Online games to practice English changed everything for a friend of mine.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
My friend just couldn’t get anywhere with English class. He’s a French speaker from Canada and was studying English as a second language in school.
It seemed like no matter how many times he reviewed his notes and did his homework, he wasn’t able to improve.
Eventually, he stopped spending so much time studying English and just started playing online English games instead.
Many English learners have had this experience. Maybe you have, too.
The good news is that playing ESL games turned out to be the best choice my friend could’ve made for his language skills.
As he played, he’d spend hours using English to talk to his teammates and opponents in the game.
And you know what? He started learning how to hold English conversations with people!
After a short while, he was using English confidently and more naturally.
This is because one of the best ways for you to learn English is to turn your hobbies into language-learning experiences.
It makes English practice fun, exciting and valuable to you. It helps you to memorize vocabulary words and practice speaking and writing in English in a way that’s both fun and educational.
In this post, I’ll get you started with 22 excellent, interactive online games to practice English.
I’ll start with some that were developed especially for language learners. Then I’ll show you how to practice English online just like my friend did, with single- and multi-player English games that native speakers play.
Game On! The 22 Best Online Games to Practice English
Word Games to Practice English
Word games can be hit or miss (either great or terrible). In other words, they’re either really fun to play, or they’re extremely boring.
That’s why we’ve picked out the best ESL games for you.
The games below were created specifically to help English language learners improve their skills. Not only does this give you focused language practice, but it also ensures you’re practicing at the right level for your skills.
The Grammar of Doom from GameZone
Key question: Is there any retro game to practice English for free?
The Grammar of Doom is an adventure-style game where you explore secrets hidden within an old, magical temple.
To get an idea of the game, imagine if Indiana Jones taught your English class.
There are a total of 10 rooms in the temple, and each room has its own series of puzzles that you have to solve using English.
In order to move to the next room and eventually (finally, in the end) beat the game, you have to use your grammar and vocabulary skills to create English sentences and solve these puzzles.
Level: All levels.
Key question: What’s the most comprehensive and fun way to learn English?
FluentU transforms authentic, entertaining English videos into fun online games to practice English.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU 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'll 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 is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
Level: All levels.
Key question: What’s the best word game to improve my 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, and every time you make a new word, you get points.
The letters don’t have to touch each other or be in a particular pattern like they do in crossword puzzles, and you’re able to select letters in any order.
Since there aren’t any complicated rules with Wordshake, it’s a good vocabulary-building game for beginners and advanced students alike.
Human Brain Cloud
Level: All levels.
Key question: Is there a word association game to practice English for free?
The Human Brain Cloud is a project, a game, a learning tool, a social experiment…
It’s anything you want it to be, and it’s awesome.
Described as “a massively multiplayer word association game,” the Human Brain Cloud is as simple as it is complex (that has many connected parts).
You’re given random words, and your goal is to type in words, expressions or even sentences you associate with the words you get.
For example, if you’re given the word “single,” your answer can be “ladies,” “married,” “me,” “and ready to mingle,” “double” or anything that comes to your mind when you see that word.
There are no right or wrong answers. The Human Brain Cloud simply takes your answers and adds them to the association bank.
After you’ve introduced your answer, you’re told how many people in the world made the same word association, and if you’re the first, you’ll get the message “new association.”
But the best part of the Human Brain Cloud comes when you click on a word.
Do that and 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.
Every word you click will become the central word and be surrounded by other associated words!
If you’re not afraid of spending hours clicking on words and making word associations, the Human Brain Cloud is your game.
Or was it a learning tool?
Fun fact: The cloud started with just one word (volcano), and it’s about to reach 800,000 unique words.
4 Pics 1 Word
(Android | iOS)
Level: All levels.
Key question: What’s the most entertaining yet simple app to practice English vocabulary?
What do mountain biking, a walnut, six-pack abs and a rock have in common?
What about fire, a volcano, soup and coffee?
OK, one more: what do a plane, light, Usain Bolt and a cheetah have in common?
They’re all super fast!
These are just three examples out of the hundreds you’ll get while playing 4 Pics 1 Word.
