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6 Games & Activities to Teach ESL Students on Koala Go

a young boy looking at the Koala Go eLearning platform on his computer screen.

If you aren’t familiar with the Koala Go virtual classroom, you might be missing out! This gamified platform is a great solution for teaching ESL students online. With a Minecraft-like virtual classroom, the possibilities for engaging activities with your students are endless. Students and teachers choose their avatars and enjoy a three-dimensional landscape to complete language instruction and learning activities. Let’s talk about six games and activities you can use to teach ESL students on Koala Go.

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1. Create a gameshow quiz

Whether you’re teaching a new concept or reinforcing an old one, turning a quiz into a competitive gameshow is sure to make the assessment much more fun. To make a gameshow quiz in Koala Go, simply create a whiteboard slideshow with 10-15 slides, each showing a question. Decorate your slides with a gameshow-themed background. As your students compete, track the points, and then tally all student points at the end of the game. Congratulate each student with a trophy slide with their name and points!

Koala Go’s whiteboard feature is fully customizable. You can create all slides yourself or visit the Koala Go Marketplace to find custom activities made by other teachers.

  • Pro Tip: Make the game extra exciting with a timer and gameshow music!

2. Play hide and seek

The Koala Go playground is a virtual learning world where you can build engaging activities for your students. You can add sticky notes, add “action zones” that open doors or perform other activities when students answer questions, and much more.

You can create a variety of hide-and-seek tasks for your students simply by hiding a lot of clipart or images around the room. For example, you can provide directions to look for items that start with a specific sound, rhyme with a word, fly in the sky, live in the sea, etc. Use Koala Go’s clipart library or upload your own images.

  • Pro Tip: Cheer your students on as they find items by adding short audio recordings to images!
Koala Go avatars.
Teachers and students can choose their own avatars.

3. Design a language quest

You can choose from a variety of Koala Go playground themes, which can match various themed quests you can send your students on for language learning activities. There are ready-made Koala Go playground designs that range from castles to islands to frozen arctic landscapes on the Koala Go Marketplace. Hide a prize at the end of the language quest that can be found by completing a series of tasks.

Have your students travel your playground language quest to find certain items in the same sequence as a story you’ve read in class to practice sequencing or search for 10 items that match the same criteria, such as clothing you would wear during winter. To make the quest more fun, have students provide answers to questions to open doors where you’ve hidden clues for a multi-step search. For example, ask students to provide the past tense form of a word to open a door and find a clue.

  • Pro Tip: Add activities that will earn points to make language quests competitive!

4. Send students on a scavenger hunt

Similar to hide and seek, an easy way to set up a scavenger hunt is by scattering clipart and images, but in a scavenger hunt, you may up the ante by setting a timer or having students compete with one another to be the first to find all the items in the hunt.

For example, teach a lesson on possessive adjectives, and then send students on a scavenger hunt to identify possessive adjectives. You can also award students points for each possessive adjective they find and display them on a point wall.

  • Pro Tip: For more advanced students, scavenger hunts could include multi-step challenges that must be completed to find the next clue.

5. Make mini-games

Use Koala Go’s whiteboard to make a variety of mini-games like matching words with images, tic-tac-toe, sequencing games, and more. Mini-games make fun warm-up activities, icebreaker activities, or time fillers between tasks.

Koala Go can integrate with any website, so you can also use your favorite websites like Wordwall, Raz Kids, and Genially from your co-browser at any time.

  • Pro Tip: Create a variety of mini-games ahead of time to have them ready when you need them!

6. Compete with leaderboards

Just about any game or activity can become a competition with a leaderboard. Students can compete with one another or simply against themselves, enjoying tangible proof of their progress!

  • Pro Tip: There are plenty of free online leaderboards you can find online! The free templates are usually customizable, and Koala Go’s co-browser feature makes your scoreboard easy to share.

Koala Go’s marketplace has hundreds of ready-made games and activities created by other teachers. You can always save time and find ready-made games and fresh ideas there or on the Teach with Koala YouTube channel.

Start gamifying your ESL classroom with one free month of Koala Go Pro, an exclusive deal just for the Bridge community!

Want to learn more about teaching English with games? Check out Bridge’s suite of Micro-credentials in Games and Activities for the Online Classroom for Very Young Learners, Young Learners, Teenagers, and Adults.

Jennifer Maguire, EdD is a freelance writer living in Southern Calif., U.S. A graduate of City University of Seattle, she is a college English professor and writer and editor of K-12 and college curricula.