Back Draw Telephone

The Back Draw Telephone ESL game is a version of Telephone for practising numbers and letters with beginner level kids.

Students for Back Draw Telephone ESL Game:8+Time for Back Draw Telephone ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Back Draw Telephone ESL Game:
Board; Chalk/Markers

Divide your students into two or more teams (at least four students per team). Ask them to line up in those teams, facing the board. There should be about an arms length’s space between each of them. The student at the front should be a few metres away from the board and have a marker/chalk to write on the board with.

  1. Show or tell the students at the back of the lines a number/letter.
  2. When you say go, they have to pass it down the line by drawing that number/letter on the back of the person in front of them with their finger. This is unlike the original version of Telephone, where a word/sentence is passed with a whisper.
  3. When the student at the front receives the number/letter, they run to the board and write that number/letter on the board.
  4. The first team with it written correctly at the front gets a point.
  5. Repeat the process with another number/letter.
  6. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Tip: Make sure to enforce complete silence by docking points if necessary!

Target Language

The Back Draw Telephone ESL game is only really suitable for a limited range of students, but it’s perfect for those just learning how to write numbers or the alphabet in English. As an extension, you could ask the students writing to write out the number as a word. Or if playing with letters, to write a word beginning with that letter of the alphabet.

If the teams are large enough (and the kids are old enough to understand the instructions), you could even try combining the game with the original Telephone and get students to alternate between “back-drawing” and whispering to pass the number/letter forward.

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