As an EFL/ESL teacher in Thailand, one of the things I always found difficult was teaching English spelling. English, unfortunately, is not a language that has logical spelling. Even with grammar rules, there are so many exceptions spelling can be difficult for even the smartest student. In EFL classes where I taught children, I eventually created several lesson plans using games to make spelling in English easier and more fun. This free lesson plan using games is suitable for teaching spelling to children from ages five to 12 and, in some countries, children even older.
Lesson Plan Expected Learning Outcome – EFL/ESL students will be able to understand the vocabulary and, by the end of the class, spell at least 20 simple words correctly.
Materials and Resources – Whiteboard markers, whiteboard, flash cards, garbage cans or other containers and balls or paper balls.
Explain to your students that this class will be all about spelling. Ask some of your higher-level students to quickly spell simple English words (using things like ‘dog’ or ‘car’ with younger kids and more difficult words like ‘mathematics’ or ‘receive’ with older kids, to give examples of how to spell correctly. (3 minutes)
Put your students into teams. With large classes of 50 or so, try to put them into no more than five teams. With smaller classes, keep the teams to no more than 4-5 kids. (2 minutes)
Step Three (Game One):
Line the teams up one student behind another with the front student facing the board. Explain to students, you will be showing them a flash card or a photograph and that the front student has to run to the board and spell the name of the thing or person they see on the card/photograph. Other students in the team can help their team mate by shouting out the letters to the word (this makes it loud, fun and crazy). The first student to spell the word correctly wins a point for their team. Of course, at the end of each round, the front student goes to the back of the line and the second student in line becomes the first. Stop the game when each student has had two turns to spell at the board. (10-15 minutes, depending on number of students in each team)
Step Four (Game Two):
Keeping the students in their teams, write 10 letters on the board making sure you have at least 3 vowels in the group. Explain to students that they will have five minutes to think of as many words as possible using those 10 letters, but that every word they think of MUST be spelled correctly. (For my older students, if words are spelled incorrectly, they lose one point per word).
Each team must choose a leader who will be in charge of writing the words down on a piece of paper. When they have THREE words written down, the leader can run to the board and write those words on the board. Then run back and the team can think of three more. At the end of every five minute round, the team with the most words on the board (and spelled correctly), gets 5 points to add to their total. Also at the end of each round, 10 different letters are written on the board for the next round. (15 minutes or 3 rounds).
Step Five (Game Three):
Still keeping students in their teams, write a category on the board (body parts, animals, jobs, cars, countries – anything you’ve covered in previous classes). Set up a garbage can, box or other container for each team at the back of the classroom plus give each team something to throw in it (tennis balls, table tennis balls, balls of paper – anything they can safely throw inside).
Explain to students, you will name a category and then shout “Go” and one student from each team must run to the board and write down a word that fits under that category. When they’ve finished, they must run back to their team and the next student goes. When there are THREE words on the board, the student who wrote the third word must run to the back of the classroom and throw a ball/paper ball etc into the container. (Draw a yellow line on the classroom floor and they must stand on this line for the throw to count). Every ball they get into the container counts as 10 points.
During the game, change the category every five minutes so they will have to think of and spell vocabulary under three different categories. The winning team is the one with the most balls/pieces of paper in the container at the end of 15 minutes. (15 minutes or 3 categories).
This lesson plan is for a 50 minute class but, if you have an hour, spend the last 10 minutes going over spelling and assigning the misspelled words for homework.
1. Students will be able to spell words they have covered in previous classes, 2. behavior, participation and attention in class, 3. how well do they play as a team.
Learning how to spell English vocabulary doesn’t have to be boring and learning it by playing fun (and boisterous) games has actually proven to be more successful than learning how to spell by rote.
This free EFL/ESL lesson plan can be used by children of any EFL skill level. Just make it simpler or more difficult depending on your students’ abilities.