Things They Might Say

In the Things They Might Say ESL game, students have to convey a person using only things that they might say.

Students for Things They Might Say ESL Game:4+Time for Things They Might Say ESL Game:10-20 mins
Resources for Things They Might Say ESL Game:
Internet or Prepared Words and Countdown Timer; Projector (Optional)

If you have an Internet-connected device, the easiest way to play this game is using our online Things They Might Say game. This game will generate suitable people for the game, and automatically keep score.

If not, prepare a large list of suitable jobs/people that can be identified by something they would say. Some possibilities include mother, pilot, waiter, police officer, father, teacher, judge, doctor, and grandmother. You can prepare these on paper, or as a computer slideshow.

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


The Things They Might Say ESL game uses the Hot Seat setup. You can choose to have one student giving clues for their team, or if you have a projector, the team giving clues for one student. The latter is better for lower levels, because they may struggle when they are put on the spot individually.

  1. The teams take turns playing. One student from the team comes to the front of class.
  2. The student/team giving clues is shown the vocabulary word for a type of person. The guesser(s) cannot see this word.
  3. The student/team giving clues says something that the person might say. For example for a waiter, Can I take your order?.
  4. The guessers have thirty seconds to correctly name as many people as possible. They win a point for each correct guess. You may want to allow zero, one or multiple passes per round, depending on the level and the number of words you have available.
  5. Do the same with the other team. Repeat for future rounds with different students at the front. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Tip: The game will definitely tempt students to just describe people instead of using possible speech. Make sure they understand this rule and that you enforce it.

Target Language

As long as you enforce the rule about only using speech and not descriptions well (you will need to be strict!), the Things They Might Say ESL game is a great warmer for both intermediate and advanced students. As it is all about what people say, it could work well at the start of a class on reported speech.

You can modify the list of people according to the level of your students and words they have learned recently. As such you can also use it to practise jobs vocabulary.

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.