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 General GameBroken Telephone

SUBMITTED BYJoyce P. Le / Patrick Bickford / Mark Rinella

BORROWED FROM / INSPIRED BY: Too many places to keep count


DATE ADDED: Jun 3, 2011


  Small Classes (1-15 Students)ÒLarge Classes (16-39 Students)Ó


15-30 min.

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BRIEF OUTLINE: Every row in the classroom forms a group, a metaphorical 'telephone cord'. The goal is for each group to race in order to verbally pass a word, phrase or sentence down their team's telephone cord and the last person must repeat it to one of the teachers. This game is sometimes called でんごん (伝言)ゲーム in Japanese.



  • BrokenTelephone attachments: There are two options to choose from: 1.) "...wants you to...," 2.) "There is/are..." 



  1. Each row of students is a group, meaning there are will most likely be 6 groups in your class.
    One of the teachers take the last student in each row into the hallway and has them memorize a word, phrase or sentence (WPS). It should be based on the grammar point currently being studied, or it could also be some type of review WPS.
  2. When the teacher shouts "Go!" students race to whisper the WPS to the next student in line. They can repeat it as many times as needed, keeping in mind the 'whisper' part so that other teams can't hear.
  3. When the WPS has reached the last student, you can have the student either write the WPS down on a scratch piece of paper or have them come and whisper it into a teacher's ear. If they are correct their team receives points. Points are awarded for speed: 5pts, 4pts 3pts, 2pts, while the last two groups receive 1pt. If a WSP is incorrect, the person must go back to their group and figure out they went wrong.
  4. Each telephone line rotates so there is a new 'last person' and the game is repeated.



  • "WANTS YOU TO" OPTION: Students practice using sub+verb+infinitive sentences: "I want you to draw a house." This variation is played the exact same way, except instead of writing or saying the WPS to the teachers, the first person in the row must act out or do the sentence. For example, if the sentence is, "I want you to touch your head," then the first student needs to touch his/her head to receive the points. If the sentence is, "I want you to draw a house," then the first student must run to the chalkboard and draw a house. For this variation, it might be handy review verbs before the game starts: Draw, touch, walk, close, raise, etc.
  • "THERE IS/ARE" OPTION: Students race to draw various things located in a bedroom. The last person in the row receives a copy of the completed picture, while the first person in the row receives a copy of the incompleted picture. The last student must describe the picture to the second student whispering, "There is/are..." The second student must repeat the sentence to the third. The sentence is whispered down the row until the last person receives it, at which point they must draw the missing items onto the incomplete picture. Once everything has been described have the students who drew compare their pictures with each other. Change the teams which places after each sentence so everyone has a chance to draw. If you want to practice writing, after the game, have all the students write the sentences in their English notebooks. If you choose to do this option, you might blow up a copy of the completed picture and post it on the chalkboard for the students to reference once all the teams are finished.


  •  When a team incorrectly says a WSP, watch to make sure they don't try and get the answer directly from the 'last person.' Instead, direct them to work down the telephone line backwards until they find the mistake.
  • There will be students who will use Japanese instead of English during the whispering. There will also be students who dont know what they are saying. The only remedy is practice, practice, practice. The teachers can walk around the classroom to ensure students are using English rather than Japanese.

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This page was last modified on Friday, March 16, 2012 10:25:58 AM