For more ESL games and activities, click here.

Target Bingo

Target bingo is one activity that can help young learners to improve their listening skills. In this version of bingo, students take turns to call out the words by throwing a ball at the words on the board. As students see the written form and also hear the spoken form from the teacher, it can help them to associate the two. Students often enjoy any opportunity to throw a ball in class, so this satiates children’s need to do this. Of course, you should ensure that there is nothing that is likely to get broken through this game.

how to improve listening skills
If you're wondering how to improve listening skills, target bingo may be the answer.


1: Divide the class into two or more teams. Alternatively, students can play as individuals if there are only a few students in the group.

2: Draw a target on the board similar to the one above. Write 20 or so previously taught vocabulary items on the target.

3: Give each team a piece of paper and tell them to write 12 words from the target on their paper.

4: Give one team a ball or a scrunched piece of paper. One of the students should throw the ball or paper at the target. Whichever word is hit by the ball or paper is the word that is called, and therefore teams should cross it off.

5: Give the ball or paper to a new team to repeat step four.

6: Once a team have crossed off all of their words, they should raise their hands and shout bingo (or another agreed word).


1: Instead of choosing the words, you could elicit words from students that they wish to study. Involving students in decisions about their learning encourages learner autonomy.

2: With young learners or low levels, pictures could be prepared. These could either be stuck to the target while students write the written word, or students could be given smaller pictures while the words are written on the board.

3: This game can be made more lexical by focusing on chunks or collocations, rather than individual words. You could also use two separate targets and have students throw twice to try and hit a two word combo e.g. “completely / destroyed” or “a little / tired”.

4: Large classes could be split to have multiple games going on. In this case, you may want to pick a student in each game to take the role of the teacher, ensuring that turns are followed and adjudicating any disputes about the word that the ball hit.

Follow on:

This activity is really aimed at helping students to better recognise the vocabulary used when they hear it. It would therefore be advisable to follow on from this with an opportunity to produce this vocabulary. This could be a simple controlled practice requiring students to ask and answer questions, or a more imaginative freer practice activity.

Example Language:

Numbers (e.g. 1, 25, 136)

Numbers with measurements (e.g. 12 feet, 365 days, 2.4 million light years)

Lexical sets (e.g. fruit, things in the classroom, animals)

Words from a text

Collocations or lexical chunks

Vocabulary suggested by students

photo credit: Alan O’Rourke Target Bullseye via photopin (license)

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