ESL Games: Connect Four and More!

The Game: Connect Four and More! helps students practice their pronunciation in a fun way. It is modeled after the basic Connect Four math game for younger children, where the goal is to get four in a row and win. This version combines the traditional, simple logic with a focus on ESL skills. Played either with a partner, in small groups, or even in a larger group setting, it is sure to bring excitement to language learning.

Materials Needed

  • 6 x 6 grids on paper or a whiteboard/blackboard
  • Selected words to pronounce (review of words that have been previously introduced, words that are difficult for the class, words typically used, etc.)
  • Assorted markers (one color for each of two opponents)

How to Play

  1. One person (if playing with a partner) or one person called on from a team Untitled1pronounces a word on the grid. If it is pronounced correctly, a colored circle is drawn around the word.
  2. The opposing person or one team member pronounces a selected word. Likewise, if pronounced correctly, a different colored circle is drawn around the word.
  3. The goal is to get 4 in a row correctly, either horizontally, vertically or diagonally.
  4. When one person/team wins, the game is over.
  5. The class can play with the same words again, scramble the words across a new grid or use new words.
  6. On the rare instance that there is a draw, begin the game over again with different colored markers or use a new grid.

How to Make It

  1. Draw a 6 x 6 grid on the board or on paper.
  2. The teacher can draw the grid or students can make their own. Another suggestion is to have premade grids for student use.
  3. Above each column, write words that the students have recently studied or words that the students have difficulty pronouncing.


  1. Vary the words according to the age, ability, and interest of the students.
  2. For more advanced students, place words that are similar in pronunciation on the grid (i.e. light and right; through, though; stay, stray). So for example, if the student means to say “right” and says “light,” then her or she must put a circle on “light.” This visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approach to learning pronunciation is a sure way to help your students improve their English skills.
  3. Students can select words for other groups of students with guidance from the teacher.
  4. The class can have a competition with playoff brackets to determine a class winner.
  5. Connect Four and More! can be modified to reinforce and teach other ESL skills. For example, homonyms (e.g. bare, bear) or general vocabulary words can be placed on the grid. The students must use the words correctly (homonyms, if using homonyms; general vocabulary words, if using vocabulary words) in a sentence before the word is circled. Alternatively, students can be required to provide parts of speech, synonyms/antonyms, definitions, etc.

About Marc Anderson

Marc Anderson
Marc Anderson is the CEO of online English training company 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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2 Responses to ESL Games: Connect Four and More!

  1. Thanks for the awesome comment 🙂

  2. Lauren says:

    That is such a great idea!!! I am going to use it in my classroom. It is hard coming up with different ideas to teach to your students and is more difficult thinking of different ideas in how to make it more interesting. I want to use this not only for my English learners but for my other students as well. This is a great game!

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