COVID may have changed so much about how we teach, but it hasn’t changed how fun and engaging games are for learners and teachers alike. If anything, COVID has inspired new online game platforms and countless new ways to use them for English teaching.
Here’s a list of my 4 favorite free no-sign-up-required online game sites for having fun with English from a distance. They’re all tried and true recommendations I use every week with my high school classes and private students. Plus, they’re safe for kids, don’t require you or your students to submit any personal information, and can be shared with just a link!
Skribbl.io is a Pictionary-style game for up to 12 players. You can create private rooms and even use your own custom wordlist. Beyond that, you can adjust almost everything about the game—the number of rounds, the amount of time, and even the language. Plus, the basic avatar maker’s a pleasant surprise kids and adults alike love to use.
PlayCards.io is essentially a virtual card table. The site has templates for popular card and board games including Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Matching, checkers, backgammon, and more. You can also create custom games on your own table and edit your table as you play. Just like in real life, you can use these games to practice all kinds of English: asking questions, numbers, explaining rules. You could even turn it into a project and have learners create and play their own brand new games!
An absolute classic, online Battleship works exactly like the original. I like using this game with young learners to practice letters and numbers, but it’s also easily modified to increase the challenge and focus on more advanced skills. You can insert the speaking or grammar points you’d like to emphasize by requiring the student to do something: ask a question in a certain tense, describe something they did in the past, answer a math question–whatever you want. The chance to sink the teacher’s ships can really motivate young learners and make practice more fun for everyone.
PlayCharades.net isn’t a shared game space but rather the best charades word generator I’ve ever found. It has three difficulty levels; “easy” is right on target for the A2-B1 crowd and “moderate” works well for B2+ learners. They also have thematic groupings, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, which are always hits. For advanced learners, there’s also a “sayings” group to practice idiomatic phrases. This Charades generator is great in the classroom, but it also works online as long you have a simultaneous video call.
And those are my 4 favorite game sites for online English lessons! They’ve all been well-received in my virtual classrooms and provide a welcome break from the monotony of video classes. I’m always on the hunt for more, so please, if you have any of your own recommendations, comment below!