ESL Jeopardy: How to play this staple of the TEFL classroom

ESL Jeopardy is a version of the popular board game. It’s a fun and easy to play quiz game, and it’s great for reviewing vocabulary and certain grammar forms. It ranks alongside Taboo as one of the most played games in the TEFL classroom. It’s a great way to round off the week or to save for the last day of the course.

You will need five separate categories of questions and for each category five or six questions ranging in difficulty from easy ($100) to difficult ($600).

First, draw the Jeopardy grid on the board as in the above diagram. Write the categories horizontally and long the top divide the columns into increments of one hundred of the local currency up to either five or six hundred depending on how many questions / how long you have.

See below, for several sets of pre-written Jeopardy questions which you can use to play this game. If you are using writing your own questions you could use question categories such as American or British English, false friends, missing prepositions, anglophone capitals, spelling, languages, nationalities, idioms, name three, trivia, things which are yellow, etc.

Split students into teams of three or four, with two or three teams being optimal. If you have different colour board markers or chalk, give each team a separate colour. If that’s not possible, assign each team their own symbol instead, e.g. circles, Xs, or triangles.

The first team starts and chooses a category and an amount, depending on how confident they are in being able to answer the question. Read out the question. If the team answers correctly then put a tick in the appropriate grid square with that team’s colour, or alternatively mark the square with their symbol.

If the team answers incorrectly, the square stays open and another team or the same team can attempt to answer it in a later round. Write a one or two-word reminder of the question or maybe a drawing in the space to help students keep track of the open questions. Now, move on to the next team who can either choose a new question and amount or attempt to answer a question which was previously incorrectly answered.

You can bring the game to a close after a set amount of rounds or when there are no questions left, then add up the total cash won by each team and announce the winning team.

Don’t forget to go through any still open questions that couldn’t be answered.

Playing Jeopardy Online

If you are teaching online, there are several websites and apps which allow you to create your own interactive Jeopardy games. For example Jeopardy Labs and Factile.

ESL Jeopardy questions

As well as these question sets, you can also use pictures (such as those in Picture Taboo) as a what is it? or what is it used for category? You can also use sounds from a Guess the sound quiz as an additional audio what is it? category.

In the event of two or more teams finishing with the same amount of points, use a tiebreaker to decide the final winner, whichever team get’s closest to the correct answer is the winner. For example:


  • How many countries are there in the EU? (27)
  • How many rooms does Buckingham Palace have? (775)
  • In years, what is the age difference between George and Amal Clooney? (17)
  • How many episodes of Friends were made? (236)
  • What’s the current value of bitcoin?

4 thoughts on “ESL Jeopardy: How to play this staple of the TEFL classroom

  1. This is great! I have been planning on playing Jeopardy with my students at the end of the term, but couldn’t get a projector. I had to put the game on hold for a later class, but this gives me a way to play it.

  2. I am looking forward to using this game. Thank you so much for this practical way to play the game with just my white board and teacher’s notes.

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