In one of my previous posts, The Best Ways For Advanced ELL’s & Non-ELL’s To Create Online Content Easily & Quickly (For Their Classmates & Teacher To See), I shared our situation of being able to have our mainstream ninth-grade students do our assignments in their computer class.

As part of my reflecting on that time, I’ve been identifying new resources and assignments for our class blog. Even though we’ve regularly placed online games on the blog specifically related to the units we’re studying, I thought it might also be useful to add some other games students can play if they just have a few minutes left before their class ends.

I wanted to identify games that would be engaging, provide some challenge, and contribute to enhancing their reading skills. There are tons of word games out there, but most don’t appear to help advanced learners gain an understanding of them in context. I also wanted to only have games that wouldn’t easily lead to other ones that would be enticing to students, but not particularly educational.

I was only able to identify a few that met that criteria, and hope that readers can make additional suggestions.

Here are my choices for The Best Learning Games For Advanced ELL’s & Non-ELL’s:

Headline Clues from Michigan State University is a great activity. In the game, you’re shown the lead paragraph, but letters from two words in the headline are missing. Players have to use clues in the first paragraph to identify what the missing words should be. As you play the online version, you can ask for clues. One of the great things about using this game is that students can create their own with pen and paper and have classmates try to figure out the answers, as well as giving them clues if needed.

Wordmaster is from the BBC. In it, you’re shown a sentence with a word missing (indicated by a blank). Then you have to click on an on-screen keyboard to type the correct word “hangman” style. You can ask for clues, and you’re competing against the clock. You can also choose various levels of difficulty, and the game has thousands of words. And after you’ve either guessed the correct word or the timer is up, you can have the sentence read to you.

Free Rice is the “granddaddy” of “cause-related” games. If you choose the correct definition of the word, the next word you’re given is “harder.” If you answer incorrectly, the next word is supposed to be “easier.” In addition, for every word you get correct, ten grains of rice are donated to an international aid agency. A year-and-a-half ago, the BBC published a story quoting United Nations’ officials as saying the game has generated enough funds to feed 50,000 for a day at that time. Free Rice recently expanded its game and now has questions related to grammar, geography, art, foreign language and math, too (Yes, I know, this doesn’t teach the words in context, but because they have questions in all the categories, it’s so fun, and it’s for a good cause, are all reasons why I added it to this list. is a new free site from the creators of the “Visual Thesaurus.” It’s a vocabulary game that has lots of bells and whistles, including the ability to evaluate how you’re doing and use that information to determine the difficulty of future questions. You have register first (it’s a pretty painless process) before you can use the site.

Feedback is welcome.

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