The lying game

Happy New Year everyone! This week we have a guest post from an old friend of mine who I used to work with in Birmingham about 20 years ago. Jon Turner now lives in UAE and has been volunteering once a week with children in Palestine. I really like his take on the traditional 2 truths and a lie activity and have since tried it out myself very successfully with my own groups in Gaza and Zaatari. Over to you Jon!

Ussain Bolt is an inspiration for many, but I was surprised when he turned out to be an inspiration for a fun info gap activity to run with students in Palestine.  I got an advertising video shared onto my Facebook wall, which turned out to be an advert for an online poker site. The interesting thing was it was all about Ussain Bolt keeping a ‘poker face’ while he ‘bluffed’ or told the truth about something he could see but which the guy standing in front of him (a comic I think), couldn’t. Of course Bolt was terrible at the game, he kept cracking up and the comic was able to play loads of mind games to keep him guessing. You can see the video here

It just so happened I was searching around for something to do on Zoom with Atiyyeh and his students and I realized that teleconference is the perfect medium for a game like this. So we watched the video of Bolt, which was a really high language level, but because the task was just to get a sense of the game it did the job. Then we played. I would describe a purple pencil case, that turned out to be a brown mug and so on and so forth.

The students reacted really well to the game and were able to participate with some help from Atiyyeh. Like so many of the classes it turned into a kind of community language learning approach, with Atiyyeh acting as intermediary between me and the students, with some judicious Arabic use. We had to rely on reading each other’s facial expressions a lot and that was what injected the fun into the session. Keeping a poker face is hard work! This activity showed that even lower level students can engage in cognitively stimulating tasks and that the info gap activities may have been around for a long time, but that’s because they work!  

One thought on “The lying game

  1. I actually used this game today with a new group in Jabalia as a lead in to a story about the power of imagination. I think it’s an interesting twist on the old favourite ELT activity of ‘Two truths and a lie’. What I like about this one particularly is that you can reveal the object afterwards so you get a kind of ‘Aha!’ moment. As you say Jon, it’s perfect for doing through simple video conferencing tools, probably works better than in face to face settings in fact. Thanks a lot for sharing it.


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