The What Am I ESL game is a cross between Twenty Questions and Who Am I, designed for practising jobs or animals vocabulary and present simple questions.
If you have a small number of students, students could take turns playing at the front of class. Write or project (using our Random Word Generator) an animal/job behind the student, and they have to see how quickly they can guess it.
However, if you have a larger class, it can be better to play with sticky notes on students’ foreheads. That way all the students can participate at the same time. In this case you can either prepare the animals/jobs on individual sticky notes beforehand, or let your class prepare them.
- If playing with a board/projector, one student stands at the front, facing away from the board. If playing with sticky notes, the students stand up ready to mingle.
- The student(s) guessing has an animal/job displayed somewhere they can’t see (i.e. projected behind them or stuck on their forehead). They take on the identity of this animal/job.
- The student(s) guessing must ask questions to their classmates, using the target language (e.g. Do I have fur? Where do I live? Do I work outside?). They must only ask one question to each student at a time.
- After each answer, the student can guess who they are. If their guess is correct, they can sit down/remove their sticky note. They can still give clues to other students however.
- If playing with sticky notes, continue until all students know their identity. If playing with a board/projector, repeat the process with another student standing at the front. A good way to decide who is to use the person who said the last clue.
The What Am I ESL game is a great way to practise vocabulary for jobs or animals. Not only do students have to think of the main nouns, but related vocabulary too (in order to form questions). This could include adjectives to describe jobs (dangerous, difficult, etc.) and both adjectives (big, tall) and nouns (claws, fur, feathers) related to animals. The animals variation is especially good with kids.
It’s also good practice for forming basic questions in the present simple. Make sure you correct/encourage peer correction of question structure if this is your focus. With low-level and younger learners you may want to review the form of suitable questions before playing.
See Who Am I for a variation of this game using people, and Where Am I for one using places. For the game where one student thinks of something, and the other students ask questions, see Twenty Questions.
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