Preposition of place has always been one of my favourite units to teach. The grammar and vocabulary are pretty simple and the students seem to enjoy practicing it. However, it can be a bit of a challenge to come up with fun, interesting ESL preposition games to spice things up a bit.
Not to worry, however, check out my list of the Top 10 Preposition ESL games and activities to get you started.
This is a classic, 4-skills ESL activity/game that is ideal for just about any level of student and almost any topic. The way it works is that you find a reading passage (or make your own) related to the topic of the day. In this case, it would have at least a few prepositions of place.
Then, you read the passage out more quickly than you normally would for the level of student. You want them to understand about 50% of what they heard. Then, students have to work together in pairs or small groups to piece the story together.
You can read it 1-2 more times and then have students compare their answers to the original. Check it out here: Dictogloss ESL Listening Activity.
#2 ESL Prepositions of Place Game: Memory Games
The topic of places is IDEAL for memory games. There are lots of different things you can do, but one of my favourites is to show students a simple city map. You know the kind I’m talking about: with square or rectangle buildings and a few different streets.
Have students study the map for a couple of minutes, and then take the picture off the screen. Ask them some questions and they can either answer as a class orally, or you can have students write down their answers. Ask them things like, “Where is the bakery?” or, “Is the movie theatre across the street from the bank?”
More ideas for this style of ESL game here: Memory Games for ESL Students.
#3: Is that Sentence Correct?
If you’re teaching prepositions to beginners, you may want to try out this quick grammar review activity. The way it works is that mix up a few sentences in terms of word order. Then, students have to unscramble the sentences to make grammatically correct ones.
If you want to challenge more advanced level students, include 1-2 mistakes in terms of spelling or subject-verb agreement. Then, have students fix the mistakes AND also unscramble the sentences.
Check it out here: Grammar Review ESL Game.
#4: Information Gap Activities
The way ESL information gap activities work is that there is a single set of information. Then, each pair or student gets that entire set of information, but each student gets only half of it. Then, they have to work together to uncover the entire information set.
Designed well, they can be an extremely rewarding, but challenging ESL activity and perhaps one of the most useful things you can do in class.
This kind of info gap activity lends itself extremely well to prepositions. For example, there might be a city map, but it’s uncertain where all the shops are in relation to each other.
More details here: ESL Information Gap Activities.
#5: Flashcard Sentences
This very simple ESL game is ideal for kindergarten, or other young children. You can hold up a card with either a word or picture (prepositions in this case) and the student has to make a correct sentence with that word. If correct, they get the card. If incorrect, it goes back into the pile.
Check it out here: ESL Flashcard Activities.
#6 Preposition Game ESL: Concentration
This is one of my favourite ESL memory games. It’s ideal for beginners who are learning about prepositions for the first time. Make some cards with words (in front of, behind, next to, across from, etc.) and then have a corresponding picture.
Students mix up the cards, and place them face-down in an organized fashion. Then, they choose two and if correct, keep the cards. If incorrect, they place them back down in the same spot and the next person goes.
Learn more about this fun game here: Concentration ESL Vocabulary Game.
#7: Picture Prompt
If you suspect that your students have already learned most of the preposition of place vocabulary words at some point during their English studies, you may want to use this for a quick lead-in to the unit. Put a picture on the screen of a city for example that lends itself to prepositions.
Then, have students talk with a partner about what they see. Mention that they should try to include prepositions that they may know.
If you have beginner students, you may want to save this activity until the end of the unit.
Find out more about it here: Picture Prompt ESL Warmer.
#8: Use Some Videos to Teach Preposition of Place
I’m ALL about using videos in my ESL classroom. They’re a fun way to introduce a unit, or to round one out. There are a million and one things you can do with them. If you take a look at English Central, or YouTube, you’ll find a ton that deal with prepositions.
Of course, you should include some activities along with them to make the most out of your valuable class time. Learn more here: Videos for the ESL Classroom.
#9 Preposition ESL Game: Board Games
Did you know that it’s really easy to make your own board games for your EFL students? Once you get the hang of it, it takes only a few minutes.
In this case, you’d want to make one related to your school. On the board, you could include questions like the following:
- Where is the gym?
- Is the cafeteria next to the principal’s office?
- Where is the bathroom on this floor?
Find out more about this activity here: ESL Board Games.
#10: Journaling about Prepositions of Place
If I teach writing, I’m ALL about having my students do journalling. I either have a few minutes at the beginning, or end of class. Or, I assign it for homework.
If you want your students to brush up on prepositions of place, assign the topic, “Around your neighbourhood.”
More details here: Journaling for ESL Students.
What about Preposition of Place ESL Games Online?
If you’re looking for some sources of online practice related to prepositions, there are a number of sites that we recommend. Some of our favourite online practice exercises include the following:
Have your Say about Preposition of Place Games for ESL Students
What are your thoughts about these ESL preposition class games? Leave a comment below and let us know if you have any recommendations, or if you’ve tried any of these out with your students.
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