Just the Facts is a simple game where students practice speaking and listening. It’s fun, too, and can be used as a warm up activity to introduce a particular topic in the lesson. If done in this way, it will also help introduce students to a new area of study and also allow the teacher to understand what their students know already about the area of study.
The activity is very flexible in that you can adapt the basic idea to suit your way of teaching and different scenarios. What is presented here is the basic idea.
To begin with you need a topic to discuss. This could be drawn at random from a pile of flashcards you have prepared earlier, or it could be related to a new topic you’d like the class to think about.
(Before the lesson you should check out about the subject at least online to get a few facts yourself. If the internet won’t be available in class, it’s often wise to have a few hardcopy resources on the subject to use for checking later.)
For example, suppose your class is going to watch a video documentary about Spain. You can simply give your class a few minutes to think about (but not write down) what they know about Spain in preparation to telling the rest of the class a fact about the country. For this you might want to get the class into small groups so they can share what they know and help each other out – in English of course!
NB here you might want to offer the students resource material to find out about the subject, e.g. encyclopedias or the internet, etc.
Running the Activity
Have the class stand in a circle. Each student then, in turn, has to say a simple fact about the topic. For example:
Spain can be hot.
Spain is in Europe.
Picasso was born in Spain.
And so on, around and around the circle.
To begin with it is fairly straightforward, however there can be no repetition and so your students have to think on their feet (literally) and keep producing facts. Sooner or later someone will either not be able to come up with something new or they will say something that may or may not be true:
Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are Spanish.
At this point another student might challenge the statement saying that Penelope Cruz is Spanish but Javier Bardem is Mexican. If you are playing the game informally this can lead to a discussion of the “fact” or if you play the game as a team game, it can mean winning or losing points.
Is it True?
Suppose someone in the class says this:
Bullfighting was invented in Spain.
and it is challenged. You need to find the truth. At this point you can check back with those resources the class used earlier. Of course having a smartphone with an internet connection helps here a lot!
Variations on a Theme
After the game is over you might want to check back over the “facts” and ask your class if anyone invented something from thin air. You’ll often find a student tell you that what they said was completely made up!
The population of Spain is 55 million.
If no one challenged the statement during the game then after it’s all over you can check up on this and award extra points for unchallenged facts if you’re playing the game as a competition.