Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

Ellen DeGeneres’ New iPhone/iPad Game Is Great For ELLs & You Can Use The Idea & Play Without Tech, Too


Ellen DeGeneres has just unveiled a great new iPhone/iPad games called Heads Up! that is perfect for English Language Learners. However, according to TechCrunch, it’s just a high-tech version of an old party game called “Who Am I?” where people had names of celebrities written on index cards put on their foreheads and other people had to give them hints until the card-holder guessed who it was.

Maybe I just haven’t hung-out in the same crowd, but I had never heard of that game. And, of course, it can be adapted to include lots of other words (as Ellen’s game uses, like animals, etc.).

Here’s a video of her playing the game on her show:

I can see my students playing this in pairs or in threes, with two people coming up with the word and each having to take turns giving clues. What a wonderful activity for vocabulary practice and conversation!

I’m assuming there are other ESL/ELL teachers who aren’t as ignorant as me and who have tried a game like this in your class. How is it received?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. You’re right – it’s a classic. never fails. neat variation is the card-wearer has to ask well-formed questions to get responses from classmates. So, some basic question structures need a little well thought out review.

  2. It’s a great game, Larry. I’ve used it with elementary kids where the character is from literature eg Red Riding Hood, Willy Wonka. I’ve also used it with ESL kids where the name was actually someone in the class’s English name. With adults, I’ve had each of them wear a name on a sticky label, and mill around trying to work out who they are. Another parameter to introduce to make it more difficult is to have the rule that answers must be only yes/no.

  3. Hey Larry,

    If I am not mistaken, the game appears in one of the classic ‘game books’ for ESL/EFL and is called Celebrity Heads.

    Kind regards,


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