What Are the Different Types of Vocabulary Games?

B. Miller

There are many different types of vocabulary games that teachers or tutors often use with their students to encourage them to learn new words and become conversational with new vocabulary. Games in which students can compete against each other are quite popular, such as dividing the class into two teams, and having them answer questions using vocabulary words. Matching or guessing games, as well as fill-in-the-blank options, are games that students can play on their own. There are many different types of interactive vocabulary games to be found online as well, which students often enjoy because it allows them to play on the computer.

Crossword puzzles are great for advancing one's vocabulary.
Crossword puzzles are great for advancing one's vocabulary.

Group vocabulary games are popular in classes of all ages. They do not need to be particularly complex, either. The teacher can simply write a series of questions, for which the answer for each is a vocabulary word. Students can then guess the answers to the questions, and learn their vocabulary at the same time. Teachers might choose to make the game more difficult by asking students to use the word in a sentence as well as simply answering the provided question. Encouraging students to use the word themselves will make it more likely to become a part of their active vocabulary, which is the ideal goal. Other group games might involve having the students draw a picture of the word on the board or act out the word, if possible, and having other students guess it.

Vocabulary games help students learn new words.
Vocabulary games help students learn new words.

Encouraging students to play vocabulary games on their own might also be useful, particularly for down time during class. Word matching games for younger kids can be helpful, as well as crossword puzzles for more advanced students. Starting with one word, and then having kids try to think of as many synonyms or antonyms as possible can also be an effective way to teach that concept. Simply providing a list of words and a list of definitions, and having students match them up, can work as well.

In addition, there are many online vocabulary games to be found on the Internet. Schools may also purchase software programs that feature vocabulary games, to ensure students do not browse anywhere on the Internet they aren't supposed to. Kids tend to respond pretty well to these because they are generally very familiar with using computers, and enjoy the interactive nature of these games.

Tutors might develop vocabulary games as a way for students to learn material.
Tutors might develop vocabulary games as a way for students to learn material.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - They can be quite handy for learning languages as well. We used to play a lot of Spanish vocabulary games when I was at high school and it actually helped a surprising amount. I think, because they were competitive and the point was to try and retrieve the word quickly, you got used to being fast.

I particularly enjoyed playing Pictionary, which I'd never really considered to be a vocabulary game before, but it really is if you are just learning the basics.


@KoiwiGal - I suspect it has something to do with different parts of the brain operating in different ways. Telling a story isn't really the same thing as being able to think of particular words in a context. I know a lot of writers who never touch a pen without a thesaurus handy.

I think it also takes a lot of practice. I know I got better and better at doing crosswords when I was a kid, because you start to learn all the tricks and see how they work in different ways. Being ignorant is not always the same thing as being unintelligent.

Although I do think that vocabulary and word games are a very good way for people to exercise their brains.


Funnily enough, I was always very good at English but not so great at vocabulary games. Take a crossword, for example. I will know all the words, but I just won't be able to think of them when it comes to solving the puzzle. I can tell an awesome story, but I can't solve a riddle to save my life.

It's kind of annoying, actually, because people always assume I'd be good at this kind of thing and I feel like I let myself down.

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