The Nunchi Game for an ESL class in Korea

Are you an ESL teacher looking for a game to use in a class that’s going to start in five minutes? Then the nunchi game is for you because it requires almost zero preparation! As long as you have a vocabulary list that you’re working on, you’re good to go. What’s great about this is that it’s easy to explain because there will be at least one student in class that already knows how to play, and it could go on as long as you want.

What is nunchi (눈치)? 

Nunchi(눈치) is a Korean word which means, the ability to detect others’ feelings and actions.


If you don’t have nunchi (눈치가 없다), it means that you are clueless.  Clueless person = 눈치가 없는 사람

What is the nunchi game (눈치게임)?

So this game is a test to see if students can predict their classmate’s moves. This is originally a drinking game which makes the loser  take a shot.


Before playing the game

The number of students should be more than 5, and it would be more fun if the students sat in a circle facing each other, but it is not necessary.

This game is originally played with Korean numbers, but since this is an English class, use English numbers instead.

Teachers may use one of these word lists depending on the students’ English level (listed from easy to advanced). The main point is that this word list is in a particular order.

  • Numbers
  • Letters of the alphabet
  • Days of the week
  • Months of the year
  • Weekly vocabulary list in alphabetical order
  • Animal names in alphabetical order
  • Connect the letters (Apple -> Elephant -> Toy -> Yellow)

Before playing the game, students should know how to pronounce all of the words on the list.

During the  game

How to play:  Each student must stand up and declare a word without overlapping with other students or becoming the last one. If the student is the only one that declares a word, that student is a survivor. As long as the words are said in the correct order, any student can stand. First come first serve.


Losers can either get a small punishment like getting a slap on the wrist, or they can be considered “out” until the game gets a final survivor after a few rounds. The students get more excited if they can give each other punishments, but teachers must remind them to not be too violent. It is less exciting but more peaceful to have a point system or “losers out” system.


1. Tell students to remain standing after they call out a word, so that it is easy to see who are the survivors and who are the ones that are still playing the game.

2. This game could be played the opposite way by first having everyone stand and eventually the survivors sit down.

3. Make two teams, so students who are “out” can root for their teammates.

After the game

Reward the winners with candy or simply praise them with words, an applause, or high-five.


Review the word list to make sure that all students have learned it by the end of the game.

I have used other Korean drinking games such as the Baskin Robbins 31  and the 007 Bang and they have been successful as well!


2 thoughts on “The Nunchi Game for an ESL class in Korea”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s