The rules of the game are super simple: you get four pictures that have something in common, and you have to guess what it is.
Sometimes the answer is very 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?
Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee
Key question: Is there a spelling game for advanced English learners?
If you thought spelling games were for kids, get ready to sweat with Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee.
Even though the Visual Thesaurus isn’t free, the Spelling Bee game is, and it’s full of goodies (attractive and nice things) to help you learn English.
The simplicity of the page hides a deliciously difficult spelling game not apt for the faint of heart (people without courage).
The rules are simple: 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.
For intermediate learners, I recommend listening to the word and reading the definitions, but advanced learners can bump it up (go one level higher) and try to guess the word by just reading its definitions.
Level: All levels.
Key question: Is there a game to practice English writing without having to write?
I remember getting my first Magnetic Poetry kit some 20 years ago.
It was a Christmas present. 200 word tiles in English and one promise: “Magnets That Reveal The Poet Within.”
20 years later, my original Magnetic Poetry kit has been to five countries and moved in and out of 11 houses, and it has helped me make many memories along the way.
Magnetic Poetry has grown a lot since it was created. It can now be found in several different languages and in the form of over 100 thematic kits.
And although the way of using it has remained the same, it’s super interesting to see these little magnetic words get known worldwide.
Magnetic Poetry offers five complete kits for free online (the original kit and four thematic ones).
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 in English.
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.
Adaptive Spelling Quiz by SpellQuiz
Key question: How can I teach (or learn) English with fun games and quizzes?
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 if you make mistakes.
- 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.
- You can check your word and mistake statistics.
- You can unlock (open, discover) achievements and see where you are in the global ranking.
- You can register and have access to all this and many other tests, quizzes and much, much more for free.
Well… That’s SpellQuiz. Enjoy!
Word Games by Learn English Today
Level: All levels.
Key question: How can I improve my English vocabulary with word games?
You came here looking for a word game. How about 135?
Learn English Today’s creator woke up one day and thought to himself, “I’m going to create the biggest collection of word games online.”
And so he did.
This story is probably not true, but what’s true is that Learn English Today offers 135 free word games to help you improve your English vocabulary while having fun.
Divided into four levels (easy, medium, more difficult and challenging) and five categories (crossword puzzles, jumbled sentences, quizzes, missing words and matching exercises – broken sentences), 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 ones, in case you want to try them:
- Phrasal Verbs (Crossword puzzles, level “More difficult”).
- Sightseeing (Missing words, level “Challenging”).
- Preposition Quiz 1 (Quizzes, level “Easy”).
Key question: What’s the most challenging word game for English students?
If I told you this simple name hides one of the most difficult but also entertaining and addictive games I’ve ever played in my life, I wouldn’t be lying.
7 Words is super easy to play: 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.
Other than that and three hints (a small piece of practical information), that’s all you have to complete the 777 puzzles included in the game.
When you guess one word, its definition gets crossed out (a line is drawn over it) and the corresponding tiles disappear.
Fun fact: I’ve completed the 777 puzzles twice. It took me about one week each time because I was constantly thinking about it and couldn’t stop playing it.
ESL Crossword Puzzles
Level: All levels.
Key question: Where can I find the best ESL crossword puzzles?
Crossword puzzles are great for people who like a challenge, and for English language learners they’re 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. (Many of them are even too difficult for native English speakers who aren’t good at trivia, or general knowledge questions.)
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 and difficulties 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.
What’s especially helpful is that you’re also able to choose from various themes, including:
- Common words in English (Easy).
- Medical vocabulary (Intermediate).
- English words from other languages (Advanced).
Key question: Is there a game to 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 online 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.
Quiz Your English App
Level: All levels.
Key question: Which game is the best for learning English for an official exam?
If you’re a grammar lover and you enjoy learning English on your phone while on the bus, during your lunch break or on your couch, this app is perfect for you.
Quiz Your English was produced by Cambridge University Press, so you know it’s a quality product.
It allows you to play against any other user in the world, and you can also invite and compete against your friends. Who will win?
Set your profile by logging in with your Facebook or Google account, choose your country and you’re ready to play!
