Standing in a field in a rural village in Papua New Guinea I am surrounded by yams and children. I’m meant to be touring the village with a guide to learn about life in this remote region of the Highlands, but find myself looking back at the group of children that gathers near us, following at a safe distance and clearly bustling with curiosity.
I find myself wanting to engage with these children but I can’t think of a way to authentically do so until it dawns on me -- we should play a game! I turn to the children and proclaim “I am a monster.” Holding my hands above my head and putting on a menacing scowl I chase them down a path and into a field where our game erupts into a full on game of tag. Laughter echoes across all corners of the village, bringing a smile to the adults I see as well.
That afternoon reminded me of the value games play in helping children connect and learn, even if there is a language barrier. This is a lesson I learned first hand while teaching English abroad in Spain: games are not only powerful tools to help build authentic connections, but can also teach language concepts.
If you’re reading this then your likely teaching abroad also, or perhaps about to embark on a teach abroad program, and may be in need of a few good ideas. We’ve shared classic ESL games before, but we have even more ideas up our sleeve that we wanted to share. Enjoy these ten additional great games for ESL teachers abroad and let the learning begin!