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Guessing games

One of the best things to come out of the communicative movement in language teaching was the notion of the "information gap". Give pupils a reason to communicate and they will, the theory goes. So if you design a task for pairs where one person has information the other needs to find out, you should get communication. The best books to exploit this idea in French were the Tu Parles and Tu Parles Encore by Vee Harris and Liz Roselman. Alas they are no longer in print, but should be slightly updated and reprinted.

A really simple way to set up minimal preparation information gap tasks is to do guessing games. We know how much children of all ages like these - just think how much mileage you can get out of "guess the flashcard" routines and "battleships". Here are five reinforcing/revision guessing games for pairs.

1.  Weekend dernier

For low intermediates. Get each partner to write down five invented activities they did over the last weekend. Each partner has to guess what the other person did by asking yes/no questions. Encourage students to come up with original or wacky ideas. Good for practising the perfect tense.

2.  Liste d'achats

For near beginners. Each person writes down a list of ten items they are going to buy at the supermarket. Each partner has to guess the other's list.

3.  "Dumb customer"

Any level. Again, based on a shopping list or just a list of words. Each partner has a list and has to explain what is on their list by using gesture, no words. Good for revising vocabulary at various levels.

4.  Projets de vacances

Intermediate. Each partner lists ten things they are going to do during the next holiday. Partners use yes/no questions to work out the other person's list. Good for future or immediate future tense.

5. Proverbes

Advanced. Display, in two columns, a list of, say, 16 proverbs or sayings in the target language on the board. Alternatively provide a handout with the proverbs written in two columns. Make sure students understand them, preferably by explaining them in the TL. You could translate them if you want to get on to the pair work quickly. The advantage of using the TL is that students already hear a model of how to explain the sayings.

Then, each partner chooses five proverbs or sayings which they attempt to exemplify or explain whilst the the person tries to guess what they are. Partners could prompt each other for further information. Good for general creative use of language at a higher level.


You could easily come up with other guessing games. They are great for filling in some time, plenaries or revision. They often give useful practice of question forms too.

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