A year or two ago, a CSUEB classmate and I presented a workshop on using word games with student writers. There is research that word games are connected to a higher degree of language awareness, which is correlated with better language control. We made a PDF with a couple of references, some game recommendations, URLs for free games, and more. You can download it: Creating Play from Work: Word Games for Student Writers (PDF).
However, I also think that playing in English is valuable. Although it’s not exactly a word game, I’d like to recommend Fluxx, a card game with very simple rules that change as you play. Most of the rules are written right on the cards. It’s difficult to explain how much fun and how easy Fluxx is to play, but I think you’ll like it once you try it. I played it today with a Japanese client who has been in the US for about a year and a half, and who previously did not use English. He was able to understand almost all of the cards’ instructions, but had to concentrate pretty hard to try to put it all together. He was having so much fun after the first round that he asked to play again (and again–we played three times and ran over our lesson time by 40 minutes!). For intermediate and higher students, this is a great way to get them talking, reading, and concentrating in English. They’ll also learn some useful vocabulary–we frequently use card-game terms like deal, hand, shuffle, deck, etc.–and a bunch of collocations/phrases like “milk and cookies,” “time is money,” “all you need is love,” “baked goods,” etc. Trust me, it’ll make sense when you play the game! Best of all, it’s compact and you can carry it with you for a game at any time. Your fellow teachers will find it fun, too. (You can also get Fluxx in several other languages. I may get Japanese for my own practice!)
Let me know if you try Fluxx or if you have another game to recommend.