February 15

Games for adult learners – Word Ladders

Word Ladders are fun for any age and they’re easy to play with minimal preparation from the teacher.  On the board, draw two ‘ladders’ with an equal number of rungs on each.  Divide the class into two teams and set them playing.   If you have a large group and enough space on the board, you could draw more ladders.  I always say that learners can help their teammates and keep an eye on the game so you can rub words off if they’re spelt incorrectly or if the other team has already written it first.  Here are some ideas of variations on the game, which you can combine to make the game more challenging:

Going up

In one of the simplest versions of the game, learners start with a word with three letters at the bottom, then on the next rung write a word with four, then five, and so on until they reach the top of their ladder.

Going up with a topic

To add a bit of challenge, you could give the learners a specific topic for the ladder; for example, if the topic was adjectives, they might write fat – thin – happy – strong – serious – exciting – fantastic.  Or for animals, it could be cat – frog – snake – rabbit – leopard – elephant – crocodile.

Last letter, first

In this version, as learners move up the ladder, the word must start with the last letter of the word on the rung below – this gets trickier when combined with Going up.  So you may end up with cat – take – eaten – notice – easiest – terrible – everybody (lots of es in that round!).  And even more so if you add in a topic! 




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Posted February 15, 2016 by Teresa Bestwick in category Just for fun

3 thoughts on “Games for adult learners – Word Ladders

  1. Naomi Epstein

    I had a great time in class with this today! So good that I had to tell everyone about it while thanking YOU!
    Just what I needed today.

    1. Teresa Bestwick (Post author)

      Hi Naomi,
      So glad you enjoyed word ladders – I can take absolutely no credit for the idea though…one my colleagues introduced me to the game years ago. I really enjoyed your blogpost about your experience with the activity too and I like the idea of it being a race against the clock rather than against each other.
      T 🙂


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