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Tic-Tac-Irregular
Ian Kime
February 26, 2021

Tic-Tac-Irregular

Do you have a stack of copies of the irregular verbs list in English somewhere in your cubby? Who doesn’t… It’s useful for nearly every level of English student, even those advanced students who have forgotten some of the easy stuff.

This resource plays on that idea but offers you a much more fun way to review. Oh, and it’s made for the online classroom! It’s simple enough, but read our instructions anyway 🙂

First, download the file which includes a PDF (if ever you would like to use it in your in-person lessons) and a JPG (for screen sharing):

esl-irregular-verbs-esl-expertz

The game is based on the likes of tic-tac-toe, connect 4, X’s and O’s, crosses and oughts, or (which I just recently learned) an m,n,k game. Apparently “m,n,k” is the technical mathematical nomenclature. Google it.

Simple Variant

The game has 100 different irregular verbs in boxes of various colors. The colors represent levels of usage in the English language. The center box contains the most used irregular verbs and they become scarcer as you go out towards the edge.

Students take turns choosing a verb and then giving its three forms: infinitive, past simple, past participle (otherwise known as 1rst, 2nd, and 3rd form). They can do this out loud, but I would recommend you have them also type their responses in the chat. If the student is correct, draw a colored ellipse on the box. Each student gets their own color.

A box with an ellipse cannot be repeated. The winner is the student who can put 4 of their colored ellipses in a row (horizontal, diagonal, or vertical). If you have a group of 3, 4, or more, you can even play simply to 3!

It’s a silly game, but you won’t believe how competitive your students can be or how much fun they’re going to have. The PDF also doubles as a useful reference for irregular verbs. Its originality comes from its organization. No more alphabetical order! Here, your students have a visual representation of their utility.

Other variants and ideas

  • Add a time limit! Can’t figure it out in time? Lose your turn.
  • Create a sentence! Students must say or write a grammatically correct sentence using this verb.
  • Add a constraint! Add a constraint of your choosing, for example, use an adjective, use an adverb, talk about the future, talk about the past, talk about a routine, ask a question, etc when giving a sentence.
  • Themes! Add a themed constraint to practice the current lexical field of your course.
  • Charades! You can play individually or in pairs. Without saying it out loud, one student chooses a box and mimes it. The others, or their partner, guesses which verb they are miming. The first one to correctly guess can put their colored ellipse on that box.
  • I’m sure there are more but that’s all I’ve got for today.

Do you have another clever idea? Let us know in the comments.

Ian Kime

Ian Kime

I have been teaching English abroad since receiving my CELTA certificate in Poland in 2018. I enjoy tracking my individual students’ development but love having lessons with big groups! Now that I teach online, I am accompanied by my sidekicks Olaf, Mała, Pirate and Bandit on a regular basis.

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  1. English with my kids, week 5 - ESL Expertz - […] we use a simplified version of Tic-Tac-Irregular. If you don’t know this easy ESL game, you need to check…

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