ESL Crossword Puzzles and How to Make Them

ESL crosswords

Crossword puzzles are really great for introducing a new theme or grammar point, you can give them out as a warmer while you’re waiting for all the class to arrive, or they make a  handy homework or vocabulary review task. Note: not every student will be familiar with crossword puzzles, so make sure to explain it first as well as the meaning of down and across.

Printable ESL Crossword Puzzles

PuzzleFast Crossword Maker

I like to use the online crossword maker PuzzleFast because it is relatively easy to use and produces a good puzzle.

Select the radio button Crossword. Enter a title in the title box and in the clues textbox make a colon-separated list of answers followed by their clues. It’s best to aim for a list of at least 15 or 16 items. It’s possible that not every word will be included in the finished crossword.

  • ate:the past form of eat
  • dug:the past form of dig
  • hat:something you put on your head

Give the crossword a title, and press the make my puzzle button

You will now be taken to a printable page containing your crossword. If you’re not satisfied with the result, hit the remake button and the puzzle will be regenerated.


Sometimes the site doesn’t manage to generate a puzzle that uses all the clues. Try and include at least one longish word among the answers, this will increase the quality of the final puzzle.

Like most of the free crossword makers, it’s not possible to download the puzzle as a PDF, however you can produce a PDF with the following procedure.

  • click on the printer item above the puzzle
  • select the Change Printer button on the print options menu.
  • select Save As PDF

Teaching Online

Crossword Labs has a very nice crossword generator which allows you to create crosswords which can be completed online. This is a nice collaborative task with one person responsible for entering the answers. Or you could assign them as a homework task.

Here’s an example of a past simple crossword.

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