Friends make everything better.
That’s true for learning, too.
Studying doesn’t have to be something you do alone—especially when you want to improve your English conversation skills.
Grab a partner and you’ll learn more, better and faster!
But what should you do together?
We have 10 awesome game-like activities that you can do with your English study buddy.
Why Improve English Conversation with a Friend?
Not convinced yet? A learning partner makes studying better because:
- You now have two sources of information, which means you can learn from each other’s knowledge and strengths.
- It’s easier to focus since you’re working with someone else.
- You’re less likely to procrastinate (put off until later) studying, since you have someone else counting on (depending on) you.
- You can see things from someone else’s perspective, and find completely new and different ways to study.
- You can practice speaking English with an actual person.
- It’s more fun than studying alone!
Studying with a partner is a great way to change things up and make studying even more fun and enjoyable.
Who Can Be Your English Learning Partner?
Almost anyone can be a partner! Friends, fellow classmates, family members, teachers, language exchange partners and native speakers all make great study buddies.
When you’re looking for someone to study with, you want to choose someone who you can learn from. A native speaker or a teacher/professor make the best study partners since they already know the language, or know how to teach it. In return, you can offer to teach them your native language. There are many people who are looking for a “language exchange” partner of that kind.
If you can’t find a native speaker to study with, a fellow student is also a good choice. Ideally, your partner should be on a similar learning level as you. The two of you will learn a lot from each other, since everyone has different ways of learning and studying.
What do you do once you find someone to study with? You can continue to study the way you have been. Or you can try something different and play some conversation games! After all, having a partner means you can practice your conversation skills.
Here are some fantastic “games” you can play, which will help you learn English and practice speaking at the same time:
10 Fab 2-Player Games to Dramatically Improve Your English Conversation Skills
1. The ABC Game
How many words do you know that start with the letter “Z”? Now is a good time to learn more. With this game, you can improve your vocabulary, and learn to think a little faster and differently in English.
How to play: You and your partner have a conversation, taking turns with just one sentence each. Every sentence has to start with the next letter of the alphabet. You will have to do some creative thinking for this one. Try to go through all the letters of the alphabet. If someone messes up, start over!
You: Annie, why are you carrying so many bags?
Partner: Because I’m having a party later, so I bought a lot of things.
You: Can I come to your party?
Alternate version: Prepare a list of vocabulary before you start, and instead of using all the letters of the alphabet, use one vocabulary word in each sentence. Make it more fun and challenging by trying to get them into the conversation in the order they’re written.
2. Scenes from a Hat
Scenes from a Hat is a game from the comedy “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” In this modified (changed) version, you and a partner will get a chance to speak about different topics.
How to play: Write down some scenes, ideas and topics on pieces of paper. Throw these papers into a hat (or any container). You and your partner then take one paper out at a time and have a conversation about the topic for a few minutes.
Example: Here are some ideas you can use:
- Differences between today and the year 3000
- Bad times to break up with someone
- Great or terrible uses for a time machine
- Reasons summer is the best or worst season
You can visit this Reddit thread for more ideas, many of which use pop culture or current events.
Alternate version: Set a timer and speak by yourself for a few minutes about the topic, instead of having a conversation.
3. Past and Future
Here’s one that will help you practice English tenses. It’s also a good one to start study sessions with, since it’s very much like a real conversation you would have with someone.
How to play: Talk about what you did over the weekend, then what you plan to do next weekend.
“Last weekend I went to watch a movie called ‘The Avengers.’ It was great! Next week I will go to the movies again, to watch ‘Pixels.’ Everyone says it’s terrible, though…”
Need some practice hearing how English speakers use different tenses? Use FluentU!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.With FluentU, you can listen to authentic English conversations and then click any word in the subtitles for a definition and grammar info.
It’s the perfect way to learn English the way native speakers use it in real conversations! Plus, you can take it anywhere with the mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Alternate version: Predict what you will be doing on a weekend in October of 2040.
4. Ask the Expert
Sometimes the trick to speaking fluently is just to be confident. Of course you want to learn all the right words and grammar, but if you’re having a conversation you might have to keep speaking even if you’re not actually sure about something. This game will help you improve your confidence.
How to play: Write down a few things you’re an “expert” at, then have your partner ask you questions about one of the topics. Then switch roles and let your partner be the expert. Have fun making up answers when you don’t actually know.
You can be an expert on anything you know; here are some examples.
