Describe-and-Guess Game

A very simple game that is good for improving your speaking in a language is simply to think of something and then try to describe it without saying what it is, while your partner tries to guess. There are various ways to formalise this, but I think its best to just keep it simple and casual so you can play it wherever.

You need a bit of basic language ability for this. Specifically you want to be able to describe things and use adjectives, and have a bit of vocab around this type of thing. Other useful words/sentence structures you might like to use and practice are:

  • say something is -er than something else – e.g. the thing is bigger or smaller than this other thing
  • say something is like something else
  • say what something is used for e.g. the thing is used for cutting
  • say something is a type of something e.g. the thing is a type of fruit

If you know you are going to play the game, you can learn or brush up on these types of sentence structures beforehand so that you can really practice them.

I think it is probably more fun with a limited vocabulary than as a fluent speaker, because then you have to be really creative and can say quite ridiculous things. For example:

  • Me describing snails – it is a small creepy crawly, it is very slow, it is like a rock, they live on land and in water
  • Me describing a hedgehog – it is an animal, it is like a ball, it has needles in its skin

If you’re playing with a partner who is learning the same language as you, or already speaks it, then you just think of something, and try and describe it, and your partner tries to guess.

If you’re on a long car drive with people who don’t speak your target language, like I was, you can think of the sentences in Māori and then say them in English but you can only say exactly what you can say in Māori!

You can still play this totally by yourself but obviously you can’t guess. Its still good practice to try and come up with descriptions.

It can be surprisingly hard to think of something to describe, because you keep trying to choose something “good”. So if you have vocab cards around you can use them, or open a dictionary or any kind of book and choose the first noun on the page, or do it like ispy where you choose something you can see.



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