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Mechanics – The Truth Cards

At first glance, many teachers guess that participants are required to make a sentence using the prompts on the Truth Cards. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Truth Cards work on the principle of free association. Aristotle, Plato, Avicenna along with the Tweedledee and Tweedledum of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, all recognized the power of word associations. So did yours truly but perhaps that’s the only point of convergence ;-]

Truth Card Target Levels

Let me illustrate by example. At a recent conference one of the student volunteers dropped by the table and, after a short chat, asked me how the game works. Rather than drone out an explanation that would probably slip him into a coma I asked him to pick a card, any card. The one he selected said simply “Water”. Next I asked him to think back and recall any experiences in his past related to the prompt. With that he started telling me about the lake in front of the family hut back home in Indonesia. First he told me about how he taught himself to swim in the lake as a child of eight or nine years old. Then he went on to describe the importance of the lake to his family and other families in the village. Their drinking water comes from the lake and they wash their clothes and bathe in the lake. People fish for food and irrigate their crops with water from the lake. We could have gone much further but from a single one-word prompt he drew an incredibly vivid picture of a highly personal experience in a matter of 30 seconds.

Therein lies the power of word associations and that power is at the heart of Truth or Dare for English Language Learners. So here we have an anecdote within an anecdote illustrating how anecdote drives the game forward. Succinct, huh?

Mechanics – The Spinner

Your Turn!

The spinner works as a randomizer in much the same way as the bottle in the game “Spin the Bottle”. Random turn-taking is preferable to working successively around the table as students will tend to zone out in the latter scenario once their turn has been taken, tuning back in as their turn approaches once again. With random turn-taking participants never know when they will be required to respond and thus pay closer attention at all times.

Mechanics – Assessment

Tally Up

Truth or Dare can be used as a self- or peer-assessment vehicle as well. Participants can use a scrap of paper or a more formalized hand-out like the downloadable below to track each time targets are met, reporting performance back with roll call at the end of the session. This a good way to build up both participation and performance grades over the course of the session while keeping participants focused on targets during gameplay.

Download: Peer Assessment Form

Mechanics – The Mini-Whiteboard

Target Targeted

Integrated into the spinner, the mini-whiteboard is used to set language or other targets. For instance, gameplay can be used to practice recently acquired grammar points such as conditionals or modal auxiliaries or verb tenses. Alternately, encourage extensive talking with timed goals ranging from 30 seconds to several minutes. Another use of the mini-whiteboard is to encourage the use of contractions or to task those on the sidelines to practice specific question types. Be sure to use bona fide whiteboard markers to avoid permanently marking the spinner.

Mechanics – The Dare Cards

Dare to Be

Sometimes questions are a little too probing and personal; sometimes the situation calls for a little bit of silliness and levity. Call it an escape clause but that’s where the Dare Cards come in. For whatever reason, participants can always opt to perform a “Dare” rather than submit to the “Truth”.

Mechanics – Word Associations

Truth or Dare Gameplay Schematic

Word Associations are so much a part of our daily lives that, for the most part, we just ignore them. They guide conversations forward and we’ve even come up with handy little conversational gambits to leverage the power of word associations in the tug and pull of everyday discourse. Phrases like “That reminds me…” or “Speaking of…” enable us to capture a conversation and selfishly take it in a new direction. In Truth or Dare for English Language Learners word associations come front and center, driving the game forward. Prompts first reverberate at a linguistic level but immediately catch on the experiential. Those associated memories then become the raw material for classroom discourse, a broader retelling, journal assignments and more.