Speechless

No words …

People have probably been playing charades at parties since long before crabsticks were invented.  Speechless is like a hardcore version of charades, but with more giggles and a couple of extra rules to organise the fun – GREAT for vocab review.

PRACTICE:
  • vocabulary review

WHO IS IT FOR?

  • Level (CEFR B1-C2)
  • Ages 12 and up

The game comes with 3 sets of cards (coloured green, yellow and red) with each card having 2 words printed on it.  The box doubles as a handy stand and holder for these cards, whilst also containing the game’s sets of dry-wipe markers and tablets, as well as a little timer.  The words on the cards are colour-coded in terms of their difficulty to mime: green being easy-peasy and red being extra tough.

Players must take it in turns to battle against the clock and mime their six words to the other players, who are also forbidden from speaking. They must write down what they think each of the words, one to six, is being mimed.  At the end of the time, a correct guess bags the guesser 2 points, but the the fun twist is that if 2 non-miming players write the same word for one of their answers, then they each score a point for their answer.

For the EFL classroom, straight out of the box this game makes for a really fun warmer or end-of-lesson filler.  After I’d used it a couple of times, the game’s format presented a really nice opportunity to recycle some vocabulary that we had covered over the past semester.  To do this, I gave the students a word list of the language that I wanted to review.  For the sake of simplicity, I had narrowed this down to single words, omitting multi-word phrases.  I then divided this list up, giving a selection to each group of 3 students.  Each group got some green, yellow and red-coloured cards and their task was to classify these words into how hard they thought they would be to mime.  The hardest items they wrote on red cards and the easiest on the green, making sure that each card had two words written on them.

This classification activity in itself was a fantastic way to review the words, as it really focussed the students on the meaning and they has to do some serious mental gymnastics to decide how on earth they could mime the word, if at all.  At the end of this task, each group has prepared a bunch of DIY vocab cards that were specifically tailored to recent vocabulary.  The next lesson, once I had given them the whole list to look over for homework, we kicked off with a 20 minute game of speechless using the DIY card sets.

BEAR IN MIND:

  • You need a fairly easy-going group to be able to use speechless as it does involve standing up and making a bit of a fool of oneself.  I was surprised though at how involved even the older students got.
  • Because of this point above, it’s important to signpost this task properly, being clear to emphasise that thinking about using vocabulary is just as productive as actually using it.  Once the students appreciate this, you’re likely to get much more enthusiastic buy-in for the activity.

SUMMARY:

Speechless has such a beautifully simple concept and it works wonderfully in the classroom.  Having the tablets and cards is excellent, but using recent and relevant vocabulary makes it an even more valuable addition to the TEFLGaming teacher’s toolkit.  Sold!

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