ESL Games: TV Game Show Challenges

You can find ESL games in almost any place. Have you been watching any good shows recently? I’ve noticed a ton of great new gameshows on TV these days.

UntitledShows like ‘The Voice’, ‘Dancing with the Stars’, or ‘Project Runway’ are not only entertaining, but have some amazing challenges for the contestants you can incorporate into the classroom. Here are some new and old gameshow challenge ideas for your class!


Split your class into two teams. Give each team a stipend of money– $1500 or so, as well as assets like a car and a house.

Write at least 15 sentences on the board riddled with mistakes. Each team will have to pick a sentence and fix the mistake but they must place a wager on whether they can correct the sentence or not.

If the team fails to correct the sentence, they lose their wager. If they succeed, they keep the money. If the team loses their money, they have a chance to ‘sell’ their assets to the other team for some extra funds.

Whichever team has the most money in the end wins!

Hollywood Squares

Pick a panel of experts to the front of the classroom. Split the class into two teams again and appoint ‘leaders’ who are the only members of the team allowed to speak to the panel of experts. They may consult the team but it gets a bit noisy if everybody is talking.

Have a list of review questions ready for your panel—the leaders and teams will have to decide which panel expert to call upon and whether or not the answer the expert gives them is true or false.

The leader can then choose if they agree or disagree with the expert. If the team is correct, they win a point!


Split the team into four teams for this game. Give the teams a word or two to use in as many ways as possible—noun, adjective, adverb, and verb. They must use the words in a sentence correctly to score points! There is a time limit, however, for each set of words the teams will have 2 minutes!

Advance this into ‘Cut Throat Kitchen’ by adding additional challenges into those two minutes—how about extra small pencils, erasers, or pieces of paper? Maybe they have to relay to the board? Maybe their sentences can only have words beginning with the letter S?

Make it more interesting by playing with money and having the teams spend money on giving the other teams these challenges! It can get quite competitive in the classroom with this ESL game!

Family Feud

This game will require two teams, just like the classic tv show. The teams will buzz in first, give them a word and the competitors will have to think of synonyms for the given vocabulary word.

Whichever team is quicker on the initial buzz gets to pick to either play or pass to the other team—they will have to think of five synonyms to get the point! Play three rounds with different vocabulary words to find a winner!

Encourage your class to tell you about new tv shows or challenges they have seen. The games can be a great way to challenge your class into thinking quickly and creatively in English!

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