Teaching Spanish: Guess the Word! ¡Adivina la Palabra!
As Simple as a Questions and Answers Game
I personally find Spanish games very useful when teaching Spanish. This game and activity will help the students in several ways:
- To put into practice the use of two Spanish verbs: ser and estar. Both verbs, as you may already know, correspond to the English verb to be.
- To learn how to ask questions in Spanish.
- To learn more vocabulary.
- To practice the concordance (genre and number) between nouns, determiners, and adjectives.
How the Game Works
In few words, the students will form groups (with a maximum of five students per group). One of them will be the one who will be asking questions; the teacher will give him/her a Spanish word.
The rest of students in his/her group have to guess that word by asking him/her questions in Spanish, but he/she can only answer them using either "sí" or "no."
The group that had asks the least questions to guess the word will win.
Preparing the Game
- Form groups of students. (Each group will have a maximum of five students).
- The teacher will have previously prepared a collection of Spanish vocabulary flashcards.
- Each group will choose one student, who will be answering the questions.
- The teacher will give five flashcards (that is, five written Spanish words) to the student chosen for every group. (You can change the number of words, depending on how many groups there are in the class. It is a question of time, as every word is the equivalent to a complete round.)
- Give a name or number to every group (Group 1, Group 2, etc. or group Cebra, group Tigre, etc.).
- Now it is time to start playing. Our first group will start asking questions to the chosen student in their group, and he/she can only answer either "yes" or "no." Count the number of questions needed for that group to guess the word. Now it is time for the second group to play, until all groups had guessed their corresponding words. The group with the least questions asked will be the winner.
List of Useful Questions
This list could be previously given to the students, so they can prepare their questions:
- ¿Es una cosa, una planta, o un animal?
- ¿Podemos encontrarlo dentro de una casa? (or better: ¿está dentro de casa?)
- ¿Podemos encontrarlo fuera de una casa? (or ¿Está fuera de casa?)
- ¿Es más grande que....?
- ¿Es más pequeño que...?
- ¿Es de color....?
- ¿Se usa para...?
- ¿Necesita electricidad para funcionar?
These and other similar questions will help students practice using the verbs ser and estar.
Some Notes About This Game
Tell your students a good way to start with the questions is to ask if the word to be guessed corresponds to either a thing, a plant, or an animal.
The student answering the question should answer using a complete sentence. That is, he/she can't say just “sí” or “no, but, for example, if the question is “¿Ese animal come hierba?”, the answer should be something like: “Sí, es un animal que come hierba” or “No, ese animal no come hierba”.
Every group has the opportunity to ask for a clue. So, in case they had asked a lot of questions, but still haven't guessed the word, they can ask: “¿Puedes darnos una pista?”. If they do so, the student who answers questions is obliged to give them a clue. In case this student doesn't know how to do it, he/she will ask the teacher.