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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Psychiatrists: a good game for practising questions

This is a well known game in Spain, but I had never thought of using it in class until my teenage students asked if they could play it. It is a typical group guessing game where some of the players know the rules but others are unaware and have to guess what is going on.

You will need to have the class sitting in a circle (or semi circle if you lack space). Some of the students must go out of the room while you explain how to play the game. These students are the "psychiatrists". These students must never have played the game before (it is better if they are stronger students). The others are patients. Tell the patients that they have an illness. This is usually that they think they are the person sitting to their right (but if you want to play the game on other occasions, change this every time e.g, the person sitting opposite, to the left, two to the right etc).

Then, invite the psychiatrists back into the room and tell them that they must diagnose their patients by asking questions. The patients must answer as if they were the person to their right, e.g to the question: Are you wearing jeans? If the person to your right is wearing jeans, say yes. Students must be careful not to look at this person as this will give the game away. If the patient does not know the answer to a question, they must shout "psychiatrist!" and everbody changes places. If a question is too revealing, any player can shout "psychiatrist" at which point everbody, again, changes seats.

The game continues until the psychiatrists correctly diagnose the illness.

This game can be played at any level; at higher levels make sure the students ask more complex questions using different tenses, the passive etc.


  1. That's a great game. I think I played it myself when I was a teenager, but had completely forgotten about it.

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  3. Another guessing game where the players have to work out the "rule" is Can I come to the party? You decide on a rule such as: you can only come to the party if you bring something that starts with the same letter as your name, or if you touch your nose before answering etc. Players take turns to ask if they can come e.g with the first rule a student named Pepe could say "I'm bringing beer" to which you answer, "No, you can't come" but when Barbara says the same thing, you say "Yes, you can come!". It's a good game to play at the beginning or end of a lesson to recycle vocabulary. You can make this more specific by telling them that they have to bring food, or wear certain clothes, or bring a present. It's great fun, but make sure it doesn't last too long, as those who have know idea what is going on can get bored. You can always give a couple of hints to speed things up if necessary


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