In the Order Of Preference ESL game, students have to guess how their partner would rank five items on the board.
You will need to write/project five vocabulary items on the board for each round. One easy option is to use our Random Word Generator (which includes a scoreboard and countdown timer).
However, if you know your class well, it can also be fun to choose items specific to them. You could prepare a list beforehand, or just make them up as you play.
Divide the class into pairs. The partners sit opposite each other (not too close), at ninety degrees to the board (so they can both see it). Each student needs a notebook/paper and pen (mini whiteboards are even better).
- Write/project five items from the same vocabulary category on the board. For example, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, football, basketball.
- Student A has about thirty seconds to write down their order of preference (with sports you need to specify if you mean playing or watching). In the same time, student B writes what they think student A’s ranking is. Students must not speak, make gestures, or show their notebooks during this task.
- The partners take turns revealing their rankings. First student B reveals their guess, explaining their reasoning using the target language (e.g. I know she loves basketball, but I don’t think she likes football). Then student A reveals their ranking, confirming or correcting items using the target language. The pair receives one point for every item in the same ranking position.
- After all the pairs have shared their rankings, switch the roles of the students and put five new vocabulary items on the board and repeat.
- Repeat the entire process for future rounds. The pair with the most points at the end wins.
The Order Of Preference ESL game is a really fun game for beginner or low intermediate students. One option is to use it as a warmer, and change the vocabulary category after every complete round. With large classes, you might want to put less focus on students explaining their ranking to save time.
On the other hand if your target language is giving opinions, you should focus on the explanations behind the rankings. Beginner students should use language like I (quite) like/love/hate… . Intermediate students present their choices with language like I adore/don’t mind/can’t stand etc.
Or, you could use the game to review a specific category of vocabulary words. Categories that work well for this are food, sports and hobbies, and jobs. Students could explain their ranking using relevant adjectives.
A similar game to try is How Well Do You Know Your Friend, in which students have to answer questions instead of ranking items.
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