Forbidden Words

45 minutes Online activity
Forbidden Words
Learning Outcomes

Students will learn about active listening and how it can contribute to higher results. This activity will also show how to use effective communication in order to get things done.

Resources & Preparation Needed
  • Timer/Stopwatch
  • Cards with words 
  • Coins or paper + pen to keep score
  • [optional] Prize for the winning team

Divide the class into teams of max. 4 students and connect 2 groups to compete with each other. If possible, let them split up in separate rooms. If this is not possible, use each corner of the classroom.  

Divide the pile of words (or print them multiple times) which needs to be described by the students and place them upside down with each group. 

The groups will take turns “one at the time”, in which each turn a different person comes forward (the “describer”). 

The “describer” takes the first card and stands in front of the team to describe the word. Now the teammates (the identifiers) need to identify and guess which word is meant by the describer. 

Each turn takes 1 minute. The describer can continue describing new cards/words as long the time hasn’t passed. Once the time has passed, the describer appoints a new “describer” in the competing group. The new describer comes forward and starts describing words.  

For each guessed word the team earns a point. 

After time is up all groups come back together in the classroom and tell their score to the teacher. The group with the highest points wins!


  • It is forbidden to mime.
  • It is forbidden to mention the word itself or parts of it.  
  • It is forbidden to mention abbreviations.
  • It is forbidden to translate.
  • It is forbidden to use words which are derived from the original word or ‘sounds-like’ or ‘rhymes-with’ words.
  • It is forbidden to point at something or someone and it is forbidden to impersonate someone/mock. 
Ideas For Reflection
  • What did you do to activate your listening skills?
  • How good do you think your listening skills are? 
  • How is time pressure related to your listening performance?
  • What could have been done better?
Extra Material

This activity is based on 2 similar games:
Game #1
Game #2