COVID-19: Contactless activities in Korean Elementary EFL classes.

COVID-19 in Korea

It is undeniable that COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives and the working order of even the smallest things. Schools, in particular are sensitive spaces given the high concentration of people within an isolated area for an extended period of time. Precautions and modifications to school function is particularly important and teachers are challenged in finding new ways to conduct their classes.

The start of the new school year in Korea has been delayed for several months and things will in some ways return to “normal” in the coming weeks as rolling resumption of classes begin nationwide.

Various changes in schools related to teaching.

  • Smaller class sizes (some schools)
  • Seats separated at a mandated distance from each other
  • English rooms: No longer being used for English instruction to limit the movement of students, and therefore, possible exposure/spread of infections.
  • Regulations on pair/group activities: limits communicative teaching approaches.
  • Individual materials: No longer able to share supplies; i.e. markers, scissors, pens.
  • Masks: Unable to see students speaking techniques.

-Moving forward

While there are many challenges still ahead as we navigate this new normal, take some comfort in knowing you are not alone. This list is not meant to be exhaustive and you may find that in your classroom they may work best as warm up/review activities rather than drill/hard production. Here are a few activities that you may use in your classrooms that make learning English fun (trust me, we all need some fun during these wild times).


  • Pull bingo – provide students with a strip of paper. On the paper there should be 5-7 pictures. The teacher will randomly say a word matching a specific picture. Students can only pull off the ends of their paper strip. Student to reach zero pictures is the winner.
  • Unlock the bank: On the TV students can see a series of pictures. Each picture has an associated number. The teacher will say a series of words and students must write down the “password” that matches the series of words as they relate to the pictures on the screen.


I combined speaking and reading because most of these activities can be interchangeable, meaning you can replace words with pictures (for speaking) and vice-versa:

  • Crystal ball: A crystal ball will appear on the TV screen showing a student number (students in Korea are assigned numbers). The student will then answer a question/read a word or sentence/or say a word matching a picture or question on the TV.
  • What’s missing: Show a collection of words or pictures on the TV or board and later remove one. Ask the students what is missing from the original.
  • Kimchi game: Students take turns reading words that make up a sentence. One word, one student. When the sentence is finished, go to the next slide. If Kimchi is the next slide, that next student is out.
  • Quick words: Words will quickly fly across the screen, ask the students what word they saw.
  • Connect four: Divide the class between team A and team B. Traditional rules for connect four.
  • Pictionary: Building on words students already know, or from words in the particular lesson, slowly draw a picture on the board.
  • Kahoot games: Each student will need a tablet or smartphone for this but it is possible.
  • Nunchi game: Put a sentence on the board or TV. Countdown 3…2…1 and ring a bell. Students are then allowed to each say one word of the sentence. The challenge is to have only one student say the word and for the class to complete the entire sentence or series of sentences. If two students say the same word the game starts over at the beginning word.
  • Pyramid rock paper scissors: Divide the class between A/B. Have a pyramid on the TV or board and do rock paper scissors each time. The winner can advance to the next level of the pyramid. Team to reach the top first wins.
  • Find the candy:
  • Hidden images: Images are hidden underneath shapes that slowly reveal the hidden image. Students raise their hand to say what they think the picture/word associated with the picture is.


  • Blazing pens: On the TV or classroom board, scramble a sentence. Give students a specific time-frame to unscramble to the sentence and check the word order to give points.
  • Bingo: Enough said. Back to basics.
  • Telepathy: Present students with multiple words or sentences and give them a specific amount of time to choose one. If the word or sentence that they wrote on their paper is left, they get points.
  • Find the candy: Under each word there is a blank space of a picture of candy. Give students a few moments to choose a certain amount of words and then check each box to see how many points students will recieve.

Additional resources

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