Let’s Play Online!

I love games, because playing a game is like living a short life with a very happy end: if the game is interesting, engaging and meets the educational goals, each participant is enriched with either new skills developed, or existing skills enforced, or, on the part of a teacher, with the feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment.

There is a ton of great games around for vocabulary and grammar that are easy to find on the Internet, or in books, and that are sure to make lessons memorable and effective. I mean offline lessons, but how about online? Now that more and more teachers opt for working online, mostly in one-to-one format via Skype or a similar application, there is surely a demand in either creating new games for this purpose, or in adaptations of the good old offline language games.

I would like to share my personal experience of making such adaptations and using them in online one-to-one teaching via Skype with the help of some other digital tools.

As I wrote in one of my previous articles here and in the second part of the article here, my students use Trello for recording and storing vocabulary, which is very useful, because we can always go back to what we have learnt any time before and use it for revision. It is like a “time machine”. One of the games that we love playing online is “Associations”.


The teacher directs the student to one of the Trello boards with their vocabulary, and explains that the student should choose any 10 words from the vocabulary section of the board. The teacher does the same thing, choosing 10 words from the same board, from the vocabulary section of the student, and then both the student and the teacher write their associations for each word. For example, if the word is “a table” my association might be “food”. It is important to explain to the student that it is associations that they are expected to write, not synonyms or explanations. The connection between an association and the original word is kept in secret from each other.

Playing the game

When both the teacher and the student are ready with their 10 associations, they can start the game. One of the players says his/her association, and the other one should guess what the original word is. I recommend that the teacher should start the game to show how to play it right. It is allowed to look at the vocabulary section of the Trello board for both players any time during the game. The teacher and the students take it in turns to give their association for the partner to guess the original word. When the game is over, it is useful to ask the student why certain words are associated in this or that way and if some associations have a logical explanation.

If you like the idea of adapting offline vocabulary or grammar games, or any other type of games to online format, share your ideas in the comments, please!

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For almost 20 years I have been helping adult learners speak English, which for most of them was not only a learning challenge, but also a path to discover their potential and to believe in their abilities. It has also been a 20 year long journey for me to discover myself and my place in this world, for which I am sincerely grateful to my dear students.Read more

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