How to Play the Broken Telephone Game

How to Play the Broken Telephone Game

Depending on where you live, this game may be called Chinese whispers, gossip games, telephone games, or broken telephone games. You basically whisper a tricky phrase in someone’s ear, and this message will be passed on, and the last person will say it out loud.

Usually, the phrases evolve into something very different and funny at the end. This is a game that can be played anywhere and doesn’t need any materials. All you need is a group of people willing to play it! This game can be played by everyone regardless of their age and will be a fun session where you can build several skills simultaneously.

Skills like paying attention, careful processing of auditory information, socialization, communication abilities, etc., can be learned from this game. If you want to know how to play the telephone game along with phrases, we have you covered!

How to Play the Telephone Game?

How to Play the Telephone Game?

After the players are made to stand in their positions (usually in a linear line), the first person has to choose a difficult or unique phrase. Then, they have to whisper it in the next person’s ear. They should whisper it only once, as repeating the phrases is not allowed.

Then, the second player will, in turn, whisper to the third one whatever they heard and understood. And so on, the whispers are passed on to the last person, who then reveals out loud whatever they heard.

Then, a comparison can be made between the first phrase whispered and the last one said aloud. This is called a broken telephone game because, just like how a poor telephone connection distorts the voices, this game also does that.

Rules of The Telephone Game

Rules of The Telephone Game

  1. You are not allowed to change phrases or words knowingly unless you are playing a variation of the game. This defeats the purpose of the game, which is to examine how accurately you and your team can relay the message.
  2. Whisper quietly so that no one else can hear you saying the phrase. Standing in a line or circle can prevent others from hearing it, and you can also put your hand in front of your mouth to hide what you are saying.
  3. You can listen to the phrase only once, so pay attention! There cannot be any clarifications as well, so make sure to relay the message accurately.
  4. Comparing the message at the end to check where it became distorted will make the game more productive as you can learn from the mistakes.
  5. Although there isn’t any specific rule that states that this game requires a specific number of players, the larger the group, the merrier it is. However, you need at least 3 people to play this game. The players can be made to stand in a circle or a straight line with enough space between each player so that the whispered phrases are not overheard.

The Objective of The Telephone Game

The Objective of The Telephone Game

Through this broken telephone game, values and ideas can be learned easily. For instance, team members can learn how even a small miscommunication can lead to big mistakes in the end.

This game helps children learn verbal skills, improve their pronunciation, and make them understand the power that rumor or gossip can have, as they will learn how even small, silly things can get distorted when more people are involved.

This game can be played by everyone regardless of their age, ranging from children to adults. At parties, classrooms, workspaces, etc., this game can be played as it doesn’t require any materials and only requires 3 or more interested individuals. With adults, this game can be used as an icebreaker where they get to know each other and build a connection with the rest of the group.

Symbolically, adults can understand how important communication is to the team. This game can be played at parties with fun facts about friends being shared!

Some Variations of the Telephone Game

Some Variations of the Telephone Game

Some variations of this game can be tried, and these add a new layer to this game, making it more challenging and wonderful.

1. Play in Teams

One variation of this game that can be tried is if two or more teams are willing to participate. This way, the communication skills and like-mindedness of the team members can be assessed. These are the steps to be followed for this variation of the telephone game.

  • The teams can be made to stand in two separate lines or circles, and the goal can be to relay the phrase as quickly as they can.
  • The team that gets it right first can be made the winner, or the team that gets the closest possible answer can be the winner.
  • The main rule is that the same person has to give the starting phrase to both teams so that there can be a fair judgment

2. Add Small Words in Each Turn

This can be an interesting variation where the players can add words to each turn even if they heard it correctly. In the end, the phrase will be very different, and this aspect of it will make it a great game to play.

3. Alternate Between Drawing and Whispering

In this variation, the first person can whisper the phrase (which should be somewhat possible to draw) while the second person relays the phrase to the third one through a drawing. The fourth person should understand what the drawing is and then whisper it to the fifth and that person should draw and show it to the next.

In the end, it will be entertaining to know how the original phrase turned out! So the order is whisper > drawing > whisper > drawing, and so on. You can use a drawing board to draw the phrase/word given to you.

4. Try the Broken Telephone Game in Different Languages

If the group you are playing the game with is bilingual or multilingual, then you can try passing the phrase in different languages that every member knows. This can be fun when the members have to translate, as sometimes it can go wildly different.

5. Increase the Difficulty of The Game

You can use complex phrases like tongue twisters (e.g., how can a clam cram in a clean cream can?) so that the listener needs to pay attention in order to win. This can especially be used if you don’t want the other teams (if any) to win.

