The Battleship game


In this post, I’d like o share one of my favorite activities I do with my students when revising vocabulary. The trouble is that I have presented it on several occasions but I can’t remember whether I’ve shared it here on my blog. This may either mean I’m getting old and forgetful or I might be too prolific a blogger. 🙂 Anyways…


You probably know, have played or even used a variation of the Battleship game in your L2 classroom. It is a guessing game for two players. In class, it can be played in pairs or groups of four (two players will share the same grid). It’s played on ruled grids (paper or board) on which the players’ fleets of ships (including battleships) are marked. The locations of the fleet are concealed from the other player. Players alternate turns taking ‘shots’ at the other player’s fleet. The objective of the game is to destroy the opposing player’s fleet.

Give each S the following grid (this is just an example, you’ll obviously want to give your students a grid filled with vocabulary items of your own choice).


Before the game begins, each player secretly arranges their ‚ships‘ on the grid. Each ship occupies a number of consecutive squares on the grid, arranged either horizontally or vertically. The number of squares for each ship is determined by the type of the ship (see the example below). The ships shouldn’t (but can) overlap. The types and numbers of ships allowed are the same for each player. I usually ask Ss to arrange 2 ships made of 2 squares, 1 ship made of three squares and 1 ship made of 4 squares. After the ships have been positioned, the game proceeds in a series of rounds. In each round, each player takes a turn to explain a word he or she thinks occupies a square belonging to one of the ships on his/her opponent’s grid.



  • Student A: It’s a means of transport. You need to buy a ticket when you want to use it. It’s lone.
  • Student B: Train?
  • Student A: Yes, that’s what I meant.
  • Student B: Sorry. MISS!
  • Student B’s turn now: It’s kind of fish. You usually buy it in tins. It’s quite expensive.
  • Student A: Tuna?
  • Student B: Yes, that’s what I meant.
  • Student A: Well done! HIT!
  • When the whole ship is destroyed, the student must let the opponent know by saying DESTROYED or SINKING.

No-prep variation:

You can give students an empty 6 X 6 grid (which they can also draw themselves) and before the game begins, each pair agrees on words they’ll have in their grids (note: the grids need to be identical!). These may be words they feel they need to practice for a test, for example.

Note: If you happen to have an odd number of students, you’ll need to have one group of three in which two students will share one grid.

My students love it, I hope yours will as well!


About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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3 Responses to The Battleship game

  1. Lina says:

    Wow! This can be a great activity for practising Checking Understanding function! I’d be more than happy to use it – can I? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great idea, Hana! Makes me wish I was still teaching so I could try it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cristina says:

    I love it. Thank you so much for sharing this activity!

    Liked by 1 person

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