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BINGO Card Generator Sites for ESL lessons

As many ESL teachers know, one of the best ways to teach and reinforce some concepts is through playing BINGO, since it gets the students using their eyes and ears ( verbal and visual comprehension skills), and gives them many chances for repetition to help a vocabulary topic really sink in.

The idea is that you create cards with words or numbers in the grid that comprises the Bingo card, and students read from a call sheet (or randomly pick a paper with a word, number or time on it) and tell the rest of class. All those with that word/number/time on their card draw an X through it, or place a marker on it, and when they get a row or column or diagonal line completed, they call out BINGO. The student has to read back the winning row/column or line to confirm their win.
It helps if the teacher has been writing what the students call out to check that the correct thing was said in the first place (especially for telling time Bingo).

I’ve used this game with children aged 6 and up and with adults and seniors and everybody enjoyed it time and again, and asked to keep going after the first person won.

Bingo has worked well to reinforce learning numbers (it’s especially good for getting students to practise saying the ‘teen’ numbers and their similar sounding counterparts = e.g. 13 and 30), ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 5th, 33rd,100th),saying the time, and to reveiw groups of related new vocabulary words (e.g. members of the family – brother, sister, uncle, aunt, son, daughter, cousin, brother in law, etc.).

It was surprisingly difficult and time consuming to find a Bingo Card Generator online, for free, that was quick and easy to set up and made cards that actually looked like Bingo cards.

Since I spent hours reviewing different websites, trying to figure out the best sites to use for different purposes, I thought I’d share some of my top picks:

Perceptus’ Bingo Card Generator http://print-bingo.com

This site offers a lot of different choices in making Bingo Cards, and at first it seems a bit complicated, with all the words to read on the homepage, but it’s really not that difficult to quickly generate a large set of randomized Bingo Cards for free.

The cards look a bit home-made at the end (like a chart on a page) but they will do the trick. You have options to pay to upgrade if you want to save your Bingo lists for future use or create call sheets, or other special extras.

This site is best if you plan on making a large number of cards at once. It has a great ‘randomizer’.

The downside in my opinion is that you need 75 terms to start with. As a result, it’s not good for introducing new words, (people can’t learn than many new words at once), but rather, would work best as a general review. It will work very well for reviewing cardinal and ordinal numbers (say, up to 100) or for reviewing vocab from many units at the end of term.

There are some Template word lists” lists available that could save you a ton of prep time if the words matched what you wanted to review (e.g. Canadian provinces, American States, alphabet bingo, numbers bingo, or teach vocabulary for special events like the World Cup, Hockey, Valentine’s Day, Hallowe’en or animals) :

ESL Activities.com – Great Bingo Card Generator for reinforcing or reviewing 25 or so terms. This site allows you to make cards that can be used as Bingo Cards (but they don’t have Bingo written at the top and look more like a chart than a game card). You can’t choose to download and save to your computer the completed card sets, unfortunately. You have to print them immediately or save the terms to a text file to run through their card generator at a later date.

The advantages are that you can quickly make many cards at once, print out a call sheet, and enter in a clue for each term entered to help students remember the word or number. Also you can enter text words, not just numbers, and you can also enter digital times, which is a bonus. The font size automatically adjusts to display your terms so you don’t have to fuss with formatting much.

Overall, simple and easy to use this site and Bingo card generation tool. I give it a thumbs up!

Apollo’s Templates for Bingo – The site offers a pdf template you can download and use to make your own Bingo Cards or free. It’s a straightforward way to make a small set of Bingo cards using 25 numbers.

I really like that the Bingo cards actually look like Bingo game cards, not like a chart printed on a page. I also liked that it took 30 seconds to figure out how to make the cards; it was very intuitive to use this template.

This template is great to have saved on your computer for the times when you don’t have much time or no access to the internet, don’t need many cards, and know exactly what you want on your cards.

The drawbacks are that you can’t save the cards you’ve created to file. You have to print them immediately (a function of the pdf format for card generation). So, make sure you have a way to print and then scan your cards to file before students use them so you have a quick and easy way to make duplicates in the future without keying in all the numbers or words again.

The other drawbacks are that you can only use this for cardinal numbers (not times, ordinals or text words) and that it doesn’t give you a way to automatically generate multiple randomized cards with a click of the mouse – you have to type up each card individually. This can be an advantage if you actually want duplicate cards or a special order on the cards.

MES-English.comESL Resources / EFL Resources for Teachers of Young Learners. – No Bingo Cards here, but some interesting variations on how to play Bingo in a classroom setting.

This website is geared towards young (children) learning English, but the ideas could translate well to other age groups with a little preparation, such as by using photos instead of cartoon drawings.

One game variation listed on this site doesn’t need adapting to use it with adults: the OGNIB Game (Bingo in reverse). For this game, the students place 5 markers at random on the card and they remove a marker if their word/picture/number comes up. They win when the card is ‘marker free’.

I hope these suggestions help you prepare BINGO games for your ESL class. If you know of other good BINGO Card generator sites, let me know!

4 comments to BINGO Card Generator Sites for ESL lessons

  • Thanks for your feedback. I came up with this ideas because I figured there were other ESL teachers out there who would appreciate some advice on the best sites to use for different teaching purposes.

  • hi, thanks for the helpful bingo info mate, there’s so many options these days it’s hard to know where to look for relevant info, thank you.

  • Hi, thanks for the link and the referrals to print-bingo.com. FYI, you only need a minimum of 24 words for your card designs (if you have a free space), not 75.

  • Benjamin Golding emailed this comment on Aug 9, 2012:

    “hey Marianne i’m an ESL teacher and i found this post to be very useful!. i come back to it once a month because i always forget to mark the websites as bookmarks.

    One thing though i might add – i use the bingo card generator to print out bingo cards in classes. This is the best one out of them all so i thought you might add it to the list. I’m a regular visitor and will always be back (i’m not bookmarking them this time too), thank you! “

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