Sentence Guessing Game Activity

Speaking Game: Sentence Guessing Activity (ESL/EFL)

Min. # of Students:3
Activity Strengths:Review, warm-up, entertaining, and communicative
ESL/EFL Level:Intermediate to Advanced
Duration:10-15 minutes

Basic Speaking Game Idea: Students try to get one of their classmates (Student A) to elicit a sentence written on the board. Student A is seated with his/her back to the board, unable to see the sentence. The other students must get Student A to say the sentence, completely, by using synonyms, alternative descriptions, and other clues.

Speaking Game Preparation: Go through your class notes and pick some expressions (e.g. “kill two birds with one stone”), vocabulary (e.g. “hire”, “ethnic”) or grammar items (“hardly ever”) you’d like to review next class. Then, make some interesting sentences with them, for example:  “I killed two birds with one stone. / “A month after I was hired, I was fired.” / “I rarely eat ethnic cuisine.” Get creative. Bring the list to class.

Speaking Game Execution:

  1. Pick one student from the group (“Student A”) and seat him/her at the front of the class, with his/her back to the board.
  2. Write the easiest of the sentences you prepared on the board, e.g. “I killed two birds with one stone.”
  3. Tell the other students that they have to make Student A say the complete sentence on the board. Tell them the game rules: they can only use use English and they cannot repeat any of the key words in the sentence to Student A.

That’s it. The students may think it’ll be hard at first, but they’ll soon get into the game. Be sure to give the easier sentences to the lower-level students. Let each student have a turn at the speaking game. My students seem to enjoy this speaking activity. If you have a large class, the game can be played in team vs team format as well by putting one student from each team at the front of the class. The first team to get their student at the front to elicit the sentence wins the speaking game.

Have fun.
– Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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5 comments on “Sentence Guessing Game Activity

  1. Vanessa (Posted on 3-30-2016 at 13:28) Reply

    I killed two birds with one stone/A month after I was hired, I was fired/ I rarely eat ethnic cuisine…..are these really the best examples you have to provide in a teaching lesson?? What types of values are you transmitting? Peace and respect for nature, trust in future and multiculturalism maybe!!!

    And you want us to donate for supporting you!!

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-30-2016 at 15:27) Reply

      Relax. To ‘kill two birds with one stone’ is an common English idiom (that also exists in other languages). The other sentences were taken from expressions used in class (hence, this being a ‘review activity’).

      I teach adults. They are capable of coping with the harsh realism found in statements about someone losing their job or not eating ethnic cuisine regularly.

      No birds were hurt in the composition of this post.

      1. Keryl (Posted on 4-8-2016 at 06:33) Reply

        Haha great response!

        Its crazy that some people feel more compelled to complain and to crticize than to thank and praise after all the amazing work you folks are doing here!

        A million thanks!

    2. cmt (Posted on 4-29-2017 at 04:39) Reply

      Sheesh, Vanessa. These are just examples and this is an excellent activity idea. Adults in many cultures have no problem with these concepts, and if something is culturally inappropriate or not advisable based on your students, you can change the examples.

  2. robert kelly (Posted on 12-15-2019 at 21:49) Reply

    great warmer idea thanks,

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