Teach English with TV Shows


Teach English with TV shows

In some cultures fun may be one of the most essential elements in an ESOL class. Some game shows may help us bring it to the lesson. It is all about adaptation! They can be used as warmers, controlled practices, or even productions. 

This article will provide ESOL teachers with some ideas of how to teach English with TV  shows in class in order to boost your learners’ experience and production in class.


Who wants to be a millionaire

The TV show was created in the United Kingdom, and then exported to many other countries. Contestants are required to answer a number of questions in order to step by step achieve is 1,000,000 dollar prize.

In case you are not acquainted with the game, watch the following snippet from 2’53” up to 3’49’’.

The teacher can come up with questions using the language they have been dealing with (e.g. lexis, structure) and have students answer them as per the Millionaire game. They may be sorted in groups in order to boost their confidence.

The questions are supposed to get more difficult as the prize gets higher,

Lifelines – At any point, students may use their two “lifelines”. These are:

  • 50:50 – two of the three incorrect answers are removed.
  • Google – the contestants may use Google for a minute.

Each lifeline may only be used once during a group’s entire game.



Just a Minute

In this British TV show, participants have to talk about one subject for one minute without:

  • repetition.
  • hesitation.
  • deviation.

The teacher can choose words the students have been exposed to lately or even functions or grammar features. The game  may help students use and develop speaking skills;  the idea of a competition usually encourages students to produce language.

If you have never seen this Tv show, watch the following snippet from the beginning up to 2’08”.



Million Dollar Password

The American TV show ‘password’ is about figuring out a secret word by receiving one-word clues by a partner. Some words might be considered illegal clues, i.e. two or more words, a hyphenated word, “coined” words, or any part or form of the password.

If you are not familiar with this game, watch the following video from 2’35” up to 5’17”.

To help students gain confidence, the game can be played with more than one person finding out the password and more than one person providing clues. Teacher may use the target language of the lesson, e.g. lexis related to school subjects, parts of the body, etc.




In this American game show, contestants have to come up with questions for the answers that are up on a panel. Each answer on the panel has a category and a prize. The more difficult the answer, the more points it is worth.

This is a way of having students have fun when working on form. Students practice interrogative, afirmative, and negative forms in a practical and enjoyable way. If students are working on the simple past, for example, different answers with different verbs are strongly recommendable.

Watch this video from 1’40” until 2’43”, if you want to get to know better how the game goes. In the video, contestants are much faster than what should be expected from students performing it while using English as a second or foreign language.



Wheel of Fortune


This is pretty similar to the Hangman game: competitors have to discover the word(s) or sentence by calling out letters they believe it may have.

The main difference would be that for each correct letter a prize is awarded  according to the wheel of fortune.

If you have never watched it and want to check out how it works, take a look at the following snippet from 3’57” up to 7′.

The game can be very useful when studying or revisiting the ABC in more elementary levels. When in more advanced levels the game can be used to practice other target language, such as lexis or structure.


Have you ever considered using some of the shows you have seen on Tv in your lesson? Have you done it yet? How has that been? Drop us a line and share your experiences!

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