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ESL Icebreaker Game for High School: Human Bingo

Human Bingo is an exceptionally engaging and versatile icebreaker game that is ideal for high school ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms.

This activity not only serves as a fun way for students to get to know each other but also enhances their language skills through social interaction.

It can be adapted to various learning levels and is perfect for fostering a sense of community within the classroom.

ESL icebreaker human bingo

ESL Icebreaker – Human Bingo

We have loads of icebreaker games here on the site for all ages, you can check out the full list for adults on the link directly below but we also have icebreakers for kindergarten, primary and high school here which you can check out as well.

(Of course you can adapt all of them for your classrooms and students as needed)

How to Play

  • Game Setup: Create bingo cards with different traits, experiences, or language-related challenges in each square. Examples could include “has traveled to more than three countries,” “can name three Shakespeare plays,” or “speaks two languages.”
  • Basic Rules: Students are given a bingo card and move around the classroom, talking to their classmates to find someone who matches each criterion. When they find a match, that person signs or initials the corresponding square. The goal is to complete a line or, for a more extended game, fill the entire card.
  • Game Variations: To keep the game fresh, vary the themes of the bingo cards. They can be focused on cultural experiences, academic achievements, hobbies, or language skills.

Educational Benefits

  • Promotes Interpersonal Skills: Students practice initiating conversations and asking questions, crucial skills in language development.
  • Enhances Listening and Speaking Skills: As students interact, they practice both listening and speaking in English, which is vital for language acquisition.
  • Encourages Cultural Awareness: By learning about their classmates’ experiences and backgrounds, students gain a broader understanding of different cultures.
  • Adaptable for Language Practice: The criteria on the bingo cards can be tailored to include specific vocabulary, grammatical structures, or language functions.

Resources Needed

  • Bingo Cards: Prepared in advance with a variety of statements or questions. These can be printed or even digitally shared.
  • Writing Utensils: For students to mark their cards.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: The game typically lasts about 15-20 minutes but can be adjusted depending on the class size and the complexity of the bingo criteria.
  • Pace: Encourage students to engage in at least a brief conversation with each person they approach for a signature, rather than just focusing on filling the card as quickly as possible.
  • Group Size: This game is flexible and works well with any class size.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Use simpler criteria focused on basic language skills and personal experiences that don’t require complex language to explain.
  • For Intermediate Students: Include criteria that encourage longer interactions or the use of specific language structures.
  • For Advanced Students: Challenge students with criteria that require more in-depth conversation, use of idiomatic expressions, or complex grammatical structures.


Human Bingo is an excellent tool for breaking the ice in high school ESL classrooms. It provides an enjoyable and interactive way for students to practice their language skills while learning about each other.

This game can be a stepping stone to building a more connected and communicative classroom environment, making it an invaluable addition to any language teacher’s toolkit.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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