie titles are often translated differently in different countries, so this can be the challenging and tricky part of the game.
Jeopardy might be the holy grail of ESL classroom games. I first discovered its powers when teaching eighth graders in Patagonia. It was pure madness! And lo and behold, Jeopardy got a bunch of adults in Buenos Aires just as fired up as the kiddos, if not more so! Here’s the version I used:
Have fun, and be prepared for your adults to be fired up and jumping out of their seats on this one.
The Great Debate
This is a great one for more advanced students. Show photos of a controversial subject matter, such as a photo essay of an area with civil unrest, war, etc. Divide students into two teams and assign each team an opinion on the matter. For example, one side is pro-war in Afghanistan and the other side thinks the war should stop.
It is important to assign opinions so students will speak freely in their roles and not feel like they are actually sharing their personal thoughts. I find that adults can get really passionate about this one, especially when discussing relevant current events.
You can also read an article about the topic beforehand to pre-teach key concepts and vocabulary in English.
This game can be really fun and it is great for practicing imperative commands.
These are some of my favorites for getting adults to loosen up and have fun. Try them and let me know how they work out! What are your favorites?