ESL Crime & Detective Game | Alibi Game [Updated]


Learning English can become exhilarating when you introduce an element of mystery and suspense. An innovative way of teaching English to ESL students is by using crime and detective games, such as Alibi. These games offer students an engaging platform to learn and practice English, build vocabulary related to crime, and master various verb tenses.

Criminal ESL GAMES

The Essence of ESL Crime & Detective Games

Crime and detective games are an exciting tool for educators, effectively combining education with entertainment. By using crime stories, you introduce your students to new vocabulary and different tenses in an engaging and fun manner. Students can learn crime vocabulary through hypothetical crime narratives, allowing them to practice the vocabulary and create their own sentences. This immersive learning experience promotes a deeper understanding of the English language.

The Variety of Crime & Detective Games

The possibilities are endless when it comes to crime and detective activities for ESL students. Here are a few examples:

  1. Classification of Crimes: Provide students with a list of crimes, and task them with classifying them into categories. As they do this, explain each crime and how it fits into its specific category. Alternatively, you can have students watch a crime scene or read crime descriptions to categorize them. This exercise will familiarize them with a wide range of crime vocabulary.

  2. Interview: Encourage students to share crime stories they’ve seen, experienced, or heard about. They can discuss famous crimes or notorious criminals from their home country. This activity promotes conversational skills and public speaking in English.

  3. Research Activity: Split students into pairs and assign each pair a famous criminal to research. They’ll develop a report on their assigned criminal and present it to the class, promoting research skills and academic writing in English.

The Exciting Alibi Game for ESL Students

The Alibi game, a role-playing exercise, is particularly popular. Students assume the roles of criminals and police officers, offering a dynamic way to practice verb formations and distinguish between various tenses. The game exercises creative thinking, question formation, and narrative skills, all in an engaging environment. Moreover, it’s an excellent tool for practicing the past continuous tense.

Alibi can also be a stepping stone for writing exercises. Post-game, ask students to write a report on the hypothetical crime scene, using their own words to recount the events.

How To Play The Alibi Game: Step-by-Step Guide

Playing Alibi doesn’t require a significant amount of preparation. Follow this comprehensive guide to organize the game for your class:

  1. Setting Up the Scenario: Present your students with a hypothetical crime scenario that occurred recently, such as a break-in at the classroom.

  2. Creating Suspicion: Tell the students that some of them are suspected of committing the crime and will be interrogated soon.

  3. Forming Pairs: Split the students into pairs and give them some time to prepare before the interrogation. Ask them to create a plausible alibi.

  4. Preparation Time: Give examples of alibis like ‘being at the gym’ or ‘watching a movie.’ Each pair should concoct a different story, ensuring their responses align on key details.

  5. Interrogation: Assign the roles of detectives and police officers to the remaining students. Send the pairs out of the room while the detectives prepare their questions.

  6. The Test: Bring the pairs back into the room one at a time for the interrogation. The goal of the detectives is to find inconsistencies in the pairs’ stories. If the stories match, they are innocent; if not, they are considered guilty.

Perfecting Past Continuous Tense with the Alibi Game

The Alibi game is a classic resource for practicing the past continuous tense. Construct a story around an event from the past, such as a theft at a party. By questioning the ‘suspects’ and hearing their defenses, the ‘police’ students will get to practice their questioning skills in the past continuous tense, while the ‘suspects’ can hone their storytelling. This activity is an entertaining yet insightful way to delve into the nuances of past continuous tense.


Crime and detective games such as Alibi can be a treasure trove of learning opportunities for ESL students. They foster vocabulary learning, verb and tense practice, and conversational skills in a dynamic, immersive environment. As an educator, your creativity is the only limit to transforming your ESL classroom into an exciting crime-solving hub.