Five-Second Summaries

As seen on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, in the Five-Second Summaries ESL game students only have five seconds to describe movies, famous people or other vocabulary items to their teammates.

Students for Five-Second Summaries ESL Game:4+Time for Five-Second Summaries ESL Game:5-15 mins
Resources for Five-Second Summaries ESL Game:
Internet and Projector or Prepared Words, Board, Chalk/Markers and Countdown Timer

If you have an Internet connection and a projector, the easiest way to play is to use our online Five-Second Summaries game. Otherwise, you will need to prepare a set of vocabulary items to project/write on the board, according to your target language.

In class, divide the students into small teams of two, three or four.

As this game is played on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, you could model it by playing a clip from the show.

  1. One student from each team sits on a chair facing away from the board. The teams take turns playing.
  2. Write/project a vocabulary item on the board. The team playing has to describe the item to the student who can’t see it. However, they only have five seconds to do so (use a countdown timer if not playing the online game), then they must stop talking.
  3. When the time is up, the student has one guess. If it is correct, the team wins a point.
  4. Repeat with different words for the other teams.
  5. After one or two goes for each team, change the students guessing. Repeat for as long as desired. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Target Language

The Five-Second Summaries ESL game is a fast-paced warmer you can play with any class. Simply vary your vocabulary category according to the level of your students.

As such, you can use it to practise almost any type of vocabulary topic in which there are sufficient words. With more advanced students, try movies and famous people too.

Got a picture or video of this activity in action? How about snapping one next time you use it? We'd love to showcase your submissions- find out more here.