30 Games to Learn English While Having a Ball
One of the best ways for you to learn English is to play games, which will make studying fun and exciting.
You won’t even notice all the learning you’re doing in the meantime!
In this post, we’ll get you started with 30 excellent games for learning English that you can play online, in person and with your friends.
- Online Word Games for Practicing English
- Online Grammar and Trivia Games for Practicing English
- Board Games to Learn English
- ESL Interactive Games for Group Learning
- Why Learn English from Games?
- And One More Thing...
Online Word Games for Practicing English
Online English games can be hit or miss (either great or terrible). No worries—we’ve found the best word games for practicing your English vocabulary. You can even practice with video games online or download games!
Level: All levels
Key features: Word scramble game to improve your English vocabulary
If you like action-packed ESL games that have you working against the clock, Wordshake is right for you.
This game gives you 16 random letters of the alphabet and three minutes. During that time, you have to come up with (think of) as many English words as you can using the letters you have. Every time you make a new word, you get points.
Since there aren’t any complicated rules with Wordshake, it’s a good vocabulary-building game for beginners and advanced students alike.
Key features: High-speed English vocabulary practice
Knoword has to be one of the most entertaining, enjoyable and fun games the whole internet has to offer.
The rules are very simple: you have one minute to read as many definitions as you can and write the correct answer.
Each time you give a correct answer, you get one or two extra seconds, and every four correct answers give you a hint. You can skip as many words as you want, so make sure you press “Esc” or click on “Skip” whenever you don’t know a word.
3. 4 Pics 1 Word
Level: All levels
Key features: Pictorial game app for practicing English vocabulary on your phone
This game gives you four pictures that have something in common, and you have to guess what it is.
Sometimes the answer is obvious, but other times you’ll have to think hard and use hints to get some help. Whether you’re a beginner learner of English or a fluent speaker, 4 Pics 1 Word will surely activate your brain and make you think in English.
Plus you can always create your own flashcards for the words you don’t know. Who said fun and learning can’t go together?
4. Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee
Key features: Spelling game for advanced English learners
Listen to a word and try to spell it correctly. No surprises here.
However, some of the words you’ll hear are so hard to spell that you’ll start to feel the bee is laughing at you and your misspellings.
The game comes with statistics, a free look at the visual thesaurus for the words you spell correctly, and all the definitions of the words divided by part of speech.
Even though the Visual Thesaurus isn’t free, the game is, and it’s full of great features to help you learn English.
5. Word Whomp
Level: All levels
Key features: Cute game that tests your spelling skills and memorization
Another word scramble game like Wordshake but cuter, Word Whomp lets you practice your English writing and spelling skills.
In this game, you’re given six letters and need to determine how many words can be spelled with those letters. You have two and a half minutes to come up with every word. If you guess too many incorrect words, the game will end.
You’ll practice quickly thinking of English vocabulary words—a skill that’ll be very useful in real-life English conversations.
Key features: Lets you practice English and help those in need at the same time
Freerice is another quiz-style game that helps you improve your vocabulary skills.
Instead of answering word problems, you’re given a vocabulary word and then have to find its closest synonym out of four different words. The game starts out easy, but with 60 levels in total, it gets much harder as you go along.
What really makes Freerice different from other games is that the company will donate 10 grains of rice to hungry families for every question that you answer right.
So the more you play, the more you’re helping those in need.
7. Human Brain Cloud
Level: All levels
Key features: Word association game that offers free English practice
Described as “a massively multiplayer word association game,” the Human Brain Cloud is as simple as it is complex.
You’re given random words, and your goal is to type in words, expressions or even sentences you associate with the words you get. There are no right or wrong answers. The program simply takes your answers and adds them to the association bank.
If you click on a word, you’ll see a “cloud” with your word in the middle connected to other words people associate it with. This is when the fun starts, because you can use this feature to learn vocabulary.
8. Scrabble Online
Key features: Board game for improving your English vocabulary that you can also play online
Originally designed as a board game, you can now play Scrabble online with a friend, against another virtual player or against the computer.
You choose seven letters in the form of tiles and use them to make words. Every square has a letter and number written on it that represents the points that you get for using that letter.
