ESL Games: Words of Fortune

Please welcome Marc Anderson as the newest TESOL blogger. Marc’s biweekly blogs will focus on sharing fun, interactive games for you to use and adapt in your English language classes. Marc’s previous blogs with TESOL as a guest blogger include the highly popular “Best Language Learning Games” series. 

The Game: The object of Words of Fortune is to form the best possible words from any of the 8 letters that describe the word challenge card in each play.

Research Says: Research supports the use of a vocabulary game like this to bring real world context into the classroom and enhance students’ use of English in a flexible, communicative way (Asian EFL Journal, December, 2003.)

What You Need

  • 50–75 category cards printed on index cards or card stock (2 inches by 3 inches). Students can help you brainstorm various categories. For example:
    • Something noisy
    • Name of a city
    • Something needed for a job
    • Something found only in a jungle
    • Something that is fun!
  • 100 letter tiles you can print on card stock (1.5 inches by 1.5 inches):
    • 1 point for vowels: 8 As, 10 Es, 5 Is, 5 Os, and 5 Us
    • 3-point consonants: 3 Bs, 2 Cs, 4 Ds, 4 Fs, 3 Gs, 5 Hs, 2 Ks, 2 Ls, 2 Ms, 3 Ns, 5 Ps, 6 Ss, and 6 Ts
    • 5-point consonants: 1 J and 1 Y
    • 7-point consonants: 1 Q, 3 Rs, 3 Vs, 2 Ws, 1 X, and 2 Zs
    • 0-point wild card (6).

What You Do
Turn the letter tiles face down. Players or (groups of players) randomly choose 8 tiles. (After each round you can put the tiles back into the pile or choose to only use the remaining tiles.)

Players form single words using their tiles that best match the category. You can play with a set time for players to think of a word, or not be bound by time. Players can play individually or in teams.

Add up the single letter points for each round. There are 6 wild tiles that are also in the mix, but these are not worth any points. They can be used for any letter. Play a round at a time or play for a certain number of rounds and compare the totals among players, or compare your individual score from each time you play. Proper nouns are allowed, but no contractions or slang.

How to Score Points
Example for the category “Something that is fun!”

  1. If the word does not relate to the word challenge but it is still a word that is correctly spelled in the English language, it receives the total score based on the letters.CARPET 3 + 1 + 7 + 3 + 1 + 3 = 18 points
  2. If the word has a connection to the challenge card, but there is more than one meaning with the same spelling that would not fit the challenge card, double the letter points.PARTY 3 + 1 + 7 + 3 + 5 = 19 x 2 = 38 points
    (Definition #1—Social gathering—fits category; Definition #2—Political party—does not fit category)
  3.  If the word relates to the challenge card, then triple the letter points.CIRCUS   3 + 1 + 7 + 3+ 1 + 3 = 18 x 3 = 54 points

Have fun with this game!

Do you see other variations that might work well for English language learners? Or have you used this game in your class? Please share!

About Marc Anderson

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson is the CEO of online English training company TalktoCanada.com that teaches English online to students around the world. During his free time he likes to read, travel and enjoy life.
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