In the Articulate ESL game, students describe words/phrases to their team against the clock.

Students for Articulate ESL Game:4+Time for Articulate ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Articulate ESL Game:
Internet or Prepared Words/Phrases, Countdown Timer

You will need a set of appropriate words/phrases for the students to describe. If you have an Internet-connected device, use our online Articulate game – no preparation time required! This game comes with a variety of pre-loaded vocabulary sets, or you can specify your own words (in the Vocabulary Input section).

If you don’t have an Internet connection, you will need to prepare your own list of words/phrases. These will need to be revealed one at a time. So you could prepare a computer slideshow, write them on small pieces of paper, or on one large piece of paper that you uncover gradually.

In class, divide the students into two, three, or four teams of at least two players.

  1. The teams take turns playing.
  2. One student from the team stands at the front of the class, so only they can see the vocabulary words. This student describes the word on the screen/paper, without using that word or any gestures.
  3. The rest of the students in their team try to guess the word they are describing.
  4. The teams have thirty seconds to correctly guess as many words as possible, with each correct guess scoring one point. Depending on the level of your students, and how many words you have available, you may want to allow zero, one or infinite passes per turn.
  5. Do the same with the other team(s), then repeat with other students describing for future rounds. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Target Language

You can use the Articulate ESL game as a warmer or to practise almost any type of vocabulary. Our online game offers a variety of vocabulary categories, and there is also the option to load custom vocabulary you have been learning recently. As such the game can be adapted for all levels, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

For those high intermediate and advanced students, you can also use it to practise defining relative clauses (select the ‘Random- Relative Clauses’ option in our online game). Instruct the students to give their clues in the form It’s the person/place/thing who/whose/where/that…. As an incentive, you could give a bonus point for each correct use of a relative clause in the description.

In another variation of the Articulate ESL game, students instead describe five or ten words against the clock (normally one minute). They can choose in which order they describe them, and they gain one point for each correctly guessed word. Use our Random Word Generator to display multiple words at once for this variation.

A very similar game to Articulate is Taboo, in which students have to avoid using certain words in their descriptions. This is great as an extra challenge for more advanced students.

Articulate is featured in our article on the 15 Best ESL Games for Adults, which explores lots more great ideas for classroom games.

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