ESL Feelings & Emotions Vocabulary: Games & Activities

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  • 0:04 Talking About Feelings
  • 0:44 Feelings Vocabulary
  • 1:48 Activities for…
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teaching your ESL students to talk about feelings and emotions is an important way to help them connect to others. This lesson reviews crucial vocabulary and offers some games and activities for practicing.

Talking About Feelings

If you work with ESL students (English as a Second Language students), then one of your primary mandates is to help them communicate well in English. There are many different categories of words that can help with this, but learning to talk about feelings and emotions is perhaps one of the most significant things that children can master in order to make themselves known and understood. After all, when you can describe a feeling or understand what someone else is feeling, you can solicit and grant empathy, express your inner self, and deal better with challenges the world presents. This lesson reviews some good vocabulary words for feelings and emotions and then offers games and activities for teaching students these words.

Feelings Vocabulary

This section looks at specific vocabulary words that can help students talk about feelings and emotions. Let's look at the basic names of feelings first.

  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Scared
  • Excited
  • Jealous
  • Sorry
  • Worried
  • Nervous
  • Calm
  • Content
  • Surprised
  • Furious
  • Silly
  • Embarrassed
  • Ashamed
  • Guilty
  • Regretful
  • Loving
  • Thrilled
  • Pleased

Now let's look at phrases involving talking and asking about feelings:

  • I feel / I am feeling…
  • It seems like you are feeling…
  • How do you feel about that?
  • That makes me feel...
  • I'm just a little...
  • I am very...

Now, finally, let's take a look at some adverbs used to augment feelings:

  • Very
  • Extremely
  • Slightly
  • Terribly
  • Embarrassingly
  • Passionately
  • Deeply

Activities for Feelings & Emotions

This section offers some activities and games that can help students put the above vocabulary lists to good use.

1. Feelings Bingo

For this game, you will need bingo cards set up in grids with 25 squares, with each square containing one of the 'feelings' words. Show pictures of people that look like they are experiencing particular emotions. If a student has one of the words on his or her card that might describe the emotion, he or she should cover it with a paper chip or clip. The first student to get five in a row wins the round.

Unlike many versions of bingo, this one might be contestable; one picture could represent anger as well as jealousy, for instance. As long as students can justify their interpretations, that's good enough.

2. Emotions Tag

This game is best played outside or in a gym, where students have plenty of room to maneuver. Choose one student to be 'it' and chase others around. When 'it' tags someone, that person should make a face or use body language to express a particular emotion.

'It' should try to guess what the tagged student is feeling. Whether or not the guess is accurate, the student should join hands with 'it', and they should chase other students together. The game continues until the majority of the class is part of 'it.'

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