If there's one thing you can never have enough of, it's games to play in the ESL classroom. Here are some easy games to use in the ESL classroom. All of these activities can be changed to suit the level of your students and many of them can be tailored to fit in at the last minute if you need.
Difficulty: Reeeeeeeeally easy
Simple, fun, the kids love it, great for competitions and above all, it doesn't need to take very long which means you can use it to fill in those last few minutes of class when you've finished early. The instruction are pretty simple: divide the class into teams and have them draws lots to see who goes first, second, third, etc. Be sure to lay down some rules for speaking out of turn since things can get out of hand and some students might feel cheated if they aren't given their proper time to make a guess. Go through the “first line” of each team, then repeat the process as necessary to save the guy from getting hanged.
Difficulty: Ease to Medium
Start with the letter “A” and work your way through the alphabet from there. Go through each student for the whole the game. You can increase the difficult level by restricting the category to one or two (fruits, animals, countries, etc.) or simply by timing how long it takes to go through the entire alphabet.
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Similar to the Chain Alphabet game but different because, instead of going through the alphabet, you will begin with one word then have the students go up to the board to write the next word using the last letter of the word before it, and so on. This game not only utilizes the students' vocabulary, but it gives them a chance to spell a write, too.
Play a Song
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Pick a song, play it to the class then, either using a pre-written grid, write a bunch of words both from the song and false words in the grid. Play the song again and see if the students can pick out which words are sung. You can make this even more difficult by using phrases, though using full sentences might prove to be a little too easy. Depending on the level of your students, you can use different songs that they may be familiar with or something that may be completely new to them. Not only will they appreciate to do something fun in class, they might hear something new which they can then take with them!
Difficulty: Easy to Hard
Draw two ovals on your blackboard similar to a race track and create equal segments throughout. Every second or third square, write down an activity. For example, sing a song, turn around five times, spell a word, look at a picture and make a proper sentence, etc. This game is best used as a review of material you've already covered before so the students will at least recognize some of the cues to the questions or tasks asked. Dividing the kids into teams, use different colour pawns to denote each time. Using a dice, give each student a turn to roll the dice and move the pawn throughout the race track. You can keep score either by the number of correct tasks performed or by the number of times each team makes it through the board.