| | | | |

ESL Icebreaker Game for High School: Silent Line-Up

“Silent Line-Up” is an innovative and engaging icebreaker game ideal for high school ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms.

This activity uniquely combines non-verbal communication with team-building, challenging students to collaborate without using spoken language.

It serves as an excellent exercise in fostering teamwork, understanding non-verbal cues, and promoting a sense of unity among students.

Esl icebreaker Silent line up game

ESL Icebreaker – Silent Line up

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: Define a specific criterion for the line-up, such as birth month, height, shoe size, or alphabetical order of first or last names.
  • Basic Rules: Students must organize themselves in line according to the chosen criterion, but they are not allowed to speak. They must rely on non-verbal communication, such as hand signals, written notes, or gestures, to determine each other’s positions.
  • Game Variations: To increase the challenge, the teacher can impose additional constraints, such as prohibiting writing or limiting the types of gestures allowed. The game can also be timed to add a sense of urgency.

Educational Benefits

  • Enhances Non-Verbal Communication Skills: Students learn to convey and interpret information without words, which is a crucial aspect of effective communication.
  • Promotes Teamwork and Collaboration: The game requires students to work together to achieve a common goal, enhancing their cooperative skills.
  • Develops Problem-Solving Abilities: Students must think creatively to overcome the challenge of not speaking, fostering their problem-solving skills.
  • Fosters Classroom Community: Participating in a collective task helps build a sense of camaraderie and mutual understanding among students.

Resources Needed

  • No Special Equipment Required: The game relies solely on the students’ ability to communicate non-verbally.
  • Optional: Timer and Whiteboard: To keep track of time and for students to write clues if permitted.

Playtime Guidelines

  • Duration: The game typically lasts 10-15 minutes but can be adjusted depending on the complexity of the task and the size of the class.
  • Pace: The pace can vary; the teacher can set a relaxed atmosphere or create a more dynamic environment by introducing a time limit.
  • Group Size: Ideal for medium to large groups, as it gives students more opportunities to interact with different classmates.

Adapting to Different Learning Levels

  • For Beginners: Choose simpler criteria for lining up and allow the use of written words or numbers for communication.
  • For Intermediate Students: Introduce more challenging criteria and limit the types of non-verbal communication allowed.
  • For Advanced Students: Incorporate abstract criteria, such as lining up by the level of interest in a particular topic, and impose stricter communication constraints.


Silent Line-Up” is a unique and valuable game in the high school ESL classroom, offering an alternative approach to team-building and communication.

It emphasizes the importance of non-verbal cues and cooperation, skills that are essential in both language learning and interpersonal interactions.

This game not only breaks the ice but also strengthens the bonds between students, creating a more unified and engaged learning community.

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.

Similar Posts

Always welcome thoughts and comments, new blogs can be lonely!!