All tiles touching one another have to make a real English word, and you have to build words using the letters from other words that have already been laid down.
9. Word Games by Learn English Today
Level: All levels
Key features: Huge collection of word games in one place
You came here looking for a word game. How about 135?
Learn English Today offers 135 free word games to help you improve your English vocabulary while having fun.
Divided into four levels and five categories (crossword puzzles, jumbled sentences, quizzes, missing words and matching exercises), each one of these games will help you get better at English no matter your level.
It’d be impossible to mention all the topics included in the games, but I can tell you my three favorite one ones to play: Phrasal Verbs, Sightseeing, Preposition Quiz 1.
10. 7 Words
Key features: The most challenging word game for English students
This simple name hides one of the most difficult but also entertaining and addictive games I’ve ever played in my life.
You get seven definitions and 18 tiles with letters, and your goal is to click on the tiles to create words that match the definitions.
Each definition is followed by a number of gray squares that correspond (match) to the number of tiles you need to use to form that word. Along with three hints, that’s all you’ll have to complete the 777 puzzles included in the game.
When you guess one word, its definition gets crossed out and the corresponding tiles disappear.
11. ESL Crossword Puzzles
Level: All levels
Key features: The best ESL crossword puzzles online for English learners
Crossword puzzles are a good way to test your reading comprehension and vocabulary skills.
However, the crossword puzzles that you find in the Sunday newspaper are often too hard for English learners to complete.
Fortunately, with ESL Crossword Puzzles, you can challenge yourself with word problems that were created especially for English language learners.
The website is comprehensive and has a variety of crossword puzzles, difficulties and themes to choose from, making it great for students of all skill levels. Just choose your level from the menu at the top of the homepage linked above.
Key features: Game for learning the vocabulary of everyday objects
In this game, you explore a modern apartment where everything is clickable. You use a device to scan objects and it tells you the name of that object in English.
It features native audio pronunciations and tests your memory using time-based quizzes. There’s also a mini-game where you fly an airplane and shoot down various things.
The game helps you learn the names of objects used in daily life. Beginners can quickly pick up the essential words they’ll use in most contexts in a fun and effortless way.
13. Drops English
Key features: Learn vocabulary by connecting words with pictures.
This is another game that connects words with their picture. The difficulty increases as you play, so that once you have learned a word, Drops will include more words to continually challenge your learning.
This is a great way to learn new words because of the repetition, plus the app has an easy interface and is relaxing and fun to use.
You can download Drops on an iOS or Android device and play without Wi-Fi.
Key features: Classic game that encourages vocabulary creativity
In this game, you are trying to define a specific English word without using several keywords from a list (the keywords are usually obvious synonyms or descriptors). It really tests your understanding of the word and encourages creativity as you try to explain it without using the forbidden words.
This downloadable Android game (which can be played offline) is great for practicing English with your friends, since it is all about trying to help people guess the word.
15. Word Connect
Key features: Helps learn how to spell correctly
This game gives you a collection of letters and challenges you to form the letters into words. You have to spell as many words as you can out of the letters. This game is definitely challenging and makes you think a lot about the English you have learned.
Also, because you have unlimited guesses, this game might teach you new words as you discover the right answers.
Key features: Fun design and great for spelling practice
In this game you are also trying to make words with the letters given. This one gives you several chances to use each letter, and after you make a word you are given more letters to use. These kinds of games encourage you to use as much vocabulary as you can.
You get more points for longer words, and as you play through the game you can collect the “Alphabears” which will give you different point combinations. The bears are cute and add an extra reward for doing well at this game.
There are different styles of play, including a timed version which will help you think quickly and build words as fast as you can think of them.
You can play on your phone or download an enhanced version of the game to your computer via Steam.
Online Grammar and Trivia Games for Practicing English
Word games aren’t the only ones that let you practice your English! There’s a wide variety of trivia, grammar, and other types of games to choose from:
17. Lovatts Free Online Trivia
Key features: Trivia game for advanced English students
If you’re the type of person who’s overflowing with unrelated facts, you’re going to love Lovatts Trivia. Let me tell you, some of the questions are only for trivia pros (professionals)!