You’ll see different topics available, divided by level. Choose the level and topic you want to play and the app will find an opponent (a player to play against) for you.
Some packs of questions can only be accessed if you pay for them. This option can be helpful if you want to practice a specific topic, or if you want to get access to the Cambridge English Exams Pack, which will help you to practice for the official exams.
When playing against someone, you’ll get questions to fill in the gaps with four possible answers. If you answer correctly, you can go to the next question, but if you make a mistake, the game will end.
After each game, you’ll be able to see who won, your points and a menu where you can choose to play again, challenge someone (invite them to play against you) or see the world’s and your country’s rankings.
Lovatts Free Online Trivia
Key question: Is there a trivia game for advanced English students?
If you’re an expert in world facts, you’re going to love Lovatts Trivia, because let me tell you, some of the questions are only for trivia pros (professionals)!
If you’re an intermediate or an advanced English learner, this game is perfect to practice 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.
But even if you don’t answer any question right, this game will help you practice your English and to learn tidbits (small pieces) of random information about the world and fun facts about the English language, which is awesome.
There are seven categories you can choose from: General Knowledge, Dictionary, Entertainment, History, Food & Drink, Geography and Science & Nature.
The system remembers your highest score, allowing you to challenge yourself time and time again (many times).
Each quiz includes 10 questions, some of which can appear again when you retake the quizzes.
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.
Level: All levels.
Key question: Is it possible to learn English with Alexa?
When I was a kid, I used to play 20 Questions with my friends during recess (break between classes in primary school).
We didn’t have smartphones or apps back in the ’80s, so we just wrote down a word on a piece of paper and let the rest of the players ask questions.
The basic rules were: One person chooses a word, and the rest of the players take turns asking “yes” or “no” questions. You can only ask 20 questions—if no one can guess the word before 20 questions are up, the person who chose the word wins!
Originally, the only possible answers to the questions were “yes,” “no” or “I don’t know,” but the game has evolved with time, and now there are a lot of other possible answers you can choose from, like “maybe,” “sometimes,” “probably,” etc. (More on these in a moment.)
If you access 20 Questions from your computer or laptop, choose the option Think in American (or British, if you need to practice your British English).
Think of an animal, vegetable, mineral, concept or unknown word.
The category Unknown includes things like prime numbers, months or the words “tomorrow,” “infinity” and “reincarnation,” although most of them could be included in the Concept category.
There’s also the option of playing with Alexa.
This is a wonderful way to practice both speaking and listening comprehension at the same time, so if you have the chance, give it a try.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad, you can download the game and play it when you’re not on your computer.
Once you have chosen your word, the system will start asking questions that you’ll have to answer with “yes,” “no,” “unknown,” “irrelevant” (not important), “sometimes,” “maybe,” “probably,” “doubtful,” “usually,” “depends,” “rarely” or “partly.”
If you’re playing on your computer, each question together with your answer will appear on your 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 doesn’t get it right, it’ll ask you a few more questions and give you some more answers. If it’s not able to guess your word, you win!
You can also play themed versions of the game, which include questions from “Star Wars,” “The Simpsons,” sports, TV and more. The rules for the themed versions are the same, but they include two new word categories: Person and Place.
Level: All levels.
Key question: Is there a game to practice English with definitions of words?
If I confess that I, an almost 38-year-old with a Ph.D. in English, play this game like crazy and can’t get enough of it, you’ll probably think that I need a life or I’m a nerd (spoiler alert: I’m a huge nerd).
Knoword has to be one of the most entertaining, enjoyable and fun games the whole internet has to offer. My younger students have cried on a few occasions because they didn’t finish their assignments on time and were unable to play!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, an intermediate learner or an advanced vocabulary virtuoso (master, highly skilled person)—at any level, this game is for you.
The rules are very simple: You have one minute to read as many definitions as you can and write the correct answer.
Every 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.
At the end of the game, you’ll be able to see the number of correct answers, your accuracy and your points, among other stats (information).
The best part? After every game, you’ll get some random game suggestions on different specific topics.
Choose your favorite topics and practice/learn English vocabulary like a boss with Knoword.
