Reinventing Bingo to Get Students to Use English Outside the Classroom


Here’s a late night brainstorm. I was thinking of a discussion thread on one of the TESOL e-lists I subscribe to. A few of us were recommending ways to motivate students to use English outside the classroom. I liked another member’s idea of seeking out opportunities to serve as a volunteer interpreter, for example, at an airport for international travelers. I had mentioned the idea of peer tutoring, and I noted that students need to be taught to identify learning opportunities, such as those present when telemarketers call. All of this got me thinking about how we might remind students of ways they can practice their language skills and motivate them to do so.

Students may respond positively to a periodic game of “How I Use English” Bingo.  Imagine a group of three or four students working with one Bingo card (you can make a 3×3 or 4×4 grid as an alternative to the traditional 5×5 grid).  Each box on the bingo card will have a recommended way to use English outside the classroom. One or two boxes can be open-ended and simply titled “Other?” The group must discuss how they used English outside the classroom within the past 48-hours. If at least one member performed the action listed in a box, the group can cross it off. A group wins if a row or column is crossed off. If there is more than one group with “bingo,” the group with the most boxes crossed off wins.

The idea is to hear about how others in the class are using English and possibly to discover new ways to do so. Possible items:

  • Help someone in English (a lost pedestrian, a confused classmate, etc.)
  • Watch a movie in English (from beginning to end).
  • Watch a TV show in English (from beginning to end).
  • Do homework and/ or review course material.
  • Listen to music with English lyrics.
  • Write an e-mail message in English.
  • Post an online comment in English.
  • Make a phone call in English.
  • Read (part of) a book in English.
  • Read a magazine article in English (from beginning to end).
  • Follow printed instructions in English (recipe, furniture assembly, etc.)


Useful link: Make your own Bingo card.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. nliakos says:

    I love this idea! I hope to try it out in the coming fall semester.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      I’d love to know how it works out. 🙂

  2. Clora Gamba says:

    Excellent site i will come back definitely. Nice article.

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