- Makeup and hair style expert
- Science fiction movie expert
- Math expert
- Board game expert
Alternate version: For some more fun, make up something silly. Why not be a cheese expert, or an expert on alien abductions?
5. Draw Me a Picture
When we speak we have one thing in mind. How do we know that the listener has the same thing in mind? This game will help you focus on being understood clearly.
How to play: Pick a picture on the Internet or in a book or magazine, and don’t show your partner. Instead, describe the picture with as much detail as possible while your partner tries to draw it.
When you’re done, share the two images and see how similar—or different—they are. Try to figure out if there was any misunderstanding; this can give you a good idea of what you can work on to improve your English speaking skills.
Example: You can find lots and lots of pictures on photo hosting websites like Flickr or Instagram. You can also try using Google Image search if you have a specific picture in mind, or check our the art website DeviantArt for ideas that are not just photographs.
Alternate version: Describe an image from your mind, instead of an actual image. Work together with your partner on this one, helping them get the picture as right as possible.
6. Twenty Questions
You might have played this game at some point in your childhood. It’s a simple game that can help you learn vocabulary and use some puzzle-solving skills.
How to play: Silently choose a noun (occupation, animal, place, anything!). Your partner has to try to guess what the word is by asking you “yes” or “no” questions. (Questions where the answer is either “yes” or “no.”) If your partner hasn’t guessed the noun in 20 questions, tell them the answer.
Example: If your noun is “broccoli,” the game might look like this:
A: Is it a person?
A: Is it a vegetable?
A: Is it green?
And so on!
Alternate version: You might find that the game soon becomes less about guessing a word and more about asking questions. Have fun with that, and let it turn into a conversation. You can ask each other questions and have a good English conversation where you practice your skills but also learn more about each other.
7. The Hyperbole
A hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration, like the phrase “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.” You couldn’t actually eat a horse, nor do you want to—it’s simply a huge exaggeration that’s a common phrase.
If you have trouble speaking confidently, or find that you’re uncertain a lot when speaking, this one’s for you!
How to play: Tell a made-up story about yourself that is as exaggerated as possible.
“One time I was at a restaurant when someone made a remark I didn’t like. So I grabbed a bottle and smashed it over the table and the next thing I know there are five guys surrounding me. That’s when the elephant came in…”
Alternate version: Tell a false story about yourself, but try to make it as convincing as possible. Can you make your partner forget you’re just making it up? You know you’re being a great storyteller when your partner asks “What happened next?”
8. Story Time
This is another good game for learning to “spin a tale.” It’s a fun way to become more fluent while telling an entertaining story.
How to play: Tell a story one sentence at a time, taking turns saying the sentences. It can be fun to make the story more and more ridiculous!
A: Once upon a time, there lived a very lonely prince.
B: The prince had no friends because he had the head of a frog.
A: One day, the prince found a woman with the head of a beautiful princess, but the body of a giant frog.
Alternate version: Write your story down instead. For some funny results, try this: Write two sentences, then cover the top sentence by folding the paper over it, and give it to your partner to repeat. In the end, unfold the paper and read the sure-to-be silly story.
9. Role Playing
Role playing is when you pretend you’re someone else. It’s used in everything from games to therapy, and can be a great way to relax a little and find a rhythm to your speech.
Since you’re being someone else, you will also have to be confident and do some acting, both of which help a lot with public speaking.
How to play: Create a character. Try to make him or her very different from you. Then decide on a scenario and act out what the conversation would be like.
- A quiet plumber and a mean princess meet at a movie that sold out.
- A man who owns a monkey interviews for a job with a rich businessman.
- A dramatic Italian cook is late for a date with a woman who lives with 20 cats.
Alternate version: You can create your character randomly by writing down character traits (like “lonely,” “outgoing,” etc.) and choosing one or two at random.
10. The Favorites Game
For our last game, we come back to regular conversations. This game is closer to a real conversation than a game, and it’s meant to get you talking naturally and comfortably.
How to play: You and your partner each share one of your favorite things (like a movie, food, place or anything else). Spend some time discussing your answers and why these things are your favorites.
A: I love Japan in the summer when the cicadas are singing.
B: Oh really? I’ve never been to Japan. That sounds amazing! I’ve visited Korea though.
A: What was that like?
Alternate version: This game is a good conversation starter. You can actually use it to start a real conversation with someone new who is not your partner. You will have had some practice too, so you can feel confident speaking with a stranger!
Which game do you like the best? Have fun learning with all of them!
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.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.