Listening Bingo

Gayle Pellicano

Quick Guide

  • Key Words: Bingo, horizontal, vertical, and diagonal
  • Learner English Level: Elementary and above
  • Learner Maturity Level: High school to adult
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
  • Activity Time: 20–30 minutes, but could be longer if you use extension questions
  • Materials: Computer and printer, tape/CD player, recorded dialog, text, short story, or song

Students love bingo and perk up once they know they are going to play a new variation. Listening Bingo is a lovely way to get your students motivated and focused quickly while they practice listening in a fun way. It can be easily adjusted to suit the level of your students. Music, short stories, and dialog from video or DVD can also be used. This activity is also very useful to lead into other activities or introduce discussion topics and have fun at the same time.


Step 1: Select a listening passage from a text you are using with the class. It could be a dialog, a reading passage, a short story, poem, or even a song as long as you have a recording of it.

Step 2: From this passage, select about 20 words and type them up in an alphabetized and numbered list. Make sure the words you've chosen are clearly audible on the tape or CD.

Step 3: Make a 4x4 blank grid on a sheet next to the list of vocabulary you've selected from the script. This sheet should look something like Appendix 1.

Step 4: Print out enough copies for your students.


Step 1: Give the students the bingo grid/vocabulary list handout and ask them to look at the list of words.

Step 2: Teacher leads a listening and repeat session using the vocabulary list.

Step 3: Have pairs practice pronunciation with the list: One student says the odd-numbered words and the other says the even-numbered words.

Step 4: Pairs switch words and repeat Step 3. Monitor pairs and go over any pronunciation difficulties as needed.

Step 5: Ask each student to choose one of the words from the list and write it in any box on the bingo grid. Make sure they write the word and not the number.

Step 6: Have them choose another word and write it in another box, and repeat until all words are used. I like to give a 2-minute time limit, so students don't get too bogged down on the order of the words in the boxes. (* See Note)

Step 7: Explain to the students that they are going to listen to a text and that when they hear a word in their bingo grid, they must put an X over that word. They are trying to be the first to get a bingo.

Step 8: Elicit from the students how to get a bingo.

Step 9: Explain horizontal, vertical, and diagonal, if need be, using the bingo grid. Tell the students they have to shout out Bingo when they get 4 in a row.

Step 10: Play the tape/CD two or three times while the students mark the words they hear. I like to let all of the students get at least one bingo. Those who have a bingo can continue to get other bingos or try and mark all of their grid. Give out prizes if desired.

Step 11: Now have students open up their books to the script and play it again while they follow along.

Step 12: Ask them to circle any words or phrases they have questions about.

Step 13: Go over these questions with the class.

Step 14: Have pairs take turns reading the script to each other.

(Optional) Step 15: If there are discussion questions for the original script, use those, or make up your own discussion questions. (See sample questions in Appendix 2.)

(Optional) Step 16: Have small groups discuss an ending for the story, or have them write their own endings as homework.

*Note: I like to keep the content of the text a secret. If students know what the text is, they will fill in their bingo grid with the first four words of the text in a row to get the first bingo. If the text is unknown, it is fair to all of the students.

Appendix 1

Sample Bingo Card

  1. black
  2. breeze
  3. caught
  4. consequences
  5. daylight
  6. dusty
  7. February
  8. furniture
  9. heart
  10. listen
  11. loner
  12. magnolia
  13. parents
  14. petals
  15. remembered
  16. spring
  17. tattered
  18. wardrobe
  19. warmth
  20. woolen

Appendix 2

Sample Script

It was a bitter cold and frosty day in February. Jason knew what he had to do, but he didn't want to do it. Yet he knew if he didn't do it, the consequences could be worse. He felt alone in the world. He had no one to turn to, not even his parents would understand. His brother would only laugh at him, and his sister was too busy to listen. He was too shy to talk about it with his friends. His teachers thought he was a loner and left him alone. The biting breeze blew through a draft in the door, for he hadn't been able to shut it properly last night.

He got out of bed and pulled his woolen socks over the legs of his long underwear, he took an old pair of dusty jeans draped over a chair, the only piece of furniture in the room besides his bed and a dingy wardrobe that leaned to one side. He took out an old faded denim shirt with a tattered collar and holes in the elbows. He didn't want to ruin his good work clothes, just in case he didn't get caught.

He sat down at his desk and gazed outside. A scrawny black crow sat on the branch of a bare magnolia tree, with its buds just beginning to gather strength, hoping to one day spread their petals out for the sun, and absorb its warmth while dancing in the soft breezes of spring. Jason hoped he would someday feel the warmth of the sun, for he dreaded what he was about to do, and thought he may never see daylight again. He remembered last spring when he met Charisse. His heart began to beat heavily, but then he remembered the task he'd be given. He wished now he'd never met Charisse. Slowly, he picked up the pen and began to write a letter…

Sample Discussion Questions

Discuss these questions in your group or class. Be prepared to explain your answer. There is no wrong answer. Use your imagination.

  • How old do you think Jason is?
  • What do you think his job is?
  • What do you think he has to do?
  • Who is Charisse and what do you think her relationship with Jason is?