This game is perfect for practicing your English reading skills under pressure. You’re playing against the clock, and the more time you take to answer a question, the fewer points you get.
If you ever need some help, you can always ask the system to help you out. Click on the word “Hint” in the upper-right side of the gray line, and one of the incorrect answers will be discarded.
18. Adaptive Spelling Quiz by SpellQuiz
Key features: Fun and cute English dictations
Imagine being able to do dictations online, but the site is absolutely cute and well-designed. The audio is crystal clear (very clear, easy to understand).
Each sentence gets checked and corrected immediately. You can click on any word to know more about it. The program takes your mistakes into account and gives you more and more difficult sentences as you advance and get better.
There’s also the possibility to check your word and mistake statistics. Register and have access to all this and many other tests, quizzes and much more for free.
19. 20 Questions
Level: All levels
Key features: Digital version of the classic question-and-answer game
This is a digital spin on the classic 20 Questions game. First, think of an animal, vegetable, mineral, concept or unknown word.
Once you have chosen your word, the system will start asking questions that you’ll have to answer with words such as “yes,” “no,” “unknown,” “sometimes,” “maybe” and more.
Each question together with your answer will appear on the screen while you play. By the end of question number 20, the system will tell you what it believes you’re thinking about.
If it’s not able to guess your word, you win!
20. Proof It!
Key features: The best game for practicing English proofreading
Do you think you have what it takes to be a proofreader? You’re given 10 sentences with one mistake each. Your mission is to find and correct all 10 mistakes.
I recommend this game for advanced students of English who are taking the final steps toward fluency or are getting ready for an exam.
The mistakes you can find in these sentences range from grammar (for example, do instead of does) and spelling errors (break instead of brake) to punctuation (a comma may be missing) and capitalization mistakes (alice instead of Alice).
Level: All levels
Key features: Gamified learning experience makes learning fun
Duolingo is a great way to learn a lot of words fast. It uses a combination of pictures and words to help you understand the new language, and as you progress through the levels it repeats the words you have learned to make sure you still know what they mean.
Though I have found that Duolingo is best for memorizing new words, it also can be a great way to get better at grammar. Duolingo often puts vocabulary words into common sentences and phrases so that you can begin to get a feel for English grammar.
You can download the Duolingo app on your phone, and you can download individual lessons to play offline with a Duolingo Plus account.
Read our full review of Duolingo here.
Key features: Great for improving your sentence construction skills
This is a simple online puzzle game where you need to make a sentence that describes a picture correctly within a time limit.
You’re shown a bunch of word-bubbles and you have to link them to create a sentence. As you keep making the right sentences in each level, the number of word-bubbles keeps on decreasing.
The game offers different speed options and lets you decide the vocabulary category. For instance, you can play the game with personal objects, food, animals, sports, jobs, nature, colors, letters or body parts.
23. Magnetic Poetry
Level: All levels
Key features: Game for practicing English writing without having to write
Originally an actual magnet set, Magnetic Poetry offers five complete kits for free online. Use the words you’re given to create poems, stories, jokes or anything that comes to your mind.
Challenge your friends to a race to see who’s the first to use 50 or 100 tiles and create a coherent (logical) story. Or try to journal your day by only using the set of words you get. Or write a geeky poem for your online crush.
You can actually create anything and everything with Magnetic Poetry, and since the free kits are in English, you’ll also practice your vocabulary and writing skills.
24. Fun English by studycat
Key features: Theme-focused games of many varieties
Fun English is an interactive game for kids, but it is helpful for adults learning English as well. The games are separated by theme so that you can focus on areas you need help with.
Fun English uses a lot of pictures to explain what the word is and to help you remember it as you play. Once you download you can play the full game without internet access.
Board Games to Learn English
Board games give you the chance to play with other English learners. This can make learning more motivating and lets you practice your English conversation skills. Here are the best board games for ESL learners!
Level: All levels
Key features: Old school word scramble game
Boggle is a fun game to play alone or with a group of friends. The goal is to create words by connecting letters on the Boggle board.
