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Quick and fun vocab game

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Here's a simple and fun game that I played with my adult English learners.

Level intermediate-advanced although can be adapted for strong beginners
5-10 people
10-20 minutes

A ball, or something soft and throwable.

First have the students stand in a circle. The object of the game is to come up with words that are somehow associated with each other.

The teacher starts off with the ball in hand. The teacher then says one word, any word at all. For example: "Dog." The teacher then tosses the ball to a student. The student that you threw the ball to must then say a word associated with "dog." For example: "Cat" (animals) "Vet," "Walk" (because people walk their dogs), "Frisbee," Tail,"... etc. etc. There are hundreds of possibilities. After saying one word, the student then throws the ball to another student. The second student now must say a word that is associated with what was previously said.

Here is an example of what my conversation class came up with:

Test, cheat, divorce, wedding, ring, Lord of the Rings, New Zealand, country, travel, airplane, passport, photo, celebrity, Ken Watanabe, Samurai, etc.

It is up to you as the teacher to determine whether a word was associated or not. If I ever had a doubt about the association, I would ask the student and they would explain what they were thinking.

Sometimes, students won't understand a word (particularly if the levels are very different). I take this time to write the difficult words on the board along with the meaning, so after the game the students can make a vocabulary list.

You can enforce a 4 second time limit on the students and if they can't come up with an answer in 4 seconds they have to sit down. When play stops like this, the teacher starts off a new round with a new word and tosses the ball into the circle again. The last person standing is the winner. I didn't allow my students to say the same word twice in one round. (Example: Spiderman, movie, Terminator, movie)

Is it really fun?
I found the game to be pretty entertaining. The students were very creative with the words they chose. It encouraged "outside the box" thinking. It's easy to say words that are all animals, but if you do that, it is easy for the next person to come up with a word as well. So the students often tried to pick words that would switch the subject completely to keep the other students on their toes. The 4 second timer was very fun as well. People would applaud others' creativity and laugh at some of the more outrageous connections. They would also hold votes whether a word was associated or not.

Another good point about the game is that one of the lower level students in my class actually won! The game is good for vocabulary, but it also gives lower level students a chance. The game sounds really easy, but it can get quite difficult, even for me as an English native! Hope it works for you!

Jeff A.
Asuka, Japan

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