Circle game activities

These games involve the learners sitting in a circle and working as a whole class.

Joanna Budden, British Council, Spain

Conditional chain game
This game is good to revise and practise structures in the first conditional.

  • The teacher begins with a sentence, for example 'If I go out tonight, I'll go to the cinema.'
  • The next person in the circle must use the end of the previous sentence to begin their own sentence. E.g. 'If I go to the cinema, I'll watch The Last Samurai.' The next person could say, 'If I watch The Last Samurai, I'll see Tom Cruise,' etc. etc.

Word Associations
A very simple game where students must think of words connected to the word that comes before.

  • For example, the teacher says, 'fish', the next person thinks of a word they associate with fish, such as 'water', the next person could say 'a glass', the next 'window', etc.
  • You can decide as a group if associations are valid. Ask the student to justify the connection.
  • To make it more competitive, set a thinking time limit and eliminate students.
  • When they are eliminated they can become judges.

Chinese whispers - telephone lines
A sentence is whispered around the circle. The last student to receive the message either says it aloud or writes it on the board. This can be a fun way to introduce a topic and activate schema at the beginning of a class. For example, for a class on food, whisper the question, 'What did you have for lunch today?' Equally, at the end of a class it can be a nice way to revise structures or vocabulary from the lesson.


  • To begin with, students sit in a circle and do the hand actions of lap (both hands to lap), clap, left click, right click.
  • When they get the hang of it, add these words in time to the rhythm 'Concentration, concentration, concentration now beginning, are you ready? If so, let's go!'
  • On the first finger click, you say your name, and on the second click you say the name of someone in the circle.
  • You have passed the turn to the person you nominated on your second finger click.
  • Then they say their own name on the first click and the name of another student on the second.
  • When they have got the idea, use lexical sets. For example, everyone says their favourite sport first then use these to play the game.
  • For a competitive group, eliminate those students who make mistakes.

I went to the shops and I bought…
The classic memory game where each person adds a new item to the list in alphabetical order.

  • For example, student 1, 'I went to the shops and I bought an apple'. Student 2, 'I went to the shops and I bought an apple and a bike'. Student 3, 'I went to the shops and I bought an apple, a bike and a coat'.
  • This game can be adapted to different levels and lexical sets. I recently revised sports and the use of do / play / go by playing 'I went to the sports centre…', the same game but using different vocabulary. For example, 'I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics', 'I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics and played basketball', 'I went to the sports centre and I did aerobics, played basketball and went canoeing' etc.

Yes / No game

  • Nominate one student to be in the hot seat, slightly apart from the rest of the circle.
  • The rest of the group must think of questions to ask the student in the hot seat.
  • They can ask anything they like, the only rule is that the student in the hot seat must answer the questions without using the words 'yes' or 'no'.
  • Also ban 'yeah', head nods and shakes! For example, a student asks, 'Are you wearing jeans today?' The student in the hot seat could reply, 'I am' or 'You can see that they're jeans!'

For advice on how to manage these games and for more activity ideas, see:

Language Level


Submitted by Sonia Marie O… on Sun, 01/20/2019 - 14:19

Thank you for these ideas. I will try these activities in my class this week. It will surely make my students be more engaging. Cheers.

Submitted by Kulzhabek Pariza on Fri, 05/04/2018 - 04:43

It is very good activities and games.In the future I will use these activities and games .I like it very much.Thanks for giving such activities and games.

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