Some Phrases to Use in The Telephone Game

Some Phrases to Use in The Telephone Game

You can have a couple of phrases ready that are difficult to relay correctly. These phrases can be funny, informative, rhyming, educational, etc. But make sure it is challenging so that you can watch the reaction of the players, which will be extremely entertaining!

1. Funny Phrases

For Adults

  1. I should close a million tabs that I will never look at
  2. Even icebergs cannot sink our friendship
  3. My exercise routine is running out of money
  4. I just want to find a parking spot every day
  5. I am not lazy, and I am in energy-saving mode
  6. The best chips are the ones made of chocolate
  7. I have no idea what I am doing, but I do it very well
  8. I lost my lunch last week in the library
  9. Nicholas Cage makes a good Superman
  10. You are a sad little person, and you have my sympathy

For Children

  1. Don’t worry, be silly
  2. Dance with my dragon
  3. My dad is a dinosaur
  4. Wacky worms do the wiggly dance
  5. Llamas wear colorful pajamas
  6. Angry Birds won an online game
  7. There is a spider behind you
  8. Let’s play bing bong, ping pong
  9. Socks slide on a slippery floor
  10. Should we eat goofy gummy bears?

2. Difficult Words

Here are some tricky words for you to use in the game!

  1. Bamboozled
  2. Blabberdabber
  3. Kerfuffle
  4. Codswallop
  5. Nincompoop
  6. Snickersnee
  7. Collywobbles
  8. Brouhaha
  9. Gobbledygook
  10. Rambunctious
  11. Bumfuzzle
  12. Onomatopoeia
  13. Ecclesiastical
  14. Worcestershire
  15. Snollygoster

3. Phrases for Children

  1. Hickory dickory dock
  2. The fish in the sea swim so merrily
  3. The river flows rapidly to the sea
  4. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
  5. The funny monkey jumps over the big tree
  6. Bees buzz around the big blue flowers
  7. Mary had a lovely little lamb
  8. Wheels on the bus go round and round
  9. The birdie in the big tree goes tweet tweet tweet
  10. The moon shines brightly in the night sky
  11. Superheroes save the day from the big bad villains
  12. Pass me the potatoes, please
  13. Seven silly seals are slowly sailing
  14. Blue bubbles in a bath
  15. Dozens of diving dolphins

4. Idioms and Proverbs

  1. Half a loaf is better than none
  2. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
  3. Every why has an of which
  4. Paddle your own canoe
  5. Strike the rod while it is hot
  6. A rolling stone gathers no moss
  7. Curiosity killed the cat, but the satisfaction brought it back
  8. If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours
  9. You need to break a few eggs to make an omelet
  10. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

5. Tongue Twisters

  1. If a dog chews shoes, whose shoes does he choose?
  2. He threw three free throws.
  3. A happy hippo hopped and hiccupped.
  4. Each easter, Eddie eats eighty easter eggs
  5. Can you can a can as a canner can a can?
  6. I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen.
  7. If you notice this notice, you will notice this notice is not worth noticing.
  8. Ellie has eleven elves in her elm tree
  9. Fresh French fried fly fritters
  10. Dubble bubble gum, bubbles double

These are some phrases that you can use in your broken telephone game to make it more fun!

Final Thoughts

Team games are an informative experience that is also amusing because you can learn several skills like how to socialize, listen attentively, practice verbal skills, learn how to be a team player, etc. The broken telephone game is a great game to build such skills while having an interesting time.

In this game, you need three or more players standing in a line or a circle. Then, the first person will whisper the word/ phrase to the second, who will, in turn, whisper it to the next person, and so on. The last person will say the word out loud, and comparisons can be made between the first original word/phrase and the last one.

The main rule is that the word/phrase cannot be whispered more than one time, and the players have to be attentive while playing the game. There are variations of this game also, and if you tried any of the variations, let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Rules of The Broken Telephone Game?

There aren’t many rules as such, but there are some requirements. For instance, you need to have at least 3 players to make it interesting, the players need to position themselves in a straight line or circle, and the word/phrase can be whispered only once. You can only whisper the sounds, as being too loud will defeat the purpose of this game.

What Are the Benefits of Playing the Telephone Game?

Skills such as communication, team building, active listening, verbal abilities, etc., can be developed by playing this game. For children, their speech and pronunciation can improve, whereas for adults, the importance of communication and the problems that arise with even small misconceptions can be learned.

Jake Jones

Jake Jones is a veteran journalist with a Bachelor’s in Communications from UCLA. His journey in journalism spans over 18 years, with a special focus on family entertainment and educational content for children. Before his current role, he was a lead writer for a popular children's TV network, where he honed his skills in crafting engaging and informative stories.
His prior experience includes working as a scriptwriter for animated children’s shows, where he developed a knack for storytelling that resonates with young audiences. Outside work, he’s passionate about photography and exploring the outdoors with his family.

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