The telephone game challenges students listening skills as the pass a message down the line via whisper. An elementary school classic that you may find repurposes well as an English activity.

If you're from the commonwealth, you may also know this game as Chinese Whispers. In America, it's commonly known as the telephone game. In Japan, it's the dengon game / 伝言ゲーム / でんごんゲーム.

Basic Info

Time: 10 mins
Level: Elementary grade 1-4
Works with: any vocab, even phrases
Class size: medium to large

You will need:

  • nothing


  1. Students make lines.
  2. The first student in the line is assigned a word or phrase.
  3. The first student whispers the word to the second student.
  4. Step 3 repeats down the line.
  5. The final student announces what they heard and compares it to what the first student started with.


  • Play some background music to make it harder to "accidentally" hear the message when it's not your turn.


  • This game can end up being a big blame-fest. You may wish to warn students ahead of time that it's ok if the message changes.



If you are going to use this game, it's best used as a fun drilling game. Students get to try saying new vocabulary words on their own and hearing their peers say the words. It's not communication but as a drilling activity, it'll get the job done and with a bit of fun.

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