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?

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