Depending on your target language, you may want to prepare a list of words or sentences beforehand. Often though, this is not necessary (as long as you’re comfortable thinking on your feet).
In class, divide the students into two or more teams. It works best with at least five students per team, preferably more.
As in a game of Telephone, students line up in their teams facing the board, with about an arms length’s space between them. The student at the front should be a few metres from the board, and have a pen/marker/chalk. However, one student from each team goes to the side of the room – they will be the guesser.
- Show the students at the back of the line a word/sentence.
- When you say go, the students pass the word/sentence down the line by whispering it to each other.
- When it reaches the student at the front, they draw a representation of that word/sentence on the board.
- The guessers have to shout what they think the student from their team is drawing. These students should cover their ears during play so that they do not hear the word being passed down the line.
- The team whose student guesses correctly first wins a point.
- Repeat the process by rotating the positions of the students and changing the word/sentence for subsequent rounds.
- The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Tip: The Pictionary Telephone ESL game will definitely tempt your students (especially kids) to cheat by skipping out people or shouting words forward. Be prepared with some swift points deductions if you spot that happening.
Just like Pictionary, you can use the Pictionary Telephone ESL game to practise almost any type of vocabulary. By varying that vocabulary you can adapt it for beginner, intermediate or advanced students, as well as kids.
Again as in Pictionary, a really fun variation is for the students to draw the scene described by a sentence. This is a great way to practise the present continuous – e.g. A monkey is dancing with a pineapple on the beach.
While the original version of Pictionary is fine for smaller classes, this version is better for ten students or more (it’s usually more fun too). And if the combination of two games still isn’t enough for your students, place the artists next to the board and blindfold them for an extra challenge — Blindfold Pictionary Telephone!
Note: If you’re looking for a game where students alternate between drawing and describing an action/situation on pieces of paper, this is called Telephone Pictionary.
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