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Wheel of Fortune

Wheel of Fortune was originally an American TV game show first aired in 1975. The show has proven to be incredibly popular with over 7,000 episodes filmed to date and more than 60 international adaptations being made.

The game is itself a variation of hangman but adds a wheel that creates a scoring system. The game is then played over multiple rounds. It is very easy to adapt this game for the language classroom using dice, a spinner or even a random number generator.

A wide variety of language can be used in this game, including idioms, common phrases, and film or book titles. In addition to revising these phrases, it also helps students to pay attention to small, grammatical words (such as articles) and correct spelling. 

review game ideas
TV game shows often make good review game ideas.


1: Divide the class into two or more teams. Three is ideal to keep the pace reasonably quick. However, if students are used to the game and tend to play quickly, four or five teams could be used.

2: Think of a word or phrase and write underscore lines on the board as you would in hangman. For example “how are you?” would be _ _ _ / _ _ _ / _ _ _ ?

3: One team starts by rolling the two dice. They then guess a letter. Students score the total of the two dice multiplied by the number of times their guessed letter appears. Therefore a roll of seven would score seven if they guessed “h”, fourteen if they guessed “o” and nothing if they guessed “b” (if you are using “how are you?”

4: Repeat step three with each team guessing a new letter. The team with the most points after all the letters have been guessed are the winner. You could then have a new round with a different word or phrase.


Online: This game can be played online by using a virtual dice website (such as the one below), or a random number generator. For the sake of trust, students should be able to see the dice being rolled.

1: You can give students a chance to solve the whole phrase to get a set number of points. Allow students to use their turn to solve, but if they are wrong pass the turn to the next team.

2: Instead of dice you could create a spinner, or random number generator.

3: Some numbers can be given special significance in the game. For example two could result in a team missing their turn, while twelve could result in them losing all their points. Another number could allow students to steal from the other teams, or even to have a free guess (without points) or another go (with points).

4: You could make the arithmetic less (or more) difficult by including more die or with differing numbers of sides.

5: Alternatively you can keep the scoring simpler by using a table and assigning round numbers to the different possibilities. For example:

Number Value
Steal points
Free letter
4, 5
6, 7
8, 9
10, 11

Example Language:

Taught vocabulary/phrases

Idioms or fixed expressions (e.g. beat around the bush, hit rock bottom)

Names of books or movies (e.g. a farewell to arms, crime and punishment)

Newspaper headlines

Phrases or expressions from stories

Combinations e.g. book and author, song and singer, team and sportsperson, film and actor

Famous quotes (e.g. the best way to predict the future is to create it – Abraham Lincoln)

photo credit: pds319 Wheel of Fortune via photopin (license)

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