5 word formation games for FCE and CAE students

In this post, I am presenting 5 games that help students recognize and form different parts of speech. They are especially useful for students preparing for Cambridge exams (First and Advanced). I have been using these activities to revise and practice vocabulary and to offer some alternatives to typical Use of English exercises.

Note: Even though these games serve mainly for revision purposes, I try to include some follow-up activities where the target words from each game are used in context (using the words in sentences, creating a dialogue, asking questions containing the target words, exam-type exercises, etc.)

#1 Word Formation Maze

The maze is perfect for revising suffixes and prefixes. Students try to exit the maze looking for words governed by the same word formation rule. In the maze below the task is to find the right path choosing adjectives whose opposites start with the prefix in-. My other favourite option is looking for nouns that end with -ence (as opposed to -ance).

Word Formation Maze_student

Word Formation Maze_key

#2 Building Blocks

I got the idea for this activity after stumbling upon this one. Prepare two sets of word card: chosen prefixes/suffixes and words that go with them to create new ones. Students select one card from the Words pile and try to match it with the appropriate prefix /suffix to make a new word, note the new word down, put the Words card aside, and continue until they have no Words cards left. They can play individually/in pairs against the clock or against each other to make as many correct words as possible.

The set below aims at revising noun suffixes -ment, -tion, and -sion.

Building Blocks

#3 Reversed Taboo

The game is based on the premise that students need to come up with the target word having some context and the word from which the target one is formed, much like in the actual exam exercise.

Students play in pairs or groups. One student draws a card and needs to describe the word in CAPITALS using the word written below (unlike in a taboo game, where these are the forbidden words).


Target word: ADMIRATION

Explanation: You feel this when you admire someone, like a musician or a politician.

Variation for stronger students: they need to come up with the “reversed taboo” word on their own.

Reversed Taboo

#4 Parts of Speech Bingo

Oldie but goodie. Select words you would like your students to revise and prepare your bingo cards. Mine are based on vocabulary from Advanced Practice Tests Plus 2. 

Variation 1: Word Recognition

Call out names of parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), students cross out one word at a time (even if they have several nouns on their bingo card).

Variation 2: Gap filling

Read out a sentence with a gap. Students who have the fitting word say it out loud and cross it out.

Parts of Speech Bingo

#5 Pass the Ball

I used to play a similar game with my 8-year-olds: kids sit in a circle and pass the ball around saying words from a given category (e.g. animals). I adapted it for the needs of my teenage students and it was an instant hit.

Students stand/sit in a circle, you (or any other student) select a category (word building suffix or prefix), students pass the ball around saying the words without repeating them and you monitor whether they are correct. The first person to say the wrong word/not say anything at all is eliminated (leaves the circle). The game goes on until there are two players left. Change suffixes/prefixes for each new round.

I have seen an equally dynamic game on Anna’s blog and I am looking forward to giving it a try soon.

For more word formation activities, take a look here, here, here, and here.

If you know any other fun word formation games or activities, please share your ideas in the comments. Thanks!



  1. Great maze game. Really enjoy your blog. Have recommended it to other teachers. Thanks

    • Hi Fiona, great to hear that! I’ve been a fan of pronunciation mazes and now I’ve been trying to adapt them to other language areas. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Gosia,
    Thanks very much. I´m constantly in search for something like this. I love word formation games and activities, and just absolutely loved the first one. I´m gonna use it tomorrow with my INtermediate students.
    Have a fantastic day!

  3. Such a cool maze, thank you! Unfortunately, there is a typo in the maze – in “accessible”, one -s- is missing.

  4. great game ideas! I have tried the pass the ball with categories, such as adjectives related to emotions, or words related to the environment. it works pretty well! I’m definitely going to try reverse taboo and building blocks. thank you for sharing!

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