Becoming a Better Learner: Develop your fluency playing Taboo

Becoming a Better Learner: Develop your fluency playing Taboo

Nick Michelioudakis’ new column Becoming a Better Learner suggests ideas and techniques to engage, empower, and facilitate your students through a series of simple, low-prep activities. This month, our favourite Taboo is in the spotlight!

‘Taboo’ is a great game to practise your ability to paraphrase—that is, to explain to others what you mean even if you do not know some words. Here is how you play it: Here is how you play it:
  • You need a partner to play this game.
  • Google ‘Play Taboo Online Now’ and click on the site.
  • What you will see is a card with a word at the top and some more words underneath.
  • You need to describe or explain the meaning of the word at the top to your partner, so they can guess it without using any derivatives, e.g. ‘friend’ – ‘friendly’.
  • In addition, you must not use any of the other words given on the card, as these words are taboo.
  • You have one minute to do this. Your partner has as many guesses as they want.
  • If your partner finds the word, you score a point.

For instance, in the case of the card above, you could say: It is the name of a scientist. He is the most famous scientist ever. He was a physicist. His theories have to do with movement, space, and time.

If a card is too difficult, just click on ‘next’. Enjoy! 

Nick Michelioudakis (B. Econ., Dip. RSA, MScTEFL) has been active in ELT for many years as a teacher, examiner, presenter, and teacher trainer. He has worked for a number of publishers and examination boards and he has given seminars and workshops in many countries.

He has written extensively on Methodology, though he is better known for his ‘Psychology and ELT’ articles which have appeared in numerous newsletters and magazines.

His areas of interest include Student Motivation, Learner Independence, Teaching one-to-one, and Humour. For articles or worksheets of his, you can visit his YouTube channel [] or his blog [ ].

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