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Two-word taboo

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This activity works well for intermediate to advanced students. Set a time limit (20 minutes), at the end of which you give a prize to the winner.

Give each student in the group a small token, such as a toothpick or a button. Eight to ten or so people is a good size for the group.

Each student is to ask questions of the other students. If the person answers using the word "yes" or "no," then the questioner takes the token. A really good questioner will be able to collect several tokens from the other players within the time limit.

Students who have lost their tokens may continue to ask questions and try to win tokens.

This activity encourages students to elaborate beyond simple yes or no answers. It also encourages them to get someone so engrossed in a conversation that they are caught off guard when they forget not to say the two "taboo" words.

Be sure to tell students not to stay in pairs, but to ask questions of the whole group. Otherwise they'll just keep switching tokens and not gaining any more.

I tried this game once with heart-shaped beads. It added a whole new dimension to the game--"be careful not to say yes or no, or you will lose your heart to someone in the class!"

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