The aim of Mafia is for the students to root out who is Mafia before the Mafia kill all the Citizens.
I first came across Mafia this year while teaching in Spain. It quickly became popular with students and like some of the other games that can be found in the teens section it acted as a great incentive and reward for students.
Mafia can be daunting the first time you play it but after the students get the hang of it, they will soon be requesting it again and again.
I have used this activity in summer camps with as many as 24 students with great success but I would recommend it with smaller groups of 10 – 12.

Activity Time:  15 – 20 mins +
Materials required: One character card per student
Pre-teach vocabulary: accuse, accusation, investigate, 
Number of students: 10 +
Skills practiced: Listening and speaking.
Level: Intermediate and above

Method: 1. Print out the character cards on card and laminate if you can as this game can be reused. 2. Tell the students that they are each going to receive a card. They must not tell anyone what is on their card. Tell them that they must find who are mafia before the mafia kill all the citizens. The doctor can save one person per round and the police officer can investigate one person per round.

3. Give each student a card.

4. Tell the students to “go to sleep”and close their eyes. You can say “citizens of ________ go to sleep”

5.  Ask the Mafia to wake up and choose who they are going to kill. When they have selected a person by nodding or pointing tell them to “go back asleep”

6. Next invite the Doctor to “save someone”. Again like the Mafia this will be done in silence. When they have chosen tell them to go back to sleep.

7. Then ask the police officer to “wake up” and choose who they would like to investigate. They chose in silence and you nod and agree whether they are or are not Mafia.

8. Next say “Citizens of _____ wake up! Last night there was a brutal murder and ______ was killed. We know there are 4 Mafia amongst you. Who do you want to accuse?”

9. Invite students to guess who they think is Mafia. The first round is usually quiet because anyone can be Mafia, however by the second round students quickly become more vocal and accusations fly around the room. Remember Mafia must defend themselves and avoid being detected. People who are killed in the rounds cannot participate in the accusations or give any information that may let the other know

10. Continue until either the Mafia or Citizens win.

After you have played this game the first time, the students become more active and interested in the game. It may sound complicated at first but it gets easier after your first attempt. As you are the teacher you can add any of your own elements as you like. Please leave any suggestions or comments below. Enjoy!

Printable:  View Download

Game originally seen here but without the character cards which I made to give a finished touch to the game.

Creative Commons License ESL Kids Games by David Mulcahy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at

Updated: 17 February 2022


  1. I love the game mafia, but I fail to see how we can make this educational

  2. Notice me senpai

  3. This is a rubbish game!!!!??????

  4. For ESL students this game is useful as some of them are afraid to speak English. That’s why every game that let students to overcome their fears and feel more confident in speaking is good.

  5. Thanks for this game. I’ve heard about it numerous times before but I haven’t played it yet because the set up always seemed too complicated and time consuming.
    This guide, however, seems pretty easy to follow and the only piece of preparation is printing out the papers.

    • Hi Jakub,
      I would agree that this game can be a little time consuming but it can be very motivating as students really enjoy it. I use it as a reward for hard work and they love it.

  6. Lol I’m Korean but me and my friends play mafia all the time!

  7. Does the police officer reveal their choice ? Does that person participate in the accusations?

  8. Oh great so the first thing we teach ESL students is who to kill? This game is completely inappropriate in a school setting.

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