What’s Worked for Me in the Classroom

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I teach for three more days and then have three days off before leaving Quinhon forever.  The three months I’ve spent here have been surreal, sort of like a learn-about-yourself-bootcamp. I have to say, I’m pretty goddamn proud of myself for making it through, since it hasn’t been easy.  The hardest part about the expat life here is the communication and culture barrier. However, the time I’ve spent trying to understand these barriers, while difficult, has also been the best part about living here, hands down.  Should be interesting to integrate these new perspectives into life back in the USA in only 22 days!

Another bright part of my time here in Quinhon has been teaching. My happiest moments here have been in front of the classroom. I’m no expert teacher, but I figured I’d write a post about some teaching tips and tricks that have helped me, because more often than not you won’t get any training in Vietnam before your first class, haha.

If you’re going to be teaching in Vietnam (or somewhere like it), games are what it’s all about. You’ve got to be really entertaining and friendly. They don’t want someone who’s serious. They want someone fun!!! Here are some games that have worked for me.



  1. Whisper
    1. You have the students line up in a row and you whisper a word in a person’s ear at one end of the line. He or she whispers it to the person next to him or her, and so on, until the person at the other end writes the word on the board. This game is particularly fun with words that sound alike, like boat, booth, boot, both, bought, white, wise, wait, world, word,  he’s, his, eat, it, cut, cat, etc. 
  2. Word-Within-Word 
    1. Take a long word like “redistribution” and get your students to find the words inside the word. For example, inside “redistribution” we have “red,” “is,” I,” but,” etc. Make it a competition!
  3. Categories
    1. Write a category on the board like “ANIMALS,” and have students compete over who can write the most words related to that category. Only correct spellings count!!
  4. Unscramble
    1. Write a scrambled word on the board and see who can unscramble it fastest.
  5. End-of-Word 
    1. Divide class into two teams. Give each time a starting word like “cat” and “dog.” Then, the students come up with words that begin with the last letter of the previous word. For example, if Team 1 has “cat,” the first person would right a word starting with “t” such as “tree.” Fun with lower level classes.
  6. How do you spell it?
    1. Pretty simple, but students seem to love it. Say a word that seems like it should be really easy to spell and ask if they can write it correctly. Works really well with “it” vs “eat,” “mat” vs “math,” etc.  Makes students laugh, and realize what they need to work on.
  7. Story
    1. Have students compose a story by having each one write one line of the story on the board. Start of the first sentence with something compelling, like “Last night I dreamed that I saw Taylor Swift.” Only for advanced classes.
  8. Never-Have-I-Ever
    1. Really fun with adults. You put up five fingers and one-by-one you say something you’ve never done. If a person in the group has done it, they put their finger down. For example, if I say “Never have I ever broken a bone,” and you have, you put your finger down.
  9. Fill-in-the-blanks with a Song
    1. Find a song on Youtube that isn’t too fast.  Find the lyrics and delete some of the words. Print out the altered lyrics and hand them to your students and see if they can fill in the blank. Students seem to like more modern songs with fun music videos.



  1. The Clap Your Hands Game
    1. Read a list of the students vocabulary words and have them clap their hands when they hear the “m,” “p,” “s,” etc sound.
  2. The Walking Around Doing Things Game
    1. Pretty simple, haha. Have students walk in a circle and give them various commands like “stop,” “sit,” and “take a nap.”
  3. The Slap Game
    1. Put two flashcards on a table and have students smack the one who’s name you call out. Kids love smacking, so they love this game.
  4. Paddycake
    1. If you’ve got advanced students, you can teach them how to play the hand game “Paddycake.” This has only worked well with really advanced kids, 8+ years of age.
  5. Scary Music Videos
    1. Not a game, but seriously, kids love scary music videos like “Never Smile at a Crocodile,” and anything from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 


So, that’s the extent of my knowledge on games for EFL classrooms. Students in Vietnam are pretty chill, so it’s okay to kind of wing it sometimes. I’ve had a lot of fun with the students here, and although I’m stoked to go home, I’m sad to leave behind so many great people.

Peace, it’s been real.




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