Gesture Game


The Gesture Game, also known as Charades is a dynamic ESL classroom activity to review vocabulary, especially good for action verbs. This page will introduce the Gesture Game and how it can be used in ESL and language learning classes.

Materials Needed

  • Vocabulary Cards or Flashcards: Prepare a set of cards with words, phrases or pictures for the lesson's target language.  
  • Whiteboard or Chalkboard: Useful for displaying vocabulary and explaining the rules using pictures.


  1. Pre-teach the target vocabulary and any other phrases that the students will use.
  2. Create groups of 3 to 5 students. 

How to Play

  1. Take a card, look at it and demonstrate performing a gesture. Have the students guess the word. If you are teaching a certain sentence or question and answer pattern, include that too.
  2. In each group, designate one student as the "actor" for the first round. The other students will guess the word or phrase that the actor does the gestures for.
  3. The actor from each group draws a vocabulary card and silently acts out the word or phrase, using gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. They cannot use any words or make any sounds.
  4. The other students in the same group watch the actor's gestures and try to guess the word or phrase. They can work individually or in teams and discuss to arrive at an answer.
  5. When a student guesses the correct answer, the round finishes, and both the actor and the student or team who guessed the correct answer receive points.
  6. After the round ends, rotate the role of the actor to the next student within the same group. Continue with the next word or phrase. This process repeats until each student has had a chance to be the actor.


  • This game can be fun and competitive enough without needing to keep scores, but keeping score may help in some cases