By Kevin Fabris

August 27, 2015

5 - 10 Minutes, Big Class, Big Room, Easy ESL Games,, EFL, ESL, Fun, Game, Learn It, No Materials Required, Practice It, Reported Speech, Speaking, Teams, Vocabulary, Young Learner

ESL Games are usually the most effective when they are a similar to a game your students already play for fun in their own languages.  Broken Telephone or Chinese Whispers is a game my students love playing in their Japanese classes that has been an awesome addition to my ESL lessons.


The grammar point being taught and reinforced is Reported Speech.

The Details:

  • There are no materials required.
  • This game is ideal for medium to large classes of elementary school or junior high school students.
  • A game should last between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • The object of the game is to whisper a secret message from student to student while using increasingly difficult reported speech.  Eventually the message makes it back to the original speaker.  If the final message hasn’t changed the class wins.

How to:

  1. Have your students sit on the floor in a circle.
  2. Whisper a secret message to the student sitting beside you.  E.g. “I like playing playing basketball.
  3. The student beside you then has to turn to the student on the other side of them and say “He/She said that he likes playing basketball“.
  4. That student must then pass the message along to the student sitting beside them and by using the sentence “He/She said, that He/She said that he likes playing basketball.”
  5. The process is repeated until the message has made it the entire way around the circle back to the original sender.

This game is a great way to get students using reported speech repetitively.  The setup and familiarity of the game however take away the boredom that often accompanies repetitive drilling.  If you class is larger that 20 students I’d suggest breaking your class into two teams and using the same target language to have a relay race.

I love using this game because it’s easy to set up, effective and lots of fun.  Give it a try in your ESL class and let us know how it works.


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