First, shake the board and display the mixed up letters. Set the timer and then start writing down all of the English words you can create from the letters on the board.
In the traditional game, words can only be formed by connecting letters that are next to one another. But, to practice even further, you can bend the rules and use any letters on the board to make your English words.
Level: All levels
Key features: Group game that’s similar to a crossword puzzle
Bananagrams is another game that lets you practice spelling English words, but this time, you’re racing against multiple people.
Each player takes a certain number of letter tiles. Start using these letters to build connecting words. Once you use all of your letters, shout “peel!” Every player must now take another tile from the pile.
To learn a specific type of vocabulary, you could also consider setting a theme, such as food or animals, and only building words that fit in that theme.
Level: All levels
Key features: Card game that helps improve your spelling
Rewordable is a card game that helps you learn to recognize and spell English words.
There are 120 cards in the deck that each contain a letter or letter combination. You use the cards in your hand to spell words. During the game, you can steal or build off of other players’ words.
This game might seem challenging, but after playing a few rounds you’ll start to understand how to play. This can be a fast-paced way to improve your fluency and expand your English vocabulary.
ESL Interactive Games for Group Learning
In-person group games, like party games in English, are another opportunity to play with other people. These give you yet another chance to improve your English conversation skills!
28. 20 Questions (Classic Version)
Level: All levels
Key features: Group game for practicing asking questions in English
This is a classic game for any skill level and the original in-person version of the digital game 20 Questions.
To play this game, one player thinks of a word. Then, the other players take turns asking “yes” or “no” questions to determine what word they’re thinking about.
To make this simpler, you can limit the words to specific categories, such as colors or countries. This is a fun party game that helps you practice English vocabulary as well as forming questions in English.
Level: All levels
Key features: Entertaining group game that combines several games into one
This game lets you practice your writing, reading and spoken English skills. You need a large group to play this game. To start, everyone writes down three simple English words. Next, throw each word in a bowl.
The game consists of three rounds. During the first round, players take turns pulling a word out of the bowl and describing the word to their teammates who must guess the word. After one minute, the round ends.
For the next round, use charades (silent gestures) to get your teammates to guess the words. For the final round, you can use just one word to help your teammates guess.
Key features: Fun group game for practicing listening comprehension
To play telephone, gather a group of eager language learners. Everyone sits quietly in a line. The first person thinks of an English word or phrase and whispers it to the person sitting next to them.
Then, that person whispers the word to the next person. This continues until the word reaches the last person. The last person repeats the word and everyone determines how much it changed from the front of the line.
This game lets you practice listening and speaking in English. It’s another fun game to play at a language-learning party.
Why Learn English from Games?
Having fun while learning English is a tried and true method that actually works. Here’s why:
- Games aren’t just for kids. Research shows that adults are actually more likely to remember information that they learned through an entertaining process.
- Games teach you a range of language skills. As you’ve seen through our list, you can use games to practice writing, speaking and listening to English.
- Games let you learn outside of a traditional classroom setting. Learning isn’t restricted to the classroom. If you can’t sign up for a formal English class, try using games to improve your fluency at home.
- Group games encourage conversations and boost confidence. If you can, try playing games in a group. This will give you the chance to practice your English conversation skills in a fun and low-stress environment.
- You can play English games anywhere. Language-learning games can be played online, at home, at coffee shops or at a party. The opportunities for English learning are endless.
In addition to games, another fun way to learn English is by watching videos. It can be very effective to learn vocabulary or grammar from the games above, and to implement a listening and watching element into your language learning routine through video.
FluentU has a large library of authentic content, such as movie clips, commercials, vlog posts and more. Each video comes with a set of interactive captions,which means that you can look up any word with just one click.
You also have the option of using it like a dictionary by typing a word into the FluentU search bar and seeing how it’s used in printed and video context examples and a memorable photo definition.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Even if you’re already taking an English class, games are a fun, effective supplement to your lessons.
Next time you want to sit down and play a game, try turning it into an English-speaking activity. That way, you’ll be practicing English without it even feeling like work.
Stay curious, my friends, and as always, happy learning (and playing)!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.