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Five Fun Word Association Games

Word Association Games

A word association game is a game in which a word is given to a student and then that student must say an associated word or phrase. Word association games are a fantastic way to help students practice using their existing vocabulary and to learn new English words.

While playing word association games, students are likely to encounter words that they have not heard before. These words are associated with the vocabulary they already know, and so it is very easy for students to guess the meanings of these new words. This makes word association games fantastic for learning new words.

Let’s look at some different ways in which you can play word association games with your students.

Simple Word Association

The simplest way to play word association games in class is to simply give one student a word and ask that student to say the first thing that comes to mind. For example, if you say the word “drink” a student might say the word “juice”. Then, the next student should say the first word which comes to their mind, for example, “orange”.

If you’re playing this game with kids, then to make it even more fun you could get them to pass a ball as they play. When a student has the ball it is their turn, and once they have said their word they should pass the ball to the next player.

However, if you are playing word association games while social distancing in the classroom, then it is probably best not to pass a ball around. Instead, you could ask your students to stand up from their desks when it is their turn.

Word Association Topics

Another fun way to play word association games in class is to choose a particular topic and ask students to say words associated with that topic. Usually, when playing word association games, students would start at one word, and after a few turns, the words might become completely unrelated to the original topic.

But when playing a word association game with a particular topic, all words must be related to the main topic. For example, if you choose the topic ‘food’ then every word must be a kind of food. If a student says ‘milk’ for example, then that student would be out as it is a drink and not a food.

Here are some topics you could use for your next word association game:

  • Types Of Food
  • Types Of Drinks
  • Countries
  • Hobbies
  • Sports
  • Superheroes
  • Colors
  • Furniture in a house
  • School Subjects
  • Types Of Weather

Guess The Secret Word

A really fun way to get your students thinking while playing a word association game is to have them try and guess a secret word. Rather than have students say any associated word that comes to mind, instead think of a secret word and tell them some words associated with that.

Then students should try to guess what the secret word is. To make it more fun you could even ask students to guess other words which might be associated to the secret word.

For example, if the secret word was ‘yellow’ you could say the word “banana” to your students. Then they might guess something like “apple” and you can tell them it is not related. But when they say something like “lemon” you can tell them that it is associated with it.

After some time students will be able to guess the secret word. This way of playing a word association game is a fantastic way to get students to practice their thinking skills while learning new vocabulary.

Ryhming Words

This way of playing word association games can lead to some hilarious answers. Simply give students a word and ask them to come up with a word which rhymes. In this game, the words don’t necessarily have to be related. They just need to rhyme.

For example, you might say the word “cold” and students might say “old”, “mold”, “bold”, “told”, etc. The first student who can’t come up with a rhyming word is out.

Chain Game

This last word association style game is one you have probably played at some point in your life. In this game a student would say one word and then the next student must say a word which starts with the last letter of the previous word.

For example, if the word was ‘pizza’ then the next student must say a word beginning with ‘a’. Then, the next student might say “apple” and so the next student must say a word beginning with ‘e’. And so, on. The first student who cannot say a word is out.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found some inspiration for your next word association game.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out our free lesson materials, including ESL Games, PowerPoint Games, ESL Worksheets, ESL PowerPoints, and ESL Printables.