In the Pictionary ESL game, students guess words, phrases, or sentences from their teammate’s drawings.

Students for Pictionary ESL Game:4+Time for Pictionary ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Pictionary ESL Game:
Board; Chalk/Markers

You will need some suitable vocabulary words for the students to draw. You could prepare these beforehand, or just make them up on the spot. Or, if you have an Internet connection, try our Random Word Generator. This tool allows you to select Pictionary vocabulary categories suitable for ESL students.

Divide your students into two teams, or three teams if you have a large class.

  1. One student from each team comes to the board. Give them a marker/chalk each.
  2. Show them all the same word or phrase (without the other students seeing).
  3. When you say go, the students then have to draw a visual representation of that word/phrase. No letters, numbers or symbols allowed!
  4. The other students in their team watch them and shout out guesses of what the word is.
  5. The team that guesses the correct answer first gets the point for that round.
  6. Repeat the process with different students drawing different words for subsequent rounds.
  7. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Alternatively, you could also just have one team drawing at a time. In this case, give them a minute to see how many words/phrases they can guess correctly. This has the advantage that the teams can’t look at each other’s drawings, but it does mean students have to wait for their turn.

Target Language

You can use the Pictionary ESL game to practise almost any type of vocabulary. By varying that vocabulary the level can be adapted for beginner, intermediate or advanced students, as well as kids.

You could even try verbs if your students are good artists. With higher level students, what about phrasal verbs or idioms? And if they need an extra challenge, try blindfolding those drawing — Blindfold Pictionary!

Another really fun option is to practise the present continuous by giving the students a sentence which describes a scene. For example, Two elephants are playing tennis in the mountains. Your students will love watching each other try to draw this kind of crazy situation. Be sure to vary the subject so that students practise different forms of the grammar.

Pictionary often works best with smaller groups, as there is a limited number of students that can play at once. If you have a large class, why not try Pictionary Telephone, which involves more students playing at the same time.

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