Here’s a good game to work on circumlocution. It’s a simple game, but there are several possible variations. I work circumlocution early in the year and use this game at that time, but I also pull it out throughout the year. It was appropriate for today because I wanted to do something with a lot of language input after our days of testing. To maintain a high quantity and quality of language used, I did most of the talking. I call it “la silla caliente”.
Purpose: To expose students to circumlocution
Materials: Power point slides or cards with lists of words in English that students probably do not know in the Target Language. A timer. Here is a Power Point presentation with many slides of 5 terms each:
Gameplay: There are many ways to play all based around the same idea: A student trying to determine a word or phrase based on clues in the Target Language.
- Divide class into teams (2-3 is best)
- One person sits in a chair at the front of the room facing away from the screen/board.
- The teacher faces the student and screen.
- 5 terms are projected on the screen in English. The teacher sees them. The student does not.
- The teacher describes the terms in the TL while the student guesses as many as he/she can in a given amount of time (2 minutes works well)
- The teacher cannot say proper nouns, use English, gesture or say the term in the Target Language (If the term is “monkey bars”, he cannot say “mono”).
- The number of correct guesses is the number of points awarded to each team.
- It can be an individual game. Students play to see who can guess 5 terms in the shortest amount of time.
- If the terms are on cards, the teacher can describe to an entire group at once. Although I have found more value with one student at a time playing because the others see the words and hear my circumlocution .
- Students can be the speaker. This provides great circumlocution speaking practice, but the quality of input is reduced and students tend to instinctively break the “no proper nouns” rule.
- The terms can be in the Target Language if they are familiar to the students