Guessing game

23rd May 2003 at 01:00
Growing up in America, I loved the TV game show Password. I have adapted it to use at the end of term.

Split the class into two teams and place them towards the back of the classroom well away from the board. Each team sends up one member to sit with his or her back to the board. The teacher writes the word to be guessed on the board and invites each team to provide a password for their team member to help them guess the word on the board. The team needs to select one person who will give the password and they must agree to give their suggestions to that person alone, otherwise it becomes a howling jamboree of noise and words. You are not allowed to use foreign words, proper names, make hand gestures or animal noises - or any sort of hints when delivering the word. I usually give them 15 seconds.

You begin by allocating 10 points for the word and each wrong answer loses a point. The passwords go back and forth between the teams until you hit the bottom. When the word is guessed a new team member is selected and the game continues until the end of the session, when the winner is declared.

When pupils guess part of the word (for example, "swim" instead of "swimmer"), I tell them they have given a form of the word and they have one chance to give the correct word.

Languages teachers could conduct the whole game in the target language, perhaps using phrases instead of words for clues.

The game is very popular and the level of intensity generated in the class is almost frightening to behold.

Bob Matthews, head of English, Westfield School, Newcastle on Tyne.

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