DESCRIBE YOUR CLASSMATE GAME
Today I would like to speak about an amusing game activity to provide
practice in describing what people are wearing and/or what they look like today or in
general. It entails writing, reading, or speaking, and listening and is best used after
learners have mastered the grammar and vocabulary of such construction as:
She/he is tall/short, etc.
She/he has short/long/straight hair, etc.
She/he is wearing a blouse/sweater/skirt, etc.
The aim of the activity is for learners to provide increasingly
specific statements in order that they may apply to a decreasing number of learners. The
final statement is then such that only one learner is identified.
If the language instructor has a class of girls and boys, the learner chosen for
identification may be a girl with long, dark hair wearing jeans and glasses, for example.
The task of the language instructor is to demonstrate how the game works. Therefore he/she
needs to have prepared his/her statements before the learners. The procedure for him/her
is as follows:
Step 1. Have all the students stand up.
Step 2. Explain that they are going to hear statements that
describe different details of one particular learner. If a detail does not apply to them,
they must sit down. For example, if you say, “this learner is a girl”, all the boys
sit down. If you say, “this learner has long hair”, all learners who do not have long
hair sit down.
Step 3. Having made sure that all the learners understand the
principle, you then proceed to make your statements, which cause all the learners except
the one chosen to sit down. You might make statements such as these:
1. This learner is a girl. (All the boys sit down.)
2. This learner has long hair. (All learners not having long hair sit down.)
3. This learner has dark hair. (All those learners not having dark hair sit down.)
4. This learner is wearing jeans. (All those learners not wearing jeans sit down.)
5. This learner is wearing glasses. (All learners not wearing glasses sit down.)
The only learner left standing is the girl with long dark hair wearing
jeans and glasses.
Then the language instructor asks his/her learners to choose a fellow learner to describe,
but tells them to try not to make it obvious whom they have chosen. This alone is amusing
in itself, because learners try to pretend not to be looking at someone. Then the language
instructor tells them to try to do what he/she has just done, but they must do it with
only five statements, so that after they have made those statements, only one learner is
The learners then write their five statements, which may take about 10
minutes, during which the language instructor needs to go round. Then all learners stand
up again and the game starts with one learner chosen to come to the front and make his
statement. This must be done without referring to what has been prepared in writing.
He or she then makes his/her statement. If after the five statements
are made, only one learner is left standing, the learner has been successful. If, however,
after the five statements, nobody or more than one is left standing, the learner has made
Providing the class is not too big one you can give each learner a
turn. Otherwise, one is obliged to restrict the number of turns to prevent the game being
An interesting modification to the game entails the introduction of
negative statements. The game then becomes more demanding in terms of listening
comprehension. For example, a statement might be “This learner is not wearing jeans”.
This means that those learners who are wearing jeans must sit down. This might sound quite
easy; however, it’s surprising how confusing it can be.
One can have the statements all affirmative, all negative, or a mixture
of both. In my personal view, the latter is the most demanding and challenging.
I have tried this game-like activity a number of times and it has
proved to be amusing and stimulating.
By Natalya Predtechenskaya