Write up on the board YES and NO in bold letters. Now tell your students that these words are illegal for the next few minutes and cannot be used.
There are different ways to play the game, but one simple version involves getting the whole class standing. Then go round asking each person a simple question:
- Is Paris the capital of France?
- Where do you live?
- Is your name Maria?
- What time is it?
- What’s your favorite color?
- Can you speak English?
- What’s the tallest mountain in the world?
- Do you like pizza?
Be random about this and ask all sorts of questions (if you think it would help, you can prepare these beforehand). Not all questions can be answered by YES or NO so students will start to relax until someone will accidentally say YES or NO in which case they’re “out” and have to sit down. The final person left standing is the winner.
The idea behind the game is that students cannot come up with the easiest answer. They have to think about the formation of the question and create a suitable reply.
- Is Paris the capital of France? It is.
- Is your name Maria? It’s not.
- Can you speak English? I can.
- Do you like pizza? I do.
You can then start to introduce other phrases which might be appropriate to use:
- Oh, really?
- That’s right.
- That’s me!
- I don’t believe so.
Variations on a Theme
- Create a set of flashcards with loads of simple questions on them (some which could be answered YES or NO and some which don’t need to be). Get two good students to the front of the class where one asks and the other answers and get them to answer as many questions as they can in 15 seconds; the faster they have to go, the more “mistakes” they’ll make in using YES or NO.
- Extend the YES / NO ban to the rest of the lesson; quite simply the word can’t be used and each time someone uses it (including you!) their name goes on the board; reward the winners.
- Play the game in pairs (have the students write questions beforehand) and with points; if the answerer manages to trick the questioner into saying YES or NO then double points are awarded:
Q: Are you English?
A: I’m not, are you?
Q: Are wales fish?
A: I don’t know. Are they?
Q: No, they’re mammals…