An age-old vocab revision game which is now a weekday afternoon TV game show here in Spain!
Place a chair at the front of the classroom, facing away from the board. Ask for a volunteer to come and sit in the chair, then explain to the class that you are going to write a word on the board that the volunteer can’t see. Each student can then say one word or a two-word phrase to help the volunteer guess the word. When that person guesses the word, the student who gave the last clue comes to the front and guesses the next word.
Playing in teams
This time, have two chairs at the front of the room and ask a student from each team to come to the front. After you have written the word on the board, a player from Team A can give the first clue and both guessers have one opportunity to say the correct word. Then a player from Team B gives a clue and so on. This time the first player to guess correctly wins a point for their team and the next two players in the team come to the front for the next word.
It’s always best to rub the word off the board after all the student have seen it.
Remind students that they can’t use any part of the word on the board: if the word to be guessed is school bag, they can’t say school as a clue.
Playing individually can make it less competitive as you can choose not to play for points, though a student might decide to suddenly “guess” the word when their friend gives them a clue after not knowing it before.
You may need to be quite strict on clues and say that any student who uses more than two words or uses L1 is eliminated from the next round.
The game works well with any level, though with younger learners you need to think about their vocabulary range to be able to give clues. It can be used for specific practice of a certain vocab set or as a five-minute, end-of-class game.
You might be surprised what your students come up with. When playing for the first time with an FCE group the other day I didn’t want to launch in with a phrasal verb on the first round, so I picked something easy interesting. Well, the clues they came up with included space, Chemistry, your necklace and about 15 other words before the poor girl guessed it!