Playing English Word Games

Use games to help improve your language skills, and to have fun.

Scrabble Board for My English Abroad
My English Abroad’s Scrabble Game

Word games are for students of all ages and abilities. Most people either love word games, or they hate them! Here’s why I love them as a teacher, and as a player.

Scrabble – A Perfect Word Game

One of my favorite word games is Scrabble. A very simple game where you try to make the highest scoring word on the board to win the game. I taught this game to my beginner students and most of them loved it. They learned how to form new words and also learned which letters go together to blend sounds. The pure happiness I saw on their faces as they created their own little words made me smile. As a teacher, that is a great lesson learned. I realized they were truly “getting it” when they would try to use the high double and triple letter scores to beat their friends.

As a player, I have always loved Scrabble. It reinforces my spelling skills and reminds me of words I haven’t used in a very long time. I have also learned new words from other players. A close copy of Scrabble is the online app Words With Friends. I usually have several games going at the same time and am constantly learning new words. The app posts a daily word on the main page which is a fantastic way to increase your vocabulary.


As a young teenager I used to play a game called Boggle with my word nerd friend Kim. This consists of 6 sided cubes with letters on all sides. You place the lid on the box and shake until the cubes settle into the base. Then you opened the lid, flipped the little timer and created words from the letters. The only rule was that words had to be at least 3 letters long and could only be made by cubes next to, or diagonal, from each other. If you both have the same word, then they cancel each other out and you earn no points for that word. The person with the most words wins.


The classic Hangman can be played anywhere with a piece of paper and something to write with. I have played this word game with my children while waiting in a restaurant, and with my students to reinforce vocabulary words. With a little extra time at the end of a class and a blackboard or a whiteboard, you can easily start a game. Using this game to help study new vocabulary words is a fun way for both teachers and students. It focuses on common English letter usage, consonants, and vowels. A great little lesson packaged up as a game.

Hangman game
What’s the answer? Can you figure it out?

Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles

Word searches and crossword puzzles are another good tool to use. There are many available at all ability levels, and you can create your own word searches and other puzzles using online sites. I often create word searches to go along with lessons that are heavy with vocabulary words. Looking for the words reinforces the spelling of the new words.

Using word games to teach isn’t a new practice. These games can take a rather boring lesson and turn it into a competition, something fun, for the students to actively engage in. Learning which letters combine easily and understanding consonant and vowel patterns is crucial to becoming a better speaker and writer. And any time you can get students to engage and interact within a lesson, then that is a plus for everyone.

t e s v t j q r f e j s l w e               
o l h t o s h m a e m a d r t 
e b g c u c e q o m n w r i a    abroad            puzzles
f b h n r d a t r o m l o t c    boggle            reading
l a a u i a y b i e i a w i u    college           scrabble
u r n u i k e t u s a b r n d    conversation      search
n c g y k i a s t l k d b g e    educate           speaking
i s m c o n v e r s a t i o n    English           study
v c a m r l n h p m f r h n z    grade             teacher
e e n e e i s f q s k s y d g    grammar           test
r k t a n i m e g a u g n a l    hangman           toefl
s n r g l e g e l l o c o t k    international     university
i n k g p u z z l e s g m w b    language          vocabulary
t m n t e a c h e r e d a r g    learn             word
y e d a o r b a b o g g l e k    listening         writing

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