Using Competition in an ESL Classroom

One of the most successful ways of motivating ESL students is through competition. Asesl curriculum long as the competition is friendly and fair, students will learn easily and well, while enjoying themselves.

Answering questions


esl curriculum

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Our classes always enjoyed this activity. Make a list of about twenty questions and answers. Give each student one or two questions. Divide the class into two equal teams and arrange the seating so that the teams face each other. Each student is to ask their question(s) of a member of the opposite team. The student who asks the question has the correct answer, so they correct the answer if necessary. The teacher makes a scoreboard on the blackboard, giving a point for each correct answer. We usually had fun asking each team to give their team a name, after a musical group or a sports team. The team names are put on the scoreboard.

(With any of these team activities, it is best that the teams be mixed. If it is female students against male students, the competition can become too intense and may become unfriendly.)

esl curriculumBingo Games

It is good to remember that Bingo games are a learning process. The first game should be difficult, because the students will not know all the definitions. For this reason it is good to let them help each other. After the second or third game, they will know the card better and it will go much faster. The winner should always get a reward of some sort. We usually carried a stamp pad and a rubber stamp with a happy face. It is amazing to see how proud people can be when you put a happy face on their books!

Crossword Puzzles

esl curriculum

Everyone loves doing a crossword puzzle.

In the rush to complete a crossword puzzle, students will work very hard, looking up words, and trying to fill in all the empty squares. This works very well if they are competing with the other students in the room. There are also online crossword puzzles that time each participant, and give hints and answers.


Once students are able to express themselves, debates are always enjoyed. We have often seen students become so involved in a debate that they forget that they are speaking in English.


We have done many mysteries with students, and they have always been enjoyed. Divide the class into groups of three or four, and give them all of the pertinent information and ask them to write the ending, explaining who the guilty person is, and why the crime was committed. Each group should appoint a spokesperson to present the findings of their group. When all of the groups have been heard from, give them the final summation to the story, and ask them to compare their story to the original.

There are mysteries online that teachers could easily adapt to their purposes.

Also, we are offering a free mystery activity to our bloggers

To download a Free Mystery Activity

CLICK HERE>> death in the woods-mystery book

See also: ESL Activity and Game Books

Manor House Secrets Video, another mustery.


Our curriculum is in use in more than 75 countries around the world.

About brian_mu8dft39

Successful ESL was created out of our first company, Learning English With Laughter which began in 1990 when we, George and Daisy Stocker, traveled to the historic city of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia, to teach English in a private language school. Communism was over and the people were embarking along the road to democracy. There were hundreds of students eager to learn the English Language, but suitable textbooks were non-existent. Consequently, we wrote as we taught, making countless revisions as we listened to the students' special needs. Upon returning to our home in Victoria, Canada, we have adapted the Teen-adult Series to meet the cultural needs of students in a number of different countries. A variety of adaptations have been achieved through contacts with many countries. Thousands of students have encouraged us to use a conversational approach to English that stresses communication in a variety of everyday situations. See our facebook page:
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