If you want to go one step further, log in with your Facebook or Google account to save your progress, create your own word packs and browse all the available packs created by Knoword and other users like you!
Key question: What’s the best game to practice English proofreading?
Do you think you have what it takes to be a proofreader?
Are you detailed-oriented, good at finding spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and want to take your English to the next level?
In that case, Proof It! is the game for you.
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).
Authentic English Games for Language Practice
Along with the English word games we just covered, you can also use authentic games that native English speakers play.
And since many of these games have multiplayer options with text and voice chat, having English conversations with your friends is easier than ever.
We’ll start off with a popular language-focused board game, then four exciting video games that English speakers love.
Key question: Is there a board game to improve my English vocabulary I can also play online?
“Scrabble” might not be a game designed specifically for learning English, but it’s a great way to test your vocabulary knowledge with friends.
Originally designed as a board game, you can now play “Scrabble” online with friends or against the computer. All you need to do is enter your age to play!
The rules to play “Scrabble” are simple. You choose seven letters in the form of tiles and use them to make words. 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.
Every square has a letter and number written on it that represents the points that you get for using that letter.
As you play online, you can chat with the other players. Just type messages in the chat space to the right of the Scrabble board.
And remember, “Scrabble” can get very challenging toward the end, even for native English speakers, so don’t become frustrated if you struggle to make a word and have to pass on a turn. It happens to all of us!
“Call of Duty”
Key question: Is there any video game with a voice chat feature that will allow me to practice my English conversation skills?
The “Call of Duty” series includes some of the most popular action games of all time.
In these games, you play the role of a soldier, where you and your team work together to defeat the other team.
The “Call of Duty” games also come with a voice chat feature where you can chat, make jokes and come up with strategies with your teammates—or have conversations with anyone before and after a game starts.
This is a great opportunity to practice English skills that you might not get from the classroom, like:
- Listening to different English accents, including accents of other second-language speakers.
- Learning informal English and slang.
- Becoming more accustomed (used to) to speakers who naturally talk quickly or slowly.
“League of Legends”
Key question: Is there any free adventure video game I can use to practice English?
“League of Legends” is a free adventure game where teams work together to complete various quests.
The game has a built-in chat feature, where you can talk to people using text.
But since a large portion of the game requires communicating with your teammates, a lot of people like supplementing the game with voice chat programs like Discord or TeamSpeak to talk to one another.
If your friends already have a Discord channel, simply ask them for the address to join. Otherwise, you can create your own by downloading the program and following the easy-to-understand instructions and then link them to your chatroom.
Key question: What’s the best “video game + chatroom” option to practice English?
“VRChat” isn’t like any other game that you’ve ever played before.
In fact, it’s more like a chatroom with a video game world built into it—you even help create the world!
Simply choose your character and chat with thousands of people from across the world using text or voice chat.
You’ll get to explore more than 25,000 virtual worlds and talk with new people while doing so.
Key question: Is there any video game that’ll allow me to immerse myself in English completely?
Do you enjoy having supernatural powers and visiting beautiful lands while fighting enemies and improving your English?
Say no more!
Become Geralt of Rivia and press “play”!
This game is massive (very big) and has won the hearts of millions during the last couple of years.
It’s available in 14 languages, and seven of them (English included!) have had the full audio translated, which means you have subtitles, full dialogues and even songs translated!
There are several ways you can use “The Witcher” to learn English, apart from chatting with other players.
For starters, you can choose to play the game in your native language (if it’s available) and switch on the English subtitles.
You can also go for a total immersion experience and set the audio to English as well, so all you’ll hear is English throughout the whole game.
If the game isn’t enough for you, you can have a look at the superb (great, fantastic) series Netflix has created. It’s also called “The Witcher,” and it’s worth a watch even if it’s just because you want to admire the beauty of the scenery.
In case you’re not satisfied yet, you can also find some advanced English classes around the topic of “The Witcher” and even videos of the “real” Witcher (Henry Cavill) reading parts of one of the books.
Have Fun and Practice Your English
There are a number of online games to practice English with, no matter what your hobbies and interests are.
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 gaming)!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.
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