Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Today I saw tutor Sonja Oetzel working with her learner. She used a game called Guess Who? to practice the speaking skill of question formation. I thought it was a great idea and wanted to share it with you. I've put a photo of the game below, as it might help explain how it works. Two players get duplicate sets of pictures. Each is a head shot of a cartoon person with a name. They then take turns asking questions, such as, "Is your person a man or a woman? Does he have a moustache? Does she wear a hat?" and so on. By process of elimination you figure out which person the other player has.

Forming questions in English is more complex than in Spanish and many other languages, because one has to use a helping verb in most cases, e.g. "Do you have a nickel?" "Can I get this in plaid?" or "Did she come early today?" Repetitive practice is a great way to learn a skill like this one.

The game is available through Amazon for $10 and up for a used copy, not to mention resale shops and, in warmer days, rummage sales. The website "Instructables.com" gives you instructions on how to make a personalized version, using photos of people you know. That seems like a bit of work, but fun for people who like DIY projects. For those who don't, Gregg Williard suggests making your own cards with 20 stick figures, photocopying them and cutting them out.

Finally, consider simply playing "20 Questions," which can still be done for free with no hard to find resources, except of course time. "Were there but world enough and time..." Kudos to Sonja, This Week's Favorite Tutor! Happy Thanksgiving.

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