When you teach a language, you’re usually teaching a lot of vocabulary and grammar. Vocabulary are the words we use and grammar is how we organize them in a way so that people understand what we’re saying. However, native English teachers, especially those teaching ESL abroad are often expected to be a cultural ambassador as well. In essence, they are expected to show students what life is like in their countries. That’s why we need things like ESL Halloween activities and games.
ESL Halloween Lesson Ideas
If you do want to celebrate a holiday with students, Halloween is one of the best! It’s just a fun day of dressing up, watching scary movies and eating junk food.
Halloween is a popular holiday in the USA and Canada, but many other countries around the world celebrate it in some way as well. It can be an interesting class for the students to do some ESL Halloween activities to share a little bit of what this holiday means to you. Plus, your students will certainly encounter some new vocabulary words that they’re never seen before.
Let’s get to some of my favourite ESL Halloween activities and games that you can try out with your students today.
ESL Halloween Games and Activities: Top 13
Are you ready for the good stuff? Let’s get to my top picks for Halloween games and activities that you can try out with your ESL/EFL students today.
#1: Halloween Charades
If you’re looking for a fun “party” game to play with your students, then Charades is definitely one of my top picks. The key requirement is that students have some familiarity with Halloween vocabulary. If they don’t, then consider doing another activity beforehand, such as #3 on this list: listening comprehension.
Divide the class up into 2 teams. Someone from the first team picks a word out of the hat, and then has to act it out while his or her team guesses the correct answer. Switch it up and someone from the next team goes.
Find out more here: Charades for ESL/EFL Students.
As an alternative, you could do this with drawing as well and it turns into Pictionary.
#2: Halloween Bingo
Let’s get real here, who doesn’t love a good Bingo game? Basically everyone does, including university students in Korea which is why this can make quite a fun Halloween game for ESL.
You can make up a Halloween themed one for your students, but you may have to pre-teach them some vocabulary. I usually choose around 30 words that I have on a PowerPoint.
However, the even better way is to elicit Christmas words from your students and write them on the whiteboard. Give students a blank Bingo grid, and they can choose which words to include and where to put them. Have enough variety of words so that you have only 1 winner for each round.
And because I’m all about learning English, even on party days in class, I don’t do the regular Bingo where you just say the word. Instead, I describe the word and students have to choose the correct one. Learn more here: ESL Speaking Bingo.
Quick teaching tip about Bingo: Get student to just cross off each word with an X, instead of scribbling it out entirely so that you can check answers at the end. And of course, bring a small prize for the winner of each round!
#3: Listening Comprehension (Halloween Themed)
If you want your class to have some learning value, and not just be all fun and games, then you’ll want to consider using this Halloween listening comprehension video. Of course, you should design a lesson around it to get the most value out of it. More details here: ESL Listening Lesson Plan Template.
Or, here are the basis steps you can follow:
- Set the context by having students talk with a partner about their experiences with Halloween. Or for beginners, just have them say some words that they associate with this holiday (costume, trick-or-treat, etc.).
- Assign some simple true/false questions based on the listening.
- Have students listen the first time, then compare answers with a partner and the entire class.
- Assign some more detailed listening comprehension questions.
- Have students watch the video a second time and then answer the questions and compare with a partner and the entire class.
- Do some follow-up activities. It could be something on this list, or use your imagination!
Halloween Vocabulary ESL
Did you just teach your students some of the key Halloween vocabulary? Then you may want to check out this listening comprehension video on YouTube to test your students’ knowledge.
#4: Halloween Puzzles and Word Searches
If you want to have a bit of a quieter, but still fun activity you can do related to Halloween, consider making some worksheets for your students. With the following resource, you can make word searches, hidden messages, mazes, etc. in just a few minutes with minimal effort:
#5 Halloween Speaking Activities: On Halloween, I’m Going to See ____
If your students know a decent amount of Halloween vocabulary, particularly related to costume ideas, then you’ll want to consider playing this memory circle game. In a smaller class of fewer than 10 students, play it all together. Or, in a bigger class, you can divide students up into smaller groups.
The first person starts the game off with, “On Halloween, I might see a (ghost).” The next person repeats what the first person said, but adds their own costume idea on to the list.
Each following person has to repeat all the costumes in the exact order. If they make a mistake, they sit down and they’re out of the game. Continue on until only 1 person is left standing.
More details here: Memory Circle Game.
#6: The Candy Jar Contest
This is a fun school-wide activity that doesn’t really focus on English, but it can be a nice competition. Put a certain number of Halloween candies in a jar and let each student have one guess. The student how gets closest to the correct number wins the jar of candies.
#7: Halloween Concentration
Concentration is one of my favourite ESL memory games, and you can also use it with Halloween vocabulary. If you don’t have Halloween flashcards that’ll work, it’s easy to make your own or print them off from the Internet.
For beginners, you’ll probably want to have students match a picture to the word. For more advanced students, you can have them match words and definitions.
Some ideas for vocabulary can be found below. To see more details about this fun Halloween game, check this out: Concentration ESL Memory Game.
#8: Haunted House Classroom
For some fun and excitement, the teachers at your school could turn a spare classroom or library into a haunted house. Turn off the light and fill it with all sorts of creepy things. My personal favourite is the bowl of creepy things that students have to touch without seeing what it is!
#9: Chain Spelling ESL Halloween Game
A nice way to review new Halloween vocabulary is to play this fun spelling game. The way it works is that everyone has to stand up. Then, you say a word and students have to spell out the word, letter by letter. If someone misses the letter, they are “out” and have to sit down. The winner is the last person standing.
#10: Halloween ESL Flashcard Game
#11: Telephone ESL Halloween Activity
If you teach kids, try out this speaking activity. You’ve probably even played it before. The way it works is that students pass a sentence along down the line by whispering it to their neighbor. In this case, you’d want to choose something related to Halloween.
Then, you compare the sentence to the original one. The results are most often hilarious!
#12: A-Z Halloween Vocabulary Challenge
Unless your students are absolute beginners, it’s likely that they already know a good amount of Halloween words. If this is the case, it can be useful to help them activate this prior knowledge before jumping into the new stuff. One way to do this is with this alphabet warmer.
In pairs, students write down the alphabet on a piece of paper and then have to think of a Halloween themed word for each letter. The team with the most words at the end of the allotted time is the winner. For example:
B = bat
C = candy
P = Pumpkin
T = Trick or treating
#13: Halloween Listening Comprehension Listening Exercise
Halloween Vocabulary for ESL
Wondering which words you should cover with your students for Halloween? Here are some of the most popular ones you should hit:
- Black cat
- Dress up
- Face paint
- Front door
- Full moon
- Haunted house
ESL Halloween Lessons, Lesson Plans and Worksheets
Do you want some ready-made lessons and worksheets for your Halloween lessons? Here are our favourite sources:
Have your Say about these Halloween Activities and Games for ESL
What’s your go-to ESL Halloween activity or game? Are you going to try out one of them from this list, or do you have another idea for ESL Halloween Games for Adults (or kids). Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.
Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy teachers, like yourself find this useful resource.
p.s. If you’re looking for some other holiday ideas, then you’ll want to check out the following options: