Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Online Learning Games — 2009


I’m going to be listing my choices for The Best Online Learning Games — 2009 within this post, starting from the eleventh-ranked one and ending with my number-one choice. You’ll find a poll at the end, though the games are listed in the opposite order in the poll.  I’m asking that people vote for no more than three of the listed games.

Voting will end on December 1st. I thought it would be interesting to see how reader’s choices compare to my own. And, in fact, I’m going to be having my students vote on them as well, and would encourage you to do the same if you think it would be a productive educational activity.

People will be blocked (or, at least, are supposed to be blocked) from voting more than once. I’m asking that people vote for three games or less.

You can find links to these games, and thousands more on my website.

In order to make it on this list, games had to:

* be accessible to English Language Learners.

* provide exceptionally engaging content.

* not provide access to other non-educational games on their site, though there is one on this list that doesn’t quite meet this particular criteria.

* be seen by me during 2009. So they might have been around prior to this time, but I’m still counting them in this year’s list.

You might also be interested in my other “The Best…” lists related to games:

The Best online Learning Games– 2007
The Best Online Video Games For Learning Language & Content Knowledge
The Best “Fun” Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too
The Best Websites For Creating Online Learning Games
The Best Online Learning Games — 2008
The Best Sites For Making Crossword Puzzles & Hangman Games
The Best Fun Sites You Can Use For Learning, Too — 2008
The Best Online Games Students Can Play In Private Virtual “Rooms”
The Best “Cause-Related” Online Learning Games
The Best “I Spy” (Hidden Object) Games For Vocabulary Development
The Best Collections Of Online Educational Games
The Best Places To Read & Write “Choose Your Own Adventure” Stories
The Best Places To Find Online Video Games For Language-Learning

Here are my choices for The Best Online Learning Games — 2009:

Number eleven is: The Race Against Global Poverty is a virtual board game. You advance if you answer the questions about…global poverty correctly.  Some are specifically British-related, but most will be fine for students anywhere.

Number ten is: Rain Words is a fascinating twist on a crossword puzzle. It’s hard for me to explain, but, basically, images of objects fall from the top and then the player has to move them to any number of places on the puzzle that have the correct number of places.

Number nine is: Tales Of Twentieth Century London lets the user play the role of a child in….twentieth century London. It’s sort of a “choose your own adventure” interactive, and is quite engaging and well-designed, not to mention accessible to English Language Learners.

Number eight is: Don’t Gross Out The World is a game that challenges you to answer questions about dining customs in different parts of the world.

Number seven is: The History Channel has a neat series of timeline puzzles related to its Life After People television series. In the game, you have to put images from the series in the correct timeline order – what happens when – after humanity disappears from the planet. Each image also has a short and relatively accessible (to high Intermediate English Language Learners) explanation of it.

Number six is: Scholastic has a good environmental game called Virtual Forest Challenge. It’s very accessible to English Language Learners.  In the game, you are a virtual character going through a typical day. You regularly are faced with having to make choices between decisions that are ecologically helpful and ones that are not – you have to make the call.

Number five is: Mia Cadaver’s Tombstone Timeout is a BBC game that asks questions related to Math, Science and English, and you can choose which subject you want to use.  The Math and Science sections are divided into levels of difficulty.  That makes it more accessible to a larger number of students.   In “Mia Cadaver”  you can create a private “virtual room” where only your students compete against each other.  Everybody just types in the name you’ve given the room, and the questions begin.  After each question is answered the screen shows the overall ranking of everybody in the room.  Students love it!

Number four is:  In the Frontier Alaska game, you having a very hard time in a dog sled. It’s a “choose your own adventure” activity where you are regularly giving challenging scenarios and then have options on how to proceed.  It’s from the Discovery Channel and is very similar to their “Life or Death” games. They’re all very engaging and accessible to Early Intermediate English Language Learners. My students love playing them, and they’re great reading opportunities.

Number three is: National Geographic has put together a pretty sophisticated “I Spy” kind of game called Herod’s Lost Tomb Game. It combines archeology, geography, and vocabulary development – a great mix for English Language Learners.  They also have a n interactive map showing images, and their ruins, of structures built during that time.

Number two is: Audio Puzzler is a listening game where hear sections of a video, then have to type out correctly what you hear, and then put them in order.  It’s a pretty cool activity, and would be great for high Intermediate or Advanced English Language Learners.

And, now, the number one Online Learning Game for 2009 is…

Get The Pic? Sure! is a new online game that would be accessible, though a bit challenging, to Intermediate English Language Learners To play “Get The Pic? Sure!,” you first pick three letters. Those letters then appear, along with blanks showing missing letters for that word. You can “buy” (with “play” money) guesses for those letters, and also get a clue showing a sentence that uses that word. If you don’t guess the word in the allotted time, you lose that round and the answer appears. And then it starts all over again…

Below you’ll see the poll. Remember, people can only vote once, and I’m asking that you vote for no more than three of them.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Its a great article.
    I have read article from bottom to top.
    I like audio puzzler. Its a great game improves listening ability and English language.

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  3. I enjoyed your list

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  5. My all time favorite was Oregon Trail. Sure wish it could be tweaked for the web and made available to learners everywhere….FREE!

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