Chinese whisper – written version

So I`m sure many of you already know that game very well from the time they were in kindergarden or school. But just to make sure you all know, what I´m talking about:

How the traditional game works

You sit in a line (or circle), the first one makes up a short sentence and whispers this angel-1402789_960_720sentence into the ear of the next one. The second one is not allowed to ask anything, but has to tell the third one, what he just heard. This goes on till the end of the line and the last one has to speak out loud what ended up to be the sentence he heard.

Usually this is a lot of fun, because the sentences get tweaked and changed in the most funny way, because people tend to understand something different from what the speaker told them.

How I changed it for language learning

What you need:

  • At least three (better 4 to 6) players, who all know the two languages you are using. (Native or target language doesn´t matter)
  • As many pieces of paper as you have participants (Best, if you have different paper colors, but this is optional)
  • A pen/biro/pencil… for everyone.

How it works:

  1. In the first round you all note down a sentence.
  2. Translate the sentence into the other language.
  3. Fold the first sentence to the back, so nobody can see it.
  4. When all players are done, you all pass your paper to the next player (clockwise…)
  5. Translate the sentence you just got from your partner and then fold back his writing.
  6. Continue with steps 4 and 5 untill you recieve your own paper again.
  7. Now comes the great part:
    Open up the flaps and discover how your sentence has changed throughout the game. You may find that there are some changes because there are endless possibilities how to describe, what you wanted to say. This effect will get greater, when you do not stick to litterally translations, but try to find the best “native” used translation in the next language.
  8. Share all your sentences and discuss, why some words have changed and what they mean. What are the differences between them? Why did someone change the wordorder? How did this effect the message? Did you spell the words correctly?


  • Having fun exploring the languages, while playing with others
  • Finding synonyms and how to separate them
  • Finding other ways of expressing your ideas
  • Getting to know wordorder and spelling

And just like every time you play a game:



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