Use the Bingo ESL game to practise any kind of vocabulary pairs, including ordinal numbers, nationalities, phonics, and antonyms.

Students for Bingo ESL Game:2+Time for Bingo ESL Game:10-15+ mins
Resources for Bingo ESL Game:
Card and Coloured Pens (Optional)

Students draw a 3×3 or 4×4 grid in their notebook. They then randomly fill that grid with words related to the target language (see below). Do an example on the board if necessary.

The words in the grid will be paired with the words to be read out. For example cardinal and ordinal numbers, countries and nationalities/languages etc.

Younger students could even make actual bingo cards with pieces of card and coloured pens. This opens up the option of drawing pictures in the grid, and practising other types of vocabulary. Distribute the finished cards randomly amongst the class, and get students to play in pencil so they can be reused.

  1. Read out a random word from the target language. If you have an Internet connection, you could use our Custom Word Generator to generate a random word from your vocabulary.
  2. If a student has the corresponding word in their grid, they can cross out that box. For example if ‘third’ is read out, ‘three’ can be crossed out.
  3. Repeat with other words.
  4. If a student crosses out three boxes in a row (vertically, horizontally or diagonally), they shout ‘Bingo!’.
  5. Continue until one student crosses out all their boxes. That student is the overall winner.

If you play again, why not let a students (perhaps the winner of the last game) be the bingo caller and read out the words.

Target Language

You can play the Bingo ESL game with any set vocabulary words that can be obviously paired one-to-one. It is commonly used with cardinal/ordinal numbersantonyms (use clear opposites like big/small), and countries and nationalities/languages/capitals. The latter could work really well in a cross-curricular geography class with school-age students.

Due to the nature of this vocabulary, the game is normally suitable for beginner and low intermediate students. It usually works best to have the easier vocabulary (cardinal numbers, countries etc.) in the grid, and the newer vocabulary read out to practise speaking and listening.

As mentioned above, if kids make their own bingo cards and draw pictures (e.g. of food, animals), that opens up the possibility of practising those other types of vocabulary.

Another option that works well with kids is phonics. Students fill their grid with different phonemes, and cross them off as you (or other students) say different words.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.