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35 Engaging ESL Games to Enhance Your English

Learning English isn't always the most fun task in the world.

There are so many rules (like "i before e") that always have seemingly arbitrary exceptions ("except after c") and exceptions to those exceptions (the word "conscience," for example). Even worse, the traditional methods for teaching yourself this confusing language are sometimes subpar, like boring grammar workbooks or monotonous flashcards.

Staying engaged while learning any new topic is vital. When we're bored and trying to learn, it's much more difficult to maintain focus and retain information. That's why it's important to have fun when you're trying to learn, but with a subject as complex as the English language, doing so isn't always easy.

Luckily, there are English as a second language (ESL) games everywhere—not just the simple games that cater only to children, but games for adults that are actually fun. These ESL games are also played by native English speakers, so you know they're even worth playing just for entertainment. However, you'll be playing these games not only because they're enjoyable but also because they'll help enhance your English-language skills.

There's a game out there for you, whether you're looking for a board game to play with friends over the weekend and simultaneously refine your spelling, apps to play any time you have a free moment and want to perfect your grammar, or online games to help you stay engaged and focused on learning. With our list of ESL games, you'll be having fun and improving your English all at once!

Board Games

Have a bunch of friends to play with? Trying to sneak in some spelling lessons? These fun board games are perfect for groups of native and non-native English speakers alike!

1. Scrabble

Scrabble is a board game in which you spell out English words using a set of tiles. You can play with either native speakers or other ESL learners. Scrabble will especially help you hone your spelling skills, but it'll also help you learn new words: when others play a word you haven't heard of, you can ask them to define it for you.

2. Boggle

If you're not feeling confident forming words out of nothing, you can try out Boggle, another word game. The goal is to find words on lettered dice in a limited amount of time. The more English words you know, the more you can discover, and the more likely you are to beat your friends!

3. Scattergories

This game requires a bit of creative thinking. You must name certain items from each category, beginning with a given letter. Matching categories can help you learn the context of words, and combing your brain for words that start with a specific letter will help you nail down the alphabet.

4. Bananagrams

© Bananagrams. Used with permission.

Bananagrams is another game to aid you in sharpening your spelling skills. As with, Scrabble, you use tiles to spell words. However, as you use your letters and obtain more tiles, you must insert those tiles into already existing words or rearrange tiles to form new words.

5. Taboo

In Taboo, you have to get your teammates to guess the word on your card without saying the five closely related words also listed on your card. Since certain words are restricted, playing Taboo can help widen your vocabulary.

6. Apples to Apples

Maybe you need to strengthen your knowledge in a particular area, like the parts of speech. Apples to Apples can help you with just that! It's a card game; the red cards feature nouns, and the green cards feature adjectives. The goal is to play a noun that the specified adjective best describes. For an enjoyable twist on this classic, match nouns to unrelated adjectives and have the funniest pair win!

7. Funglish

Funglish is a word-guessing game that can also help you learn the parts of speech. You use adjectives to describe a given noun in categories of "definitely," "not," or "kind of." It'll help you learn your adjectives and the meanings of specific nouns since you'll have to use your own knowledge to describe them.

8. Buzzword

In Buzzword, you'll be given clues; using them, you have to try to guess phrases that include a specific word, the "buzzword." This particular game is full of common English clichés and turns of phrase, so it'll help you learn the more colloquial side of the English language.

9. Mad Gab

If you need help with your pronunciation skills, then Mad Gab might be the game for you. Mad Gab focuses on phonetics. Reading aloud what seems like gibberish from each card causes it to sound like a particular English word or phrase, which your partner has to guess.

10. Catch Phrase

This game is a mix of charades and Taboo that will help you contextualize certain English phrases. As in charades, you have to try to get another person to guess the phrase you're given by acting it out. Unlike charades, however, you're allowed to speak (although certain words are forbidden, as in Taboo).

11. You've Been Sentenced

Tired of spelling out words or guessing phrases? You can give sentence structure a try with You've Been Sentenced, where the goal is to build grammatically correct sentences. This will help you learn how to form simple sentences in English—and more complex ones, too, if you want to earn the most points and win!

12. Last Word

In Last Word, you have to name words beginning with a specific letter to fit a certain category. The player with the last word advances on the playing board. Last Word can help you both strengthen your spelling skills and widen your vocabulary.


Do you have a limited budget? Are you struggling to trick your friends into learning the parts of speech with you? These apps, all available on the app store, can help you with these problems and enable you to learn on the go.

13. Words with Friends

A list about word games would be incomplete without Words with Friends, an app with the same objective as Scrabble. Words with Friends can help you improve vocabulary and spelling just like Scrabble, except with the convenience of playing in line at the grocery store or at your doctor's office.

14. Just Say It!

Just Say It! has the same main objective as Taboo: you have to guess the other player's word. The plus side here is that you can set the difficulty level relative to your level of English, so ESL learners can adjust the game accordingly as they advance in their language skills.

15. Word Connect

If you like puzzles, then Word Connect is for you! See what words you can make from a group of letters. Word Connect is a fun and easy way to improve your vocabulary and spelling.

16. Wheel of Fortune Free Play

Everyone's played Wheel of Fortune, at the very least via their TV. Even though you can't put a price on learning, this app is totally free to download, making it easy to pick up and hard to put down. You'll want the puzzles to keep on coming—trust us.

17. Letterpad

Maybe your friends are all busy and playing a board game is not feasible. How about downloading Letterpad for free then? Not only can you solve new puzzles made by various community members to practice your spelling, but you can also create and share your own puzzles for friends to play later.

18. Sleep Furiously

The goal of this app is to create grammatically correct sentences. It provides different playing modes, making it great for players of all skill levels. You can race to beat the clock or you can play by turn to find the most sentences. You can even take it easy and try to create the most complex sentences possible.

19. LEX

Lex follows a traditional word game formula—with a twist. This app focuses on keeping its players engaged while they practice their spelling. Images and music sync to your movements as you create words using the letters provided.

20. NYTimes Crossword

This app is just like the original pen-to-paper crossword puzzle you're likely familiar with—but better. Since it's electronic, it offers the option of checking your answers once you've filled them out, which means you can both practice and edit your spelling.

21. Word Chums

If you're struggling to come up with words in Words with Friends, you can give Word Chums a try. This app comes with a built-in dictionary, so you can learn words as you go. You can play either by yourself or on a team, or else you can try your hand at beating one of the various challenges.

7 Little Words
© Blue Ox Technologies Ltd. Used
with permission.

22. 7 Little Words

In 7 Little Words, it's your job to match word groups, which helps you advance your spelling skills. Furthermore, you're given hints about the words that usually define them, meaning you'll also be working on improving your vocabulary.

23. Crostix

Crostix features a fill-in-the-blanks game using definitions, which will help you widen your vocabulary in no time. If you're stuck on a word's definition, you can read hints about the word; if you're more stubborn, you can reveal the word letter by letter until you can guess it.

24. WordJong

This is another game in which you create words. Every day, there's a brand-new puzzle to be solved, and with this game's huge dictionary of over 100,000 words, you'll never run out of puzzles to solve. You can improve until you're a spelling master!

Online Games

Perhaps you'd like to perfect your grammar and sentence structure online. All of these online games are completely free to play, so it's easy to sneak in some gaming time whenever you have a spare minute.

25. Wordner

Wordner is a creative wordplay game you can play with a community online. You choose a starter word from one card and build on it in order to complete the phrase given by another card. It's a good way to learn how to contextualize certain words in a creative way.

26. Wordz!

This game is a crossword puzzle that uses tiles; you can click the tiles to switch the given letters around to create words. Once you have the correct words, they'll change color, so you'll know when you've spelled a word correctly. It's not a timed game, so you can focus on improving your spelling and not worry about racing a clock.

The Complete Guide to the Parts of Speech27. The Book of Treasures

The Book of Treasures is an engaging word game with a full plotline. By completing the objectives to win the game, you're actually practicing your spelling skills. Even so, it's unlikely that you'll get bored with the immersive story and attractive visuals.

28. TextTwist 2

Given a set of words, your goal in TextTwist 2 is to rearrange given letters to create as many different words as possible. You'll score bigger points for knowing longer words. If you can't think of words, though, they'll be revealed to you afterwards, so you can still build your vocabulary.

29. Word Dimensions

In Word Dimensions, you spin around a block to create as many words as possible from the letters that are close to each other. The longer the English words that you create are, and the faster you create them, the more points you'll get!

30. Just Type This

If you want to practice your typing and English spelling skills at the same time, try Just Type This, a game in which you type the given words on your keyboard to move a character along the screen. Be sure to watch out for the various obstacles you'll be faced with, which make the game even more entertaining.

31. Semantic Wars

In this game, you have to guess words from various categories, letter by letter. It's like Hangman, except the fewest guesses to spell the given word earn you gold, which you use to buy weapons to destroy your enemy's castle.

32. Tumble Bees

This one's an online word game in which you can form words. The goal is to spell as many words as possible without using all the letters, so you can hone your spelling skills while having a good time. You can also chat with other players online.

33. That Word Game

The goal of That Word Game is to spell words using the letters that fall from the top to the bottom of the screen. They fall pretty quickly, so playing this game will help you spell words more quickly. Bonus: because they fall so quickly, there will always be words to spell!

34. Ghost: A Word Game

In a surprising turn of events, the goal of this game is to not complete a word. You and an animated ghost take turns adding letters until a word is formed. Words must be more than four letters long, and the goal is to actually have the ghost finish the word first. Good luck! It's tougher than it sounds.

35. Kick the Word

This game is helpful for learning the context of words, since your job is to kick the odd word out from a list of words. The words all belong to a certain category—except for one. Your goal is to determine which word that is.


ESL games don't have to be boring, childish, or easy, as proven by our varied list of engaging ESL games for adults. Whether you've tried out the board games, apps, or online games, we hope you've found a fun game to help you maintain the focus you need to perfect your English-language skills.

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