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A Variation of Chinese Whisper Listening Exercise

A Variation of Chinese Whisper Listening Exercise


Purpose

This is an interesting variation of the infamous Chinese Whisper exercise. In this variation, some volunteers leave the room and then be brought back in, rather than just whispering a sentence in the ear of the person next to them. This allows an audience to observe and hear all the intermediate statements so they can see how information exchange deteriorates in each step. You can then use this as an opportunity to teach about listening skills or communication in general.

This listening exercise is ideal for communication skills and teamwork where you can focus on feedback as a critical mechanism to make sure communication is carried out accurately.

Objective

Listen to a statement and then relay it as best as you can to the next person in front of an audience.

What You Need

  • Several prepared statements. These should be about two sentences long. Print them all on a sheet for your reference. You can prepare separate sheets for each statement for distribution to delegates.

Setup

  • Ask for 7 volunteers. Explain that this will be a roleplay and they should be comfortable with it.
  • Ask 6 of them to leave the class and stay outside. They should not be able to hear what is stated in the class.
  • Read the statement to the seventh delegate and the audience and ask the volunteer to memorise it as best as possible.
  • Ask the volunteer to go out and bring in one person.
  • Ask the volunteer to state as much of the statement remembered to the new person.
  • The new person, upon hearing the statement, should memorise it and then go out to bring the next person in.
  • Ask the current person to repeat the statement (or as much of it as is remembered) to the new person.
  • Get the volunteers to continue with this sequence until all six volunteers have been brought in.
  • Make sure everyone focuses on that last statement so it can be compared.
  • Next, show the original statement on a slide or distribute a sheet to the delegates so they can see the original.
  • Expect much amusement and laughter as no doubt, the final statement will look very different from the original. Explain that this is known as the Chinese Whisper.
  • Ask the volunteers to share their experience with the class. Use this as an opportunity to teach about listening skills.
  • Follow with a discussion.

Timing

Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 10 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes

Discussion

Did the final statement differ a lot from the original? Did this difference match your expectation or exceed it? What does it suggest? What can you do to make sure such deterioration does not happen? What do you think of this variation of Chinese Whisper?