Posted in: Teacher Resources Forum

For grammar or vocab practise, any level.  1-1 tutoring, tutor can play with the S.


T prepared list of questions, or a dice with grammar cues.


T briefly revises the grammar point to be practised, with the Ss.

Draw a 4x4 grid on the board, mark the rows A-D and the columns 1-4.

Explain how to choose a square, practise – A1= square at the top left corner

Explain the goal is for a team to win one line – horizontal, vertical or diagonal.

T chooses three squares (and keeps the squares a secret!) 

– two where the player is swallowed by the earthquake (lose their square)

– one where the player is rescued from the rubble, and the team gets the square free

Explain idea of ‘earthquake’ squares to the Ss!

Divide the class into two teams.  Choose a colour or mark for each team, to mark winning squares.

How to play:


  1. The first player/team chooses their square, the T asks the question and the student answers, or roles the dice and the player makes a sentence.  (this can be individual or teamwork).  Ss can either say the sentence, or write it on the board.  If the sentence is correct the team wins the square.
  2. The other team listens and challenges if the sentence is not correct.  If they can correct the sentence, they can score the square.
  3. If a player chooses an ‘earthquake’ square, they celebrate the victory or bear the consequences!
  4. First team to win a line, wins!
16 Comments for : Earthquake
    • Linda Drage
    • January 4, 2017

    This game would be suitable for the completion of a lesson before they go to a break, nice way to finish off on a positive and fun way. Possibly best suited to a smallish class of perhaps 8 to 10 students so the the teams are not too big, that way that all get too participate. The game does promote three of the essential language skills of, listening, speaking and some writing. I think it is a game that once the rules are learnt then students would wish to repeat again

    • Kevin Hayward
    • January 18, 2017

    Sounds a useful game for younger clients. Not certain that my older clients would appreciate it. Good as a fill in or end of session group event, definitely not for my face to face sessions

  1. This would be an enjoyable activity to liven up a lesson on a grammar point. The earthquake concept adds interest to a simple game.
    It would be best played with a class size of up to twelve students and the class being divided into two teams.
    It is suitable for all ages and levels. It is important that the questions be somewhat difficult to answer otherwise the game would become routine.

    • Mark
    • May 3, 2017

    As mentioned, this looks ideal for younger students and small class sizes. After students are comfortable with the concept, the grid could be extended to include review topics from earlier lessons and harsher consequences. It’s a good template to build on.

  2. This seems to be an enjoyable activity for one-on-one as well as group classes. While younger students would enjoy this activity more, adult students too would enjoy it, because of its competitive nature and the three secret squares which will keep the teams on their toes!

  3. The idea of this game seems engaging and a great exit ticket from a lesson. Perhaps as an ongoing activity you could include extension questions with bonus points so that the teams or individuals are playing for the win but also playing for bonus points that may keep the ‘competitive’ aspect alive! This also encourages students to revise and actively extend their knowledge and understanding of the grammar point.

    • Jonathan Boyd
    • July 2, 2017

    Sounds like a fun way to end a lesson or introduce a break to the class! I can imagine students both young or old would be engaged with this because of the competitive side to the game. The incentive of securing a square with a correct answer (and not wanting others to challenge) is also a great way to make sure students will have revised properly and understand the chosen grammar/vocab for the lesson.

  4. A game that allows students to practise their listening, reading and writing. A nice way to ‘ice break’ into a lesson or even to finish one off. The competitive nature of the game will help to ensure that the students are engaged and focused on the answers, whether they are having to answer or not.

    • Sue
    • August 9, 2017

    This game would be a fun way to finish off a lesson for either young or older students. The competitive side of the game, and the fact that there are secret squares, would encourage students to revise the vocabulary or grammar point having been studied. Reading, writing and listening are all covered, and this is certainly a plus.

  5. A good competitive game that would be good to round off a lesson. Good focus on listening, speaking and reading. Has a few complicated rules that would be better for an older/more advanced class. You could play a simplified version of it without the earthquake/rubble mechanic with a wider variety of students.

    • Kerrie Robertson
    • September 5, 2017

    Advantages of this game are its simplicity and its engagement of all class members in listening, speaking and reading the grammar point being taught. The simplicity of the rules, means that students should be able to devote their energy to the grammar point and not trying to understand complex game rules. All group members have the opportunity to be engaged in the discussion of answers and contribute, even if their learning levels are slightly different. Could be simplified/adapted even further. It could be used in pairs, and students could then be asked also to write their answers as well. Could be used as an introductory task, an evaluation task during the lesson or as feedback for the teacher on how the students went with the lesson.

    • Yolanda Mucha
    • September 14, 2017

    – A game in which the competitive nature of Ss would help them learn without even realizing they are learning. Playing it in two teams would encourage speaking practice amongst Ss. I like that this game will probably encourage a lot of discussion and peer correction, thus improving their speaking skills as well as grammar and sententence building. This game would be suitable for pre intermediate and above specially due to the complexity of the rules. A very energizing game to play

    • vini
    • November 4, 2017

    A simple but competitive and engaging idea for a game. With the right delivery and audience it could be a regular game to get students thinking at the end or start of the lesson. The basis of the game being accuracy and correction of mistakes also encourages a positive learning environment beyond the length of the game itself.

    • Barbara
    • November 28, 2017

    This game sounds interesting and adaptable to any grammar point as the format is quite general. It might be useful to have some specific examples or adaptations of the game. It’s unfortunate that it isn’t a game that students could manage on their own as a practice activity or to use in smaller groups, but a teacher would need to oversee to ensure proper grammar use.

    • Jolan Moore
    • December 12, 2017

    The game seems to engage class members in speaking, reading, listening and grammar and it is a good ice breaker. Everyone has the chance to contribute and participate in the discussion of answers. It can be used as an evaluation and as feedback for the tutor on how the learners went with the task

    • Luke Sipos
    • January 8, 2018

    The game would be good to complete at the end of a lesson as a way of confirming what grammar points have been taught throughout the lesson and provides multiple methods for confirmation and combining a little bit of fun. It provides an ability for everyone to join in as long as the teacher watches who is answering to ensure all participate. At beginner levels, due to the explanation of the game, it may take longer to explain than the time to actually get to play so this needs to be considered.

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