An important part of learning English as a Second Language (ESL) is numbers and counting. While most students have no problem memorizing numbers, doing the math necessary for everyday activities like counting change from a purchase can be confusing in English. ESL number games are most fun when they mimic these real-life activities, as well as more educational.
Who Is Rich?
This game can be adapted to the age and proficiency level of your students. Prepare several flashcards, each with one of the numbers you have been studying. On the board, write down the numbers you are focusing on for this lesson. Tell students to write any four of these numbers on a piece of paper. Tell students the first card you draw will be worth $5, the second will be $10, the third $15, and so on, using any dollar amount your class is comfortable with. Shuffle your flashcards and choose one, showing students the number. All of the students who wrote down the number on that card earn $5. Pick more cards (the more you pick the longer the game), allowing students to keep track of their "earnings." When you finish, have students add up their dollar amounts to see who is the richest.
Number Clapping Game
This game is most entertaining for younger learners, but can be challenging for older students as well. Arrange students in a circle and tell them they are going to count up from zero, moving around the circle from student to student. However, students with the even numbers will clap instead of count. The first student says "One," the second claps, the third student says "Three," the fourth claps, and so on until they have moved around the circle. Adjust the game by asking students to clap every third or fifth number instead. Use higher numbers for an additional challenge, or start with 2,000 to practice saying the years in English. Students can count by fives or tens and clap every fifth word. Increase the difficulty by speeding up the tempo. Students who clap in the wrong place or say the wrong number are out, and the game continues until only one student is left.
Pronouncing and hearing certain numbers correctly, such as 13 and 30, can be difficult for some ESL students. This game will help their pronunciation and listening skills. Divide students into two teams. Write two or three similar-sounding numbers on the board, such as 14 and 40. The first member of Team One comes to the board, while another member from the same team stands with you. Show the student one of the numbers on a piece of paper. The student reads the number aloud, and his teammate circles the number he said. If the correct number is circled, the team wins a point. Alternate, changing the numbers for Team Two, and the team with the most points at